After years of complaining to us how her school work wasn't challenging enough, we gave her the chance to go whole hog in 7th grade. Like a prepubescent humanoid at a confectionery purchasing location, our unnamed daughter loaded up her schedule with pre-AP courses. When she saw her schedule at orientation our pre-teen daughter cracked a smile so wide and rare we were afraid her face might have split open.
Then she started school, and the smile that brightened her world for those few days fell off and hid between the dust bunnies of her bed. In a short period of time her exuberance metamorphosed into drudgery. Tests were failed, homework wasn't turned in, and the all-purpose excuse of 'I'm just lazy' crept into everyday conversation. Though angry and frustrated at the developments, we took a deep breath, squared our shoulders, and told our daughter something her teachers, guidance counselors, and janitors already said but she refused to understand. Every excuse in the book could be made, but she was responsible for her own education.
Which brings me to this week's topic. We writers are in a similar boat as my daughter, minus the teenage angst and love of the band One Direction. We get all excited about a project, then shrug it off when the going gets tough. In the end, we need someone to square their shoulders, look us in the eye, and say in no uncertain terms that we are in charge of the means and the opportunities to put the words down on paper to get the project done.
To be more succinct, we're responsible for our own responsibility.
Being responsible is tough. There were plenty of times when I pulled out an Excuse or declared Writer's Rot to avoid placing stylus to parchment. However, as I continued to manipulate the system and gave into the evil Archangel of Non-responsibility I realized I was doing myself a misjustice, for all the brilliant ideas at the forefront of my brain disentigrated as time went by. As I'm sure you do sometimes, I kick myself for all the chances I missed for best seller stardom. And then I go to the hospital for a bruised tailbone or pulled calf muscle.
I believe the way towards writing responsibility is repitition. In the continuing mental battle with our daughter we provide constant reminders on how she is responsible for schoolwork, be it through review of her grades and assignments, notes scrawled on her walls in red ink, or a looped recording of us whispering 'Your responsible for your education' hidden in her pillow. And though she huffs like an angry bull and her eyes roll back so far into her sockets we think she's a zombie, the concept is trickling into her daily routines.
The same ploys can be utilized to make your brain understand that the novel sitting on your computer for the last six months will not get done by itself, or by the dozen or so monkeys you hired to finish it. Make 'I'm responsible for my responsibility' your mantra. Say it into the mirror like Al Franken's Stuart Smalley character did with his on Saturday Night Live. Keep it and the first page of your uncompleted story on the front door of the refrigerator or bathroom. Just don't scrawl it in red marker on your walls...that's just creepy.
Straighten your back, gulp that energy drink, and plunge forward, because the next idea you immediately take on may be the one that sticks and launches you into tabloid-like glory.
Shameless Plug #1 -- I am proud to be co-authoring an online story with the wonderful and ageless Dean Miller over at his website. My portion of Her Father's Wooden Leg is up and ready for your viewing pleasure. Make sure to read the first two parts so you don't think the tale is about the son of a pirate.
Shameless Plug #2 -- Cat on a Leash. Need I say more? Okay, go to Smashwords.com and purchase a copy of Cat on a Leash for the favorite person in your life. Makes a great Mischief Night gift.