Tuesday, May 29, 2012

May 29: Isaac Asimov, Expectations, Setting Myself Up

I have a lot of plans for this summer when it comes to my writing.  First, I want to get a good start on my next book of poems.  (I've already written the first poem, so at least I've begun.)  Next, I want to get a good portion of my memoir done.  You remember that memoir.  I was supposed to write it during Lent.  Finally, I want to have my Christmas essay for the radio done by September.  (I've already got an idea for this project, so that's half the battle.)

Big plans.  I do this all the time.  Mark my words, by the end of the summer, I'll be lucky if I have three more poems written.  My memoir will still be in a state of limbo.  And my Christmas essay will still be just a good idea.  Yes, I'm setting myself up for failure.

The only time I've actually followed through on a planned writing project was during Lent, two years ago, when I wrote a poem a day.  As a result of that little exercise, I have a brand new collection of poetry that I can't get anybody to look at.  Depressing.

I wish I could remain positive.  I wish I actually scheduled my life in a more productive manner.  The only things I write with any consistency are blog posts, and even those wax and wane over the weeks and months.  This morning's post was the longest I'd written in quite a while.  Perhaps I put too much emphasis on blogging.  Perhaps I put too much pressure on myself to accomplish so many writing projects at one time. 

I heard this anecdote once about the science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.  I'm not sure it's true, but I want it to be.  Asimov told someone that he had three typewriters set up in his office on three desks.  On each typewriter, he was writing a different book.  So his writing days were a relay race, in some ways.  He'd work on one manuscript until he got stuck, and then he'd swivel his chair and begin working on the next book.  Until he got stuck again.  Then, he'd turn to the third typewriter and start typing.  I've always loved that image of Asimov, bouncing like a pinball between his writing projects.  (Of course, Asimov was a full-time writer.  That's how he made his living.)

Maybe I should approach my writing projects like Isaac Asimov.  Just have three different documents saved on my laptop--Christmas essay, poems, memoir.  Then I'll just asimov my way through the summer.  (Yes, I just turned Isaac Asimov into a verb.)  My friend and teacher, the novelist John Smolens, does the same thing.  He always has two or three different books he's working on.

Saint Marty now has a plan of action.  He just has to follow through.

Asimov at one of his typewriters

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