Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Visible Change

I have a lot of pressure mounting up . . . a Microsoft certification exam next week, for which I am only half-prepared at best, plus another SKS meeting, plus a project that I am further and further behind on.

And yet, I am feeling perfectly equanimous this evening. And that’s because I have a clean office in a clean house. I got all the backlogged shipping packed up and ready to go, all the stray packing materials bundled up in the garage, some hard disks and screens redeployed. So, in spite of the fact that I’m still in the hole, I feel like I’m in control and on top of things.

In a lot of the work that I do, I forget the importance of morale. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how much progress you’re making, as long as you feel like you’re making progress. Style will never fully replace substance, but at some level you need to see enough change, enough visible progress, that you feel like you’re moving in the right direction and that the struggle is worth it. When you get really tired and depressed, a clean office might be all that gets you through the night.

I’ve heard lots of stories to back this up. In World War II the American POWs made a point of shaving every day, just to keep themselves feeling civilized and unbroken. The FlyLady, a sort of Stephen Covey for the homemaker set, advises that you dress completely, all the way down to your shoes, even if you’re going to stay in the house all day.

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