Knowing Your Weakness(es)

So I’ve been busy. Not usually one to brag, but there really is something to be said about accomplishing something one sets out to do, especially when that something was completed sooner than expected. The satisfaction of completing a task that takes many hours over the course of the week is payoff enough, but proving to one’s self that one can do it, in a timely fashion and with efficiency, is almost enough.

Next stop, the DMV.

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There is also something to be said about the little accomplishments in life. Anyone who’s read about (or met) Tiger Mothers know that they put their children through a lot more than most people see in their lives. Among those things is consistent, expensive music lessons, regardless of whether the kid enjoys music. For those of you unfamiliar, the reason Tiger Mothers force their child(ren) to learn the piano/flute/violin until they’re fantastic at it even if they hate it is not necessarily because they expect their daughter or son to become a professional musician. Rather, there is a simple but crucial over-arching lesson in all those years of music practice: If you do something long enough with persistence, you can accomplish anything.

I am not a parent and don’t plan to advocate Tiger Mother methods, but I will say that we could all learn a little something from this.

Not very long ago I picked up a guitar. Having zero music training but having (what I like to think is) a pretty good ear, two in fact, I’ve slowly taught myself a few short tunes from various video game themes I’ve always loved. By no means am I good, but I’ve been able to produce a few diddies that I would call passably recognizable. The point? I was persistent with testing each string and finger placement, being unable to read music, note by note, until it sounded exactly the same. Even if the way there sounded like a tarantula was skittering up and down the strings.

This has proven to me, in a less-intense Tiger Mothery sort of way, that I can do more than I let myself think I can. Hell, the other night, being the homebody that I am (writer, hello), I managed to work up the nerve to make small talk with a pretty girl at a bar. Today I picked up that same old guitar and played my (possibly most) favorite video game theme. Weeks ago I would never have believed myself capable of either.

Now here’s the kicker. I believe all this not only can be applied to writing, but to what we’re doing when we aren’t writing. What we do with our “spare time.” Much as Jevon Knight put it in his post about Newton’s Law in respect to writing, it’s about inertia. To build on that, I believe that it’s also about removing obstacles that would otherwise provide inertia moving against you.

It’s confession time.

Last weekend my older brother conned me into playing World of Warcraft when I spent a few nights visiting there. I have a checkered past with WoW, and could sense the inertia building even as I fought the urge. Having activated a 10-day trial, a sort of “Hey, you’re account is open for free for a little over a week, go ahead and try it, we know you’ll like the changes,” it was harmless enough and we had good fun.

It’s kinda like Blizzard saying “Hey, try this cocaine and morphine cocktail, it’s not so bad at first. You’ll thank me later.”

Over the last week, I felt an all-too familiar feeling growing in my brain. It was a void, a place where all my creative energies and thoughts usually are, and they were gone. For reasons I really don’t understand, World of Warcraft (and a few other select “addictive” games) utterly drain me of my creative drive. They’re fun, they’re good at passing the time, and for me, well, that’s about it. The best experiences I get are sitting with friends or family, accomplishing quests and going on adventures, but the fact of the matter is that that is a very small amount of the game time put into it. Most of it is leveling, or grinding, working on professions-reputations-battlegrounds — anyone familiar with WoW knows what I’m talking about.

And then there comes a point when one looks at the clock and says “Huh. I basically did nothing for the last four hours.”

So to conclude, I had initially no intention of renewing my subscription with Blizzard, in spite of the petitions of my brother and company. But then, I initially had no intention of installing it after getting back home either.

As of this post, my PC is WoW-less, having decided to uninstall it and remove any sense of temptation or lure. Funny how the smallest nudge from someone on Twitter can tilt the scale of uncertainty.

I feel better already. That void has already begun to refill with creative energies.

And with that, dear readers, I have a fun track for you to enjoy.

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