Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monotasking


It's been one of those weeks.

There is so much to do; I race from one activity to the next, feeling that I'm not doing anything very well, sure that I am forgetting something critical. But every day, the piano students had their lessons, my family was fed, the dog got taken out, and the household chores were accomplished. And every day, I took a stab at my additional goals - reading, writing, blogging, beading, listing an item in my Etsy store, practicing piano - and accomplished most of them. I love the sense of satisfaction that comes from a day well spent. I love checking items off my to do list.

Even more exciting, several times this week I experienced the euphoria of being fully focused in the present moment. This is unusual for me; there is generally a lot of chatter in my head, to the point that I sometimes feel detached from what I am doing, distracted as I am by the needs of others and the unfinished tasks that await me. But this morning as I practiced a two-piano piece with a colleague of mine in preparation for her spring recital on Saturday, I found myself completely caught up in the music we were making; I forgot to be anxious about the difficult passages lying ahead, and conscious thought ceased. For a few seconds, all I was aware of was the physical sensation of my body at the keyboard and the sounds we were making. It was short-lived but it was amazing.

Later in the day, as I worked on some special order jewelry designs for an Etsy customer, I became so absorbed in the work I was doing that I completely lost track of time. When I sat down at my beading table, I intended to sit there for only thirty minutes or so; the next thing I knew, two hours had passed and I had to stop and get ready to teach. And I had several beautiful pieces - and more inspiration for the next time I sit down to work - to show for my time. It was all I could do to tear myself away.

I fell short of my writing goal yesterday and haven't written a word yet today, but on Monday I really felt like a novelist as I continued the revision process. I reduced three pages of twaddle to one succinct paragraph, corrected several instances of telling, and improved some wooden dialogue. Unfortunately, I got stuck in the middle of a scene shortly after all that and I still haven't quite figured out where to go. I've got to figure it out, though, and soon, because the clock just keeps ticking. I'm not content to be merely an author. I want to be a PUBLISHED author. And until this manuscript is perfect - or as near perfect as I can make it - that isn't going to happen. Manishi, Imani and Aldith, where are you?

These moments are unpredictable but I am beginning to think that all it takes to make them happen is to show up every day and get to work. To do one thing at a time and do it well.

9 comments:

Julee J. Adams said...

There are so many times I'll start something, then remember I have to do something else mid-project and go off on a tangent. I have to stop, take a deep breath to focus, then finish one @#$%ing thing before jumping on to five other things. I agree, I'm really getting into editing. Who knew slashing words while still keeping the spirit could be so satisfying? Have a super and productive week! http://fateandfaith-julee.blogspot.com/2011/05/follow-friday-and-my-first-attempt-at.html

S.M. Carrière said...

Success is 1 part inspiration, and 9 parts determination. As long as you keep showing up, you will get there!

Megan said...

Your experience is a good reminder to us to just take a deep breath and focus (much of the time) rather than worrying about the entire world of responsibilities we have every minute of every day. Thank you... I really needed that.

Cheryl Reif said...

I love your story of complete absorption in your creative process...and your observation that these moments are unpredictable, but you have to show up for the work before they can happen. That's what I strive for--a habit of creativity. Thanks for a great post!

Pam Asberry said...

It's so true, Julee. I am beginning to believe that the tangential jumping is just another way Resistance rears its ugly head. The more I fight it, the more focused and productive I am able to be. Good luck with the editing; we can do it!

Pam Asberry said...

I hope you're right, S.M., because many days I am definitely more determined than inspired. BICHOK!

Pam Asberry said...

You're welcome, Megan. My experience this week has been so powerful, I just had to share. Glad it resonated with you, too!

Pam Asberry said...

"A habit of creativity" - I love that, Cheryl. I really think that is the secret. One of the things DD Scott shared in her online class was that our muses are fickle. If we make a standing date with them and show up consistently, they will show up, too. But they are always looking for an excuse to go on vacation, so if we miss even one day, they are likely to run away to Tahiti and it will be hard to get them to come back! It's a funny analogy but I think there's a lot of truth to it. Thank you for your comments!

Melissa Marsh said...

I love those perfect moments of euphoria, when all is right with the world. During those times, my heart swells and I almost feel like crying. It's glorious. :-)

You're doing great with all your projects. Well done!