Friday, November 1, 2013

A Word About Perseverance

You know what's rough about this whole creative life-of-the-mind schtick?

...well, objectively speaking, not a hell of a lot.  Having the education and financial security to angst into my laptop about my deathless prose is a pretty sweet deal.

But I tell you what: if you wanna lose a hundred pounds or win a triathlon or bulk up and bench-press your car, there is no shortage of inspiring pictures out there to keep you motivated.  Jillian Michaels on your fridge!  Usain Bolt by the bathroom mirror!  Mr. Universe on the ceiling above your weight bench!  (One of the vaseline-slathered beefcake ones, not the poor bastard with the RealDoll girlfriend from Serenity.)

A little tougher to do that if you're trying to write a novel or cut an album or master the ancient art of erotic clowning.  Like, you can paper your house with pictures of famous people in your field, but at the end of the day, the quality of your efforts can't be visually measured - and that makes visual motivation harder to arrange.

Anyway, today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, and as good a day as any to celebrate the relentless nose-to-grindstoning of creative folks in every field.  So here's my contribution to our collective motivational poster-pool.


This is the keyboard I've used for the last eight years of my writing apprenticeship. 


The grooves are from my fingernails.



Did I mention that my first novel was called The Nine Mnemonics of the N'mmmnerian Nunnery?  

Anyway: keep at it, arty people, whatever your art may be.  And remember: there is nothing standing between you and success but years of thankless unrelenting toil!


It's going to take you awhile.

14 comments:

  1. Great stuff! I don't think it can be overstated how important perseverance is to a writer. Kameron Hurley had a great post asserting that perseverance is just as important as competent writing, and a skill that most writers have a much harder time dealing with.

    http://www.kameronhurley.com/why-being-good-isnt-good-enough/

    Also, good lord, those grooves are a horrifying badge of honor. Are your nails diamond-tipped?

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    1. Haha, why no, but now that you mention it, I do have a set of retractable needles underneath them!

      Freaking love that post, though. It's like that thing about talent, luck, and perseverance, and the less you have of one, the more you're gonna need of the other two. I think the real problem here is that we spend 90% of our time doing the things that the montage sequence covers in a 3 1/2 minute power ballad. (Or that the book skips over in chapter and scene breaks.) So no matter how many "plucky underdog" stories we see/read, we are never prepared for how long this shit actually takes to bring to fruition.

      (Thanks for fruiting with me though, dude - I know you know what a long haul it really is!)

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  2. I am now afraid to be near your hands. I have worn the letters off many a keyboard, but I have never, ever worn grooves into them.

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    1. Haha, wow, Jodi - do you mean to tell me you don't strike every key with trembling, barely-suppressed rage? You're totally missing out!

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  3. Ha ha ... I just wrote a post on perseverance as part of my NaNoWriMo prep If I had a smart phone, I'd take a pic of my keyboard ... all worn away in the same places (only I don't have fingernail marks ... THOSE are impressive!)

    You oughta get that keyboard all memed-up and post it on facebook, etc. It would make a great little postery thing for writers to add to their "walls."

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    1. What a fantastic idea - and thanks for the suggestion! You are a sick genius, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

      (Loved your post, by the way - great minds think along parallel lines!)

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  4. I think your keyboard is pretty groovy!

    But I've never worn my keys that much -- I change keyboards when they start getting a little too grunged up (usually contamination from dust, cat/dog hair, food crumbs, and/or spilled green tea or diet Mt. Dew). Or I replace the entire computer because, you see, they keep making "better" ones. ;)

    But even then -- I don't have nails and I guess my touch is generally pretty mild anyway. I seem to be more of a key "presser" than a key "hitter"

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    1. Ah, there's your problem, see - you're just not writing *angry* enough! :)

      And yes, I will freely admit to having an unreasonable attachment to this keyboard. I like to pop the keys off and clean it out every so often (you would not BELIEVE how much garbage came out of it before I took those photos.) And once when it broke, my buddy helped me take it apart and apply this liquid silver goop to fix the corroded connection. I think this must be what working on a car felt like, back before they were all HAL 9000 under under the hood. Tell me you don't do this with your guitars!

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    1. No, YOU AH.

      (And thanks so much for bragging on it on Twitter and FB - that just made my whole day!)

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  6. I've worn the letters off the keyboard on my second generation Kindle, typing notes on manuscripts. But there are no claw marks. Er ... fingernail marks. That's impressive!

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    1. Oh, man. I think you're the first person I've met who even makes notes on Kindle, never mind wears the letters off doing it! THAT is impressive!

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  7. Your keyboard is scaring me. I think it's time to treat yourself to a brand spankin' new one!

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    1. Haha, NEVER! If we got rid of things when they started to get a little freaky, we would lose, like, half the world's supply of celebrities and the elderly, and shortchange the plots of most of Stephen King's novels. (Now there's a notion - keyboard as horror artifact...!)

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