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Monday, 24 February 2014

Doing Enough?

It's probably unsurprising that the question I ask myself on a daily basis is 'am I doing enough?' - it's a symptom of this work ethic I seem to have developed in the last few years. Just when I think I can't add 'more' to my to-do list, I find another gear. In the last month, I've started zooming until the figures waving at me to pull over and have a sit-down are inconsequential blurs. My father's resorted to replenishing my Smarties stash without complaint and knocking on the door every once in a while to make sure I eat proper meals. But, still, the question returns, usually at half past two in the morning when I can't possibly turn my mind off: am I doing enough?

My work diary suggests what can only be described as 'epic multi-tasking'. Since I restarted my it in January following a little hiatus I've apparently worked on two novel manuscripts (completely rewriting tens of thousands of one and indulging in some delicate rewriting on the other), written a full-length play draft, a short play draft and rewritten half a single television drama script draft. I've also got more things out at submission that I've had for literally years: two novels to competitions (different to the above), a script and two short stories. In the next two weeks I hope to add two more scripts to that and a novel (yes, another different one) to another competition. And I keep discovering things I want to enter. That's on the writing side of things. On the academic side, I deleted 8000 words of my fourth thesis chapter and drastically rewrote it (with success, I believe) and I'm currently in the process of drastically rewriting the first thesis chapter I wrote way back in 2011-12 (currently up to 9000 words on that). I've been doing detailed research for two essays I hope to write in the near future, doing some Collins biography work to get my facts completely straight and I've submitted two abstracts, one for a conference and one for an edited collected. Usually, when I hop from one project to another, I don't get much done of anything  but the last two months have defied that formula.

But, still, the question remains: am I doing enough? I think the fact is that I'm never going to believe I am. I mean, how long's a piece of string? What's enough? Do you quantify 'enough' by only doing what you 'have' to? In that case, all my writing's redundant. Or do you judge it by the amount of work you'd 'like' to do? Under that glare, I fail completely. I've made a conscious decision to do as much as mentally and physically possible in 2014, and I think I've stuck to that resolution in the first two months of the year. But, no, I don't feel like I'm doing 'enough' because my expectations of myself are ridiculously high. What's the point if they aren't? There's a wonderful line in Merrily We Roll Along's 'Old Friends' from writer Charley that sums up my feelings: 'Well, what's the point of demands you can meet?' Really, what is the point? It means you're not pushing yourself and I am determined to push myself.

Perhaps I'm asking the wrong question. Perhaps it's not 'am I doing enough?' Perhaps it's 'am I doing too little?' that will satisfy me that I'm not failing. That one I can almost always answer with a resounding 'NO'!

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