A Thousand Flappers and Hobbledehoys

My name is Doug Wykstra, and this is some of the stuff I've read and watched.

Archives: The Perfect Month

Okay, so that was a little longer than I expected…

It turns out that teaching a one-semester class in 4.5 weeks takes, um, all of the time.  And so my plans to update this blog sporadically over the month of June quickly turned into plans to give myself a few weeks off from blogging, especially when I had not had any sleep in the last few days and I still needed at least 4 more good discussion questions and maybe I should put together some extra PowerPoint slides and oh my God what about the quizzes I need  to write a new one in two hours and also shower and shave so how about some coffee and a big fat plate of nothing for breakfast… let’s just say I didn’t need the stress.

This has hindered quite a few of the plans for my blog- I still don’t want to tell anyone about it until I have a hundred posts under my belt, but that will take some time.  And if there’s one thing this summer course has (re-)taught me, it’s that my biggest issue as a writer, scholar, and teacher lies in my consistency.  My lessons were never all that effective until I started putting a set amount of time into planning them every day.  So recently I’ve been starting to look for a few tricks to make me more consistent in doing the sort of things I should be regularly doing them, some of them practical advice (keeping a regular sleep schedule, not opening my computer until I’ve completed everything that can be completed without a computer) and some of them smacking of mumbo-jumbo new age crap (writing affirmations, which, whatever the actual effect on my work ethic, have the benefit of calming me down and orienting myself around my goals for the day).  But I have nearly two full months coming up with very little on my plate- a potential tutoring position, possible trips to Flagstaff and Colorado, and not much else- so I figure this will be the ideal time to get some stuff done that’s been on the backburner.  The top three are as follows:

1. Finish my MA Reading List- really, as long as this is taking me, I’m really embarrassed that I haven’t gotten to Tess of the d’Urbervilles or Kim yet- and I probably need to re-read The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises, seeing as I haven’t gotten to them since high school.  The good news is that my current class basically re-familiarized me with the first third of my reading list, so now I need to go over the last two-thirds one more time for good measure.

2.  Set aside some time for fiction- I spent most of my high school and college years setting time aside for writing, but never finding an idea that seemed worth that time.  So it’s interesting that the last year or so I’ve spent in exactly the opposite position, with a few great ideas for stories and books, but setting aside no time to put them down.  If I make my page benchmarks, that will change.  I want to give this “submit fiction for publication” racket one more spin before I settle down to the business of the rest of my life, and these two months are the time.

3. One blog post a day, from July 1 to July 31– And of course, the most achievable goal comes last.  But this is going to be the backbone of everything else I do: every day is going to be a push through reading list benchmarks and short story time to this final destination, where I will try to pound out 1,000 barely-coherent words before the clock strikes 12 (technically before the clock strikes 10- I want to keep my healthy sleep patterns going).  The other stuff will hopefully give me enough brain activity to provide the minimum necessary number of random thoughts that I can try to squeeze out and freeze-dry, like the way McDonalds makes their Chicken McNuggets.  That reminds me- I want to keep my restaurant reviews and church service reactions going as regular features if I can.  So if I can get those down once a week, that takes care of my weekends, and the other 23 days will have to be the products of my own invention.

I recognize that this is me stuck in the same counter-productive pattern I’ve been in for, oh, most of my life- I try to pull off eight plans at once, they all inevitably collapse, and I spend the time I had planned to be productive instead feeling sorry for myself, and get nothing done.  I put too much stock in the idea that I have free time, and forget that I want to do nothing more than sleep 18 hours a day whenever I have free time.  I fold under the pressure I create for myself, and I’m probably setting myself up to fail.  If my journaling experience is any indication, this may be the last post I make for the next fifteen months.  My journals are terrible.

At the same time, well… I don’t know what to say.  There is literally nothing I could put here that would sound reasonable or justified, based on the case history I’ve laid out in advance.  So I’ll just say that I recently got through a class day where we looked at the poetry of Andrew Marvell, and that line about time’s winged chariot just rings more and more true each day.  And I may not be able to justify placing this ahead of the goals that actually relate to my careers, but I really think  that my problem has much more to do with my whole approach to life, so maybe it’s my whole lifely routine that I need to change.  “Lifely” as opposed to “weekly” or “yearly” or so forth.  Look, lots of writers make up words.

Speaking of words, I am eight away from one thousand. I can stretch things out when it’s necessary.

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This entry was posted on 1 July 2013 by in Life and tagged , , , , , .
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