Saturday, August 30, 2014

Three Topics with No Conclusion

I have three topics on my mind, but can't figure out what to say about them.  
First off...
I woke up very late today, the first day of my three day Labor Day weekend.  That's because I got to bed late after coming home very, very tired.  I worked fourteen and a half hours on Friday, by my best reckoning, in order to preserve that long holiday. 
You see, I was on vacation for most of August and things didn't go so well while I was out.  It was a disappointment month.  My boss has already told me, only half-jokingly, or more like five percent jokingly, that I'm not going to be allowed to take that much time off all at once again.  
Anyway, my bosses wanted me to put together a positive ending for this disappointment and sent me an email around lunchtime asking me if I was planning on bringing my staff in over the weekend to see if we improve the numbers.  
I could go over my first through tenth internal responses to this query, but I want to keep my job and I'll refrain from doing so.  What I did instead was approach my staff, and that of the invoicing department, who needed to be there to bill out whatever we finished for those numbers to be added to, in order to see who could come AND, more importantly, who would be willing to come.  
As expected, the idea of cutting a portion of their three-day holiday was not greeted joyously.  The most common reaction I got was something along the lines of a disbelieving stare, a guttural wheeze and, in a cautiously tuned voice, "I...  Could, but..." ending with a clearly visible plea in their eyes.  
I knew what that silent plea was asking me.  "Do I have to?"  If they had shouted it out loud, it would not have been clearer.  
One of my employees, gave me the alternative when she asked, "Can't I just stay late?  I'll stay until Midnight if I have to If I don't have to come in tomorrow."  
When I posed that question to my crew, it was met with unanimous approval.  Even when I added the caveat that we'd have to get out Every Single Doable order in the department, they were all onboard.  They'd stay until they achieved that goal.  
So we stayed.  All of us.  And everyone worked.  Hard.  They were focused.  They helped each other.  They took on other jobs they didn't normally do to ensure that everything got done.  
One employee, who had told me previously that he had to leave on time because of a trip he was making with his family for the weekend, came back to say he'd made arrangements to leave Saturday morning so he could stay and help everyone out.  Another employee who'd left for the day returned to continuing working into the night.  Friends of hers that texted her expressed their disbelief that she had done that.  
I thanked them.  I bought them dinner.  I felt grateful.  
We worked so late that some of the work was invoiced on Saturday (because of a two hour time difference between my office and our corporate office).  And we got out just about every single order that could possibly get done.  
"This was a good day," the invoicing supervisor said after she posted her final report and walked past me out the door.  It was, too.  It was much better than if we'd come in the next day.  It was an accomplishment.  I had been thinking to myself that it might be better just to write August off as a bad month and start fresh on Tuesday in September.  But doing it this way was a much better, fresher way to start the new month.  
There's a lesson in this that I'm not yet able to articulate, but it's a lesson learned, nonetheless.  
And so it goes...
I've been writing much more vividly recently.  Or so I believe.  
Part of it comes from having toured all those castles and manors and old parts of old English towns while on vacation.  If you're writing a fantasy novel, especially one set in a pseudo-European setting, I highly recommend going to the old part of some European city.  
One of the things that impressed me, for instance, was how narrow and tightly packed people lived back then.  If they made a door, it was made just big enough for someone to go through (which as noticeably smaller than the size people are now).  I think writers sometimes rely too much on what they see in movies and TV when describing their imaginary environments.  Oh, the houses and buildings looked like what I thought they would look like.  But their attitudes were different.  They leaned over you to see what you were doing there, and crowded close around you as if to say, "Hey, mate...  What're you doin' in my part of the world?"  Just looking, I promise.  
It also comes just from having all that time thinking about my writing.  And the time with writing colleagues talking about writing.  I can't remember where I picked it up from, but when I'm writing a scene now I'm more aware of the point of view character's "hidden senses," those other than seeing or hearing.  
Right now I'm looking at the letters appear on my computer screen, and I'm hearing the bluegrass music piping over the speakers of the Starbucks I'm sitting in.  But I'm also feeling the warmth of my laptop's metallic surface against my wrists and the firm, pleasant resistance of the keys as I tap on them.  There's the lingering taste of passionfruit, and the faint ascorbic sting at the back of my throat from the passionfruit lemonade I finished.  And the warmth in this corner, facing outside, away from the air conditioning outlet.  It's good.  
The hardness of the stool I'm siting on against my butt I could do without, but you can't have everything.  
I like going places and how they stir up your mind like this.  I need to keep doing it.  
And so THAT goes...
I'm thinking about dreams.  Having a dream.  Pursuing a dream.  It is something one should do.  
In the past, I've believe that dreams are what we all live for.  It is our dreams that give a person's life meaning.  No one lives to go to work everyday.  But they may very well live for the means to do something important to them that working allows them to do.  
In the past few months, for the first time I can recall, I've heard people express opinions AGAINST having or pursuing a dream.  
Tim Minchin, the Australian satirist and musician, has a viral video of a commencement speech where he tells the graduates that it isn't important to have a dream.  "If you focus too far out in front of you, you might not see the shiny thing out of the corner of your eye."  And I listened to another writer on the radio (name forgotten) who said pursuing dreams could take you too far out of yourself.  Better, he said, to find out what you're good at and do that, as it will give you more opportunities for happiness.  
There's a Japanese TV show I watch on the weekends that goes by the name "Global Messenger" in English.  The show is about Japanese people who live all over the world, pursuing their dreams, and the friends, family and loved ones back home wondering how they are doing and when they might come home.  The family sends some gift which the people on the show take to the expatriate expression their feelings and often their support toward the dream pursuer.  This often leads to a teary expression on the part of the person living overseas to put more effort into reaching their goals.  
I pursue a dream.  I've been doing it for years now.  I made choices about how to live my life and schedule my day, but I've not run off to Paris or gone to live in the Canadian Northwest wilderness in a yurt to achieve it.  I'm wondering how I would express my belief on dreams to someone.  Live for your dreams, but still find a way to put food on the table?  Hmm?  
And so that goes as well...
I think what these three topics have in common is they are all about doing something now.  By not putting off the "fresh start" I wanted and trying to achieve something last night, I got to a place where I feel I've accomplished something and can take my rest accordingly.  By being more in the moment when I write, I finding the sensations that make it more real for me and my future readers.  With my dreams, I keep them alive by doing what I need to do now, enjoying them now and not postponing gratification until achievement.  
There.  That's what I meant to say.


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