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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Friday, September 10, 2010

365 days of being a writer: day 25

I procrastinate and give it the cutesy name of "distractor mousing." I picked up this darling sound-bite from one of the would-be saviors in an unending line of such, who promised to help me be more productive and less self-sabotaging (for only $19.99 + tax). While I found her tone and attitude easy to relate to, the sad fact is that I am going to continue to procrastinate as long as it "rewards" me. No matter how many ways you give me to stop.

When I put something off until the last minute I have a built in excuse for--and self-defense against--failure. "It would have been better, but I was just so rushed at the end, I couldn't give it my absolute best." The assumption being that there IS some better I would have given, given more time. But since I always put shit off until the sudden death round, I don't ever have to actually prove it.

For many years I have also labored under the notion that I do my best work on a tight deadline. But today I really thought about it, and it's just the ONLY time I get work done. Nearly. I mean, how would I know? Maybe I'm a fucking Flannery O'Connor or J.D. Salinger, but we'll never know because I can't get out of bed on time or stay off Facebook long enough to get my shit done. (She said, clearly frustrated with her productivity and too exhausted and under-rested to cut even herself a break.)

That's my hair shirt for the night.

I spent most of my writing time today struggling to finalize this print piece coming out later in the year. The real frustration was that I wasn't even working on text, but graphics that will accompany it. It keeps feeling like the last step, and then there's more, and I'm sort of at the end of rope with it. Thing is, it's an unpaid byline and I am beginning to wonder about my responsibility to this profession I want to have.

By taking this job, am I contributing to an environment where the work of writers becomes so undervalued as to be literally worth nothing? Print media is suffering the way everyone is suffering. The magazine and media outlets respond in many cases by turning to the legions of bloggers and would-be grad students (see how I did that) and offer exposure in exchange for marketable goods.

Let me be clear: I want the exposure. I am grateful for the editor who had a job and thought I could do it. I am hoping it will lead to paying jobs while it adds to my clip file. I am hoping it shows at least one college professor that I am serious and deserve a damn chance to spend a couple of years doing nothing BUT writing, not just for free, but at moderate to great expense to myself and most likely my family. I just worry if wanting it is irresponsible to all of the other writers in the world who have families and debts to feed, and cars and cats to fix.

WWHED? (And it's just a coincidence that the last two days in a row have been scifi guys.)

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