I’ve been at the AWP conference for, like, 24 hours so far and half that time I’ve been “working.” Such a dilemma this when-to-illuminate-the-off-duty-sign question.
I’m here to immerse and absorb and ponder, but am pre-occupied, as always, with paid client work. As a project-oriented independent contractor with hourly billing, every time I illuminate the don’t-flag-me-down sign I’m just saying no to my ever-increasing mortgage payment!
Apropos to this, one of the two, count ‘em two, seminars I’ve attended thus far included a “balancing your writing against other concerns” component. One of the panelists—the token purist—said, “There’s always going to be the need to make money, that’s a given. If you’re really a writer, you make time to write.” Period.
A few years back my friend Monica Drake and I pitched our “Fueled by Distraction” workshop to AWP. They declined. But they shouldn’t have. I think I need to revisit some of the materials we used to demonstrate how to use the distractions presented by every day concerns as fuel (as opposed to barriers) to satisfying creative work.
Paramount to the success of this method, as I recall, is how to mine nuggets of possibility from quotidian detritus. I’m talking how to turn a library overdo notice into a short essay. Or how you can, say, leverage negotiating tactics employed when aligning the needs of a client with the aesthetic concerns of a graphic designer into lovely, conflict-ridden dialogue! Maybe the workshop should be renamed: How to step out of your busy life and become God. Hm.
More later…I have to go absorb.