A New Year, An Old Me
by Benjamin Tucker
I’ve decided that I’d like to alter certain behaviours this year. I’m hoping to conduct myself differently; to attack the available time with a bit more vigour. I don’t see my free time as disposable, but I am frequently incensed and depressed by my acting as if it is. I’ll express my intentions here, hoping that the fear-of-failing to meet goals I’ve expressed publicly will be motivating. I’ve said for more than a decade that I want to write, but these days I feel more and more as though I have to. I hesitate to say that I am optimistic about achieving my goals, though. The energy I have undulates in focus, such that sometimes I get a little done and most times I don’t. I’m hoping said pattern doesn’t hold true this year. I wish I could say with a little more brass, rather than meekly and with my tail between my legs, that this year I will accomplish; but if history is any indication, I have to at least be real about the fact that I may end the year disappointed by my (lack of) achievements. I do hope not, though.
While I could not, like the soliloquist in James Fenton’s The Skip, throw my life into the dumpster, I must admit there is something appealing about the thought. Mightn’t it be nice to start anew? Or perhaps a bit more mildly, to re-imagine yourself? And if you only believe enough, work hard enough, you’ll be able to actualize the changes you long for. Perhaps there’s a morsel to be gleaned from such platitudes, but that isn’t quite how this old clock ticks, is it? The cosmos seems rather more neutral about our state of affairs, less plastic than the fantasized-life-change might require.
Besides, I have too much attachment, too many commitments, too many principled obligations, too many things about my life I quite like, in fact, to really desire a contextual tabula rasa right now. Still there are those aspects of myself that smother progress: Pathetic excuses veiling boring or embarrassing habits that devour my time–time I tell myself (and others) I would like to spend more productively. These anchors I really would like to be able to throw on the skip. Alas, I fear they are too much entangled with the rest of me. If I could manage their removal without haemorrhaging to death, I would still be left markedly more barren. Even the things about myself that I hate, directly inform my experience and that which defines my character; that which defines me, even. Such things don’t lend themselves well to excision.
Dreams of a tantalizing new life discovered on some skip might appear seductive, yet I submit they are also a waste of time. (Alright, why not, I’ll anticipate the riposte. Sure, dreaming of a fantasy-life might inspire some action toward positive change, but taking this route seems rather meandering, doesn’t it?) I’d rather tuer le temps 1 by reflecting on the life I do have, and how I might use it to some affect.
And so, this year, while I can’t eject my more obstructive characteristics, I can exercise those I’d like to cultivate, so that the less desirables might eventually atrophy. Time to build up and break down habits, I suppose.
But what is a commitment without specificity? So then, I’ll state it: I am going to write 4 screenplays this year. That’s about 90 days per picture. This sounds overly ambitious–it is, actually–I know, but as I mentioned I have been dreaming of writing for a dozen years, and fortunately it wasn’t just dreaming. I have sketched some (quite bare in some cases but still essential) groundwork; writing ideas and synopses, scenes and settings, dialogues and descriptors, drafting character studies, developing concept art, studying. I’m not aiming for polished shooting-scripts either, just first-drafts. Part of the job will be what I know to be the tedious work of gathering, organizing and editing what’s already been written. ‘All well and good’, you may say, ‘but notes on scraps of paper won’t stack up into scripts’. And of course quite right you’d be, but I never said it wouldn’t be an enormous amount of work. It will be, and I’ve decided this year will be the year of production just the same.
I’ve been trying to motivate myself to persevere and focus and complete for too long. This approach isn’t working. When deadlines are set though, regarding either curriculum or career, I’ve never left a project unfinished. On the odd occasion something might go in a day or two late, or perhaps even a day or two underdone, but it’d get in just the same. And so I hope it will be with this. The problem is these four stories aren’t the only one’s floating around in my head, there are several more and I get the sensation of a bottleneck threatening my ever getting anything down. As I mentioned earlier, the inclination to write seems to be growing somewhat more urgent. So I will write. I will be accountable to this blog. I will post updates on my progress and on related work, too. The writing isn’t my only ambition either, so I hope my discussion of the others will fill out future posts.
Until then, adieu~
- Perhaps this seems an odd choice of phrase, I did essentially say I was trying to avoid killing time, didn’t I? Well, no. I think it’s not that so much time has been killed, but that its deaths have thus far all been in vain ↩