Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Half an Hour of Agency

The Half-an-Hour Plan

"Procrastination, my old friend,
You've come to talk to me again..."

[comic from invisible bread]

Yesterday I asked a friend how she wrote her dissertation.

I was expecting something hard core, like she went and stayed in a monastery without Internet for 2 months. (I know someone who did this.)
But I got the most wonderful useful answer. She said,
"I wrote for half an hour at a time."

If I'd written half an hour/day since June, I'd have 39 hours of writing done, which is a lot more than I have...

I've been doing lots and lots of reading, note-taking, talking, and thinking, which I need to do, of course, and love doing,
but very little actual writing.
That's the part I do not love.

I love e-mailing, blogging (hi, there!), and other kinds of informal, personal writing, but writing for work, it's like there's a vulture on my shoulder breathing dead mice into my soul....

My fandom ms is due in 151 days (1-15-17).

Half an hour a day = 75.5 hours.
That'd take me a long way toward finishing [I mean 75 hours of actual writing, not counting in editing, etc.,], since I already have my notes in order. 
I think I'll try that.

The Pleasure of Agency

I don't need any more information, but I've got a few more fan interviews I want to do---they are so fun, and provide the best quotes. 

This morning I interviewed N., one of the baristas here at the coffee shop where I spend a lot of time. 
N's a video gamer--a kind and thoughtful guy who plays a lot of FPS games [first-person shooters, where you, the player, hold the gun]. 

I asked him about violence in games--I'm not sure what to make of it, but I have to say something about it, and I want to hear it from a gamer, not an outsider.

He said he wasn't so naive as to dismiss it, but he said,
 "I used to swim competitively, and I experienced the same emotions in a race that I feel playing video games--anger or frustration or elation. You feel it for a few minutes, and then you move on."

That nonviolent sports analogy is super useful. 

Have you seen the meme of Angry Michael Phelps Face? He's said he was "in my own zone", not intentionally giving a competitor a dirty look.
Violence is fun--for  instance, it's fun to pop bubble wrap!

I think it's because we enjoy the feeling of agency---being the cause in "cause and effect", and violence is one of the fastest effects.

Obviously this can be a big problem for the humans. 
What then should we do?


Anyway, I'm especially looking to talk to people who are makers in their fandoms--that is, they create stuff in or about the thing they love. 
I'm finding a lot of people made more stuff when they were teenagers and had the time and friends up close.
N., for instance, doesn't do this anymore but he used to make games on RPG Maker.

RPG = role playing game. Definitions vary. These are its roots:

I want to sign up for a RPG Maker free trial (otherwise it's $80)--you don't have to know how to code, it walks you through game building...

I did start a JavaScript tutorial at Code Academy (free!), but I quickly realized it's like learning any other foreign language:
you have to practice & memorize, and I'm not motivated enough to bother.  

Still, it's cool to be acquainted with some basics---just like it's fun to learn the verb for "to be" in another language.

(JavaScript, per Wikipedia is, "alongside HTML and CSS, one of the three core technologies of World Wide Web content production.")

Yes, so I spent all morning on this-and-that, and now I am going to work for half an hour on my ms!


Michael Leddy said...

How about a system of rewards: an hour of The Wire for every hour of writing?

Frex said...

Good idea but I am way too sneaky to do deals with myself---I always take the reward even if I've not done the work!
Bad terrier... :)

Michael Leddy said...

Uh oh. I now remember that I worked on my dissertation in this way — after writing, the reward was walking to Coolidge Corner (Brookline) to get copies made and buy pens, paper, stamps, etc.

There’s a book I’ve found really helpful, Neil Fiore’s The Now Habit, but I know that reading about procrastination can be a sly way to procrastinate.

Frex said...

LOL! "I know that reading about procrastination can be a sly way to procrastinate."
YES! Alas.
Also looking up comics about it, writing about it, etc.

May I ask, what was your dissertation about?

Frex = Fresca

Frex said...

P.S. Also, complaining about procrastination...
The truth is, procrastination is uncomfortable,
but I can't recall that it's ever actually stopped me from writing the thing in question, and finishing on time too.

Michael Leddy said...

My dissertation was "theory" — about the meaning of a text, starring E. D. Hirsch (authorial intention, before his "cultural literacy" work), Stanley Fish (interpretive communities), and J. L. Austin and speech-act theory. Great fun at the time, but it feels worlds away from me now.

(Tried leaving this comment, or more or less this comment, earlier, but couldn't get comments to work on my phone).

Fresca said...

MICHAEL: Thanks for saying.
Literary theory only ever brushed me, lightly, when I studied Classics---a little postmodernism, a little New Criticism...

I was focusing on theology of late antiquity, which is not unrelated. [How do we handle these texts? they wondered and we wondered and I wondered.]

I loved it a lot, but a blog friend is posting her thoughts on the Trinity & the nature of Christ, etc., and it feels, as you say, "worlds away from me now."

Do you mostly read & write bloggy things on your phone?

Michael Leddy said...

No, the phone is just for checking in on the fly. A few sentences is the most I’m willing to write on the phone.