Monday, August 17, 2015

365 True Things: 141/Schedule

I wrote about my schedule (or rather, Ben Franklin's schedule) back in May. Today I am pondering my schedule again, since I have a new, very large J.O.B. in, and I don't want to let it consume me.

Anymore, it seems, I'm unable to multitask. So that's part of what I'm pondering too: remembering how to, if not multitask, at least duotask. As in: do my own work, and do income-generating work also. Two very different animals.

It's good (fun, at any rate) to find "inspiration" from other writers. Here, for example, is Kurt Vonnegut on a typical day, sent to his wife in a 1965 letter. I identify 100 percent with the opening comment about "an unmoored life."
In an unmoored life like mine, sleep and hunger and work arrange themselves to suit themselves, without consulting me. I’m just as glad they haven’t consulted me about the tiresome details. What they have worked out is this: I awake at 5:30, work until 8:00, eat breakfast at home, work until 10:00, walk a few blocks into town, do errands, go to the nearby municipal swimming pool, which I have all to myself, and swim for half an hour, return home at 11:45, read the mail, eat lunch at noon. In the afternoon I do schoolwork, either teach or prepare. When I get home from school at about 5:30, I numb my twanging intellect with several belts of Scotch and water ($5.00/fifth at the State Liquor store, the only liquor store in town. There are loads of bars, though.), cook supper, read and listen to jazz (lots of good music on the radio here), slip off to sleep at ten. I do push-ups and sit-ups all the time, and feel as though I am getting lean and sinewy, but maybe not. Last night, time and my body decided to take me to the movies. I saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, which I took very hard. To an unmoored, middle-aged man like myself, it was heart-breaking. That’s all right. I like to have my heart broken.
So he did his own work from 5:30 until 10. I can't do that. There's no way I'm getting up at 5:30. But I think I can do my own work from 7 to noon. Five hours. With a break midway for exercise. Or meditation. (But not both? Why not both? Yeah, yeah, both takes more time, but
. . . I need both.)

Then work on the J.O.B from noon to 5. With a break midway for—oh, this is how I can do both: meditate in the morning, exercise in the afternoon. Simple.

In the evening, no belts of Scotch and water (though that does sound somehow comforting), but this here blog and maybe some reading or TV (DVD). Take the evening off. (If spending an hour mining myself can be considered "taking time off.")

The blog has been good for me on the not-working front. Although I keep meaning to knock it out early in the day, get it over with, I find that about 8 or 9 in the evening is when I finally get to it. Like, now: it's 8:50. Right on schedule. And in a way, it's an opportunity to decompress. It's not work. It's just something I want to make sure I do each day. It's part of my discipline.

I would like to resolve to take at least one weekend day off too. That's hard for me: when I get in a work cycle, I just work. (I mean J.O.B. work here. Doing my own work is a whole other story.) But this new job will take eight weeks. I can't not take days off.

It's all something I just need to pay attention to. Be conscious. 

And then I found eleven (of course!) "commandments" of Henry Miller, written in 1932–33 while he was working on Tropic of Cancer—some of which fly in the face of what I've just said. As I pay attention/be conscious, perhaps mixing a little Miller into the Vonnegut asceticism won't be a bad idea. (The second commandment is not relevant to me, so here are ten worthwhile, if confoundingly contradictory, commandments.)
  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  3. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  4. When you can’t create you can work.
  5. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  6. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  7. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  8. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  9. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  10. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.
Here, too, is part of his Daily Program:
If groggy, type notes and allocate, as stimulus.
If in fine fettle, write.
Work of section in hand, following plan of section scrupulously. No intrusions, no diversions. Write to finish one section at a time, for good and all.
See friends. Read in cafés.
Explore unfamiliar sections—on foot if wet, on bicycle if dry.
Write, if in mood, but only on Minor program.
Paint if empty or tired.
Make Notes. Make Charts, Plans. Make corrections of MS.
Note: Allow sufficient time during daylight to make an occasional visit to museums or an occasional sketch or an occasional bike ride. Sketch in cafés and trains and streets. Cut the movies! Library for references once a week.
So there we are. Plenty of food for thought as I try—yet again—to inflict a little more discipline on my haphazard, unmoored, quixotic life.

1 comment:

  1. Great post, Anne--so many lovely parts to it. I also often find myself writing my post at the end of the day, and often it does feel like decompressing. (And then there are the days it feels as if someone is sitting on me...) And yes, not work, "part of my discipline." Nice.