Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Come With Me If You Want to Live

In the last week or so or…something, there have been some very nice posts by Molly O’Neill, to whom I owe a rock opera, and Veronica Roth, badass author of Divergent, on how important it is to engage with the world around you. For Veronica, that means the world she’s writing about. For Molly, it’s a world she’s got to be alert to for other reasons. As an editor (of some of mah faves, including Divergent), she’s got to engage to spot writing that displays our world in a singularly true way. Or imagines a new world so fully that it feels as real as ours. Clearly, they’re both doing a great job.

This, of course, isn’t just advice for publishing pros. Not only is it just enjoyable to get out and do new things, being in the world around us is a life skill, like the ability to make painful small talk, that transcends job titles. No matter where you work, it’s important that you can talk about things you find completely uninteresting. Interminably. In fact, these life skills are related. The more you know about the world, the more easily small talk will flow from your lips, like completely hygienic word vomit. Speaking of…

I’m going to get back on topic. I didn’t always have Molly and Veronica’s eloquent exhortation, and I’ve been working on this world-engagement thing and sort of failing. Moving to New York has been, to date, the most mind boggling thing I’ve ever done. Because here, everyone is interesting. And there is so much to do! Yes! But…there’s so much to do. And that’s overwhelming. Everyone is very intimidating and “cultured,” whatever that is. And also everyone works a lot, and I already worked a lot but when surrounded by everyone working a lot one feels like one is in Rome and you know what they say about being in Rome…

Because new people are intimidating and all the stuff is so…so much…and there’s work to do, you end up in a pattern. Patterns are good, but they don’t do much for eye opening and world-loving. I know how it feels, man. But let’s work on balancing. Work is awesome, not to mention you have to do it. Not doing work is frowned upon. Not doing random stuff, not so frowned upon. But it should be. My efforts at balance:

  • I rode the Governor’s Island ferry back and forth (it’s free for godssake), even though time didn’t permit me to actually do a whole lot on the island itself.
  • I went to the Brooklyn Flea Market on Saturday and (nearly) bought a giraffe sweater.*
  • I read an article in the New Yorker about British politics (they’re completely re-envisioning division of responsibility over there…it’s interesting).
  • I dressed up and went to the Halloween Parade in the West Village with Triumvirant Suzie.

Alarmingly, these are not things you can do while reading. You can’t take work along to the flea market or to the parade. That’s so scary. For us in an agency, it means that someone else might be reading and requesting that perfect query that’s going to revolutionize your list and allow you to finally TAKE OVER THE WORLDAHHHAHAHA. But that’s OK. Because like pruning your crepe myrtles means you’re going to get even MORE of those little blossoms in your hair when the tree grows back even more robustly, taking time away from the job—whether it’s publishing or not—is going to make you better and sharper when you return to the shackles at your desk.

So, what’re you doing this weekend? *smacks fist into hand. Again. And Again.* Working?

*I’m going back this weekend. If that sweater is still there, it’s fate. And it’s mine.


Madscientist254 said...

Are we talking about a sweater with a giraffe pattern or are we talking about a picture of a giraffe on the front of the thing? Inquiring minds want to know. Also I completely agree, we all need to get out more and experience life or as one would find printed on card... "Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." <-- Love that quote...

Joanna said...

You are brilliant, my dear.

Lisa T. said...

I so agree. I get all my best writing ideas when I go on trips or get out of my element. This weekend I'm going to splurge and see Cirque du Soleil; I haven't seen them in years and I remember just being mesmerized by their show.

Next weekend I'm off to a regional SCBWI conference for a critique, so that's exciting. Every day I tell myself, "It's nanowrimo!" I'm not offically entered, but just the idea keeps me scribbling out the pages.

Meredith Barnes said...

Sounds awesome, Lisa!! And madscientist, this is a sweater with the most kick-ass giraffe pattern on it that you've ever seen. Evah.

May it soon be mine.

Mike Koch said...

Alright, I blame you Meredith for getting me to finally get around to starting my first blog. Hope you enjoy the minor distraction.

lotusgirl said...

I should probably be pruning the crepe myrtles, but today I'm helping a friend move, making French food, going to book club and tomorrow is the hubby's b'day so we're hanging and doing whatever he wants.

I think it would be great to live in NYC for a while, but I'd need the decompression of going south periodically.

thatswhatsup said...

i pray it is gone. ;)

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Five Random Things About Suzie

1. I drink so much orange soda, it's probably running through my veins. I've been known to go through a twelve pack of diet sunkist in a day.

2. I'm legitimately nocturnal (or a vampire). I will be so exhausted at two pm that I'm falling asleep standing up - it has happened before, at Six Flags no less - but as soon as the sun goes down I'm wide awake.

3. I have a gorgeous unused $6000 Reem Acra wedding dress hanging in my closet, and it showed up on my doorstep the same day my (now ex) fiance broke up with me. And thank God for that. I wouldn't have wanted to waste that dress on him.

4. Social anxiety plagues me daily. I write a script and practice in front of the mirror when I have to make a phone call, but most people who interact with me have no idea how nervous I am (or perhaps they lie) because I've worked so hard to try to overcome it.

5. I'm actually worried that I will never love my children (when I do have them in the far off future) as much as I love my dogs. I just like animals better than people - they're sweet and innocent and soft and furry - is that so wrong?