Sunday, October 2, 2016

How Procrastination Became A Challenge Between Talent Vs Effort

I confess. I totally forgot about this post last night. A lot of things didn’t go as planned yesterday (not exactly on track today either) and the fact that I had a blog post to write just simply slipped my mind. Maybe I just got spoiled by the fact I had last week’s update written and scheduled well ahead of time. Oh, well. I’m here now and that’s what counts right? :-D

Sad to say though, I don’t have a whole lot to report for my week. Well, not much writing-wise anyway. What can I say? The spirit was willing, the mind kept wandering off.

I read several articles while researching my quotes post for Friday. And while I did copy down the links as I went along, I didn’t save them once the post was done. Mainly because while they started out promising and I was able to use a tidbit or two from them, they seemed to segue into something totally different. Like the one that promised tips for overcoming procrastination and turned into a diatribe against the school policy that makes every kid a winner. Say what?

When there are no winners and no losers, when every kid is guaranteed a prize, where’s the challenge in competing? Who cares if Billy worked his ass off to get first place, I got a ribbon just for showing up. This produces a generation of kids who see no need to rise to a challenge. And it also produces a work force that needs to be constantly supervised and praised because they’ve never learned the joy of a good challenge.

At first I kind of gave a snort of derision, but as I continued to read the article (see my post about procrastination) I found myself agreeing with the author. Most would-be writers tend to be at the top of their English classes because reading and writing comes so easily to them. They really don’t need to put a lot of effort into their assignments, just dash them off. There’s no challenge. And the teachers go along with it, praising them for their natural talent. What it’s teaching them is that natural talent is more important than honest effort.

And while this may get you through the school years, once you’re out in the real world you’re competing with every other kid who was at the top of his English class. OMG! You actually have to put some effort into what you’re writing. And that’s when the procrastination starts. You start putting your writing off because if you don’t finish something, you can still pretend you’re the best.

When you race ahead in your reader and are praised for being smart, you’re learning to equate being smart with finding things easy, not overcoming challenges. So when school is done you may have the talent to succeed, but you don’t know the first thing about putting it to work for you.

Here’s the honest truth. Talent is all well and good, but without the hard work to back it up, it’s pretty much useless. You can be the most talented writer in the world, but if you don’t write, who’s going to know? But by the same token, hard work will only take you so far if you don’t have the talent for something. You can spend weeks painting a technically perfect picture, but if you don’t have the creative talent to back up all that hard work, all you’ve got is a picture, not art.

The true challenge to success comes from finding a balance between talent and effort; you need them both.

Wordage Report

Blog Posts (not counting this one)
3,955 words total
All right! Up by 100 words or so from the week before. And furthermore, I got all my blog posts up on time. Unlike this one. :-D

0 words total
Still haven’t been doing the reviews of the books I’ve been reading, but I am keeping track of them. I read a different kind of Seal romance - this was centered around a security agency that used disabled veterans. Then I read a nice, mellow contemporary story about a girl who got pregnant and left home to become a success. Not overly romantic perhaps, but it was a relaxing kind of read.

0 hours total
I haven’t really been keeping track of the amount of time I’ve spent editing, but it was a lot. At least I’m making progress with Earth. It would have been a lot more, but my weekend kind of got derailed so ...

New Words
3,067 words total
Okay, you’re probably wondering why the progress bar on the right doubled, yet I’m only showing a few thousand words above. That’s because I finished incorporating the NaNo words into the book, and the 3,000 I’m acknowledging are brand new words. The rest of them were pretty much old words. Now the pressure is on to keep going. ;-)

Weekly Goals:

Last week (or two):
Did not finish editing Earth.
Did not catch up on my book reviews.
I surpassed my 2,000 word goal for Wandering Wizards by 1,000 words
This week:
Continue, if not finish, the edits on An Elemental Earth.
Minimum of 2,000 new words on Wandering Wizards.
Catch up on my book reviews. I mean it!

Since it’s really the only thing I have going on at the moment, once again the excerpt is from Wandering Wizards. In this scene, Jessica’s friends Ellen and Howard are on their way to the Wild Woods Elven Realm, accompanied by the bard Sebastian and the elf guardsman Kaelan. Epona is the name Ellen gave to her horse:

Ellen could hear Howard and Sebastian murmuring to each other, but they were lagging too far behind for her to make out what they were saying. Maybe it was just as well, she thought with a fleeting smile.
She studied the elf riding in front of her. Damn, he looked just as good from behind. He’d been nothing but courteous to her, but the air seemed to sizzle between them every time they got too close. She wished Jessica was here. Of course she knew what Jessica would say. Jessica would tell her to stop being such a wuss and go for it.
Normally she wouldn’t hesitate. She’d had a number of boyfriends but things never got overly serious with any of them. But Kaelan . . . there was something different about him, and it wasn’t just because he was an elf. She could very well lose her heart to him, and that scared her more than anything. Because it could only lead to heartbreak. She couldn’t stay here, and he wouldn’t want to come to her world. Would he? There was only one way to find out.
Stretching upwards, she whispered to Epona, “Do you think you could move up beside Kaelan please?”
Epona’s ear twitched and she whickered, but her stride lengthened.
“Thank you,” Ellen whispered.
Kaelan looked over at her in surprise. “Is anything wrong?”
“No,” Ellen said, trying to control her blush response. “I was just curious about the Wild Woods Realm. Is it like the Darkwood Forest Realm?”
“No,” he shook his head. “For one thing it is much smaller and there is no city as there is in Darkwood, just a handful of villages and a town in the center. Truthfully, it has been a long time since I have been there.”
“You don’t visit your family there?”
“The visits became fewer as I became older. There never seemed to be time.”
Ellen was trying to picture Kaelan as a child. She’d bet he was just as cute as a little kid. Elf. Whatever.
“Didn’t your mother’s family ever visit you in Darkwood?”
“My mother’s family did not wish her to marry my father, despite the fact he would be able to provide well for her. To marry meant she would leave them.”
“But love will out,” Ellen guessed.
He glanced over at her. “It did indeed. They have been very happy and my mother never regretted her decision to follow her heart.” Smiling, he faced forward again. “My father says they met when he was delivering a set of silver gauntlets to the lord of the Wild Woods Realm. There was a festival and he was invited to stay over for it. Mother was with a group of young women who kept fawning over him, supposedly because he was from outside the realm. Mother was the worst of the lot and wouldn’t leave him alone until he danced with her. After that she was determined to make him hers and chased off every other woman who approached. Apparently the magic was strong in her blood. By the end of the evening he truly was hers, heart and soul.”
Ellen laughed. “And what does your mother say?”
“Ah. Mother claims this cheeky apprentice silversmith noticed the setting up for the festival and wheedled an invitation from the lord of the realm, who gave it to him only because he was so impressed by the quality of his work. He was making such a nuisance of himself, pestering all the young women for dances, that she took pity on her friends and made the supreme sacrifice of dancing with him herself. By the end of the festival he proved his way with silver also included a silver tongue, because he sweet-talked her into running away with him.”
“And which story do you believe to be true?”
“The one that my grandmother tells, that my mother noticed my father lurking on the fringes of the merry-makers and, feeling sorry for him, went over to see if she could convince him to join in. From the moment their eyes met they were lost to each other, and my grandmother knew she had lost her daughter, but gained a son.”
“I think I like your grandmother’s version best,” Ellen said with a smile.

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