Archive for February 8th, 2018

Managing Resources

I’m really a terribly vain creature, so I love compliments and being described with adjectives like “magnificent” and “incomparable”.  But there is one word I often see applied to me which, while it might have been true in the past, certainly is no longer:  that word is “tireless”.  Yes, it’s true that I’m still churning out a column every single day, but compare the average length today with the average length in 2011 or 2012 and I think you’ll see what I mean.  And not only are the columns shorter on average, they’re also less complex and I’m increasingly shying away from labor-intensive columns like harlotographies and reviews.  Furthermore, I no longer do written interviews because they take far too much time and effort, and while I’m flattered by offers to contribute to essay collections or present papers at academic conferences, I’m afraid those are far too time-and-labor intensive for me to be able to handle any more.  The truth is, I’m tired, y’all; in fact, exhausted would be a more honest appraisal.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to call it quits just yet; I figure I can handle another three years at my current pace before I need to take stock again (though of course, that’s little better than a wild-ass guess based on my rate of decline over the past eight years).  But if I’m going to last even that long I’m going to need to manage my steadily-shrinking resources.  In my twenties and thirties I was nigh-inexhaustible; I could keep going at whatever task I set myself until it was done, and was notorious for knocking out short academic papers in one or two sittings.  Even in my forties I was able to marshal my preternatural levels of nervous energy to create the monstrous edifice of prose you’re visiting right now; as I wrote six months ago,

When I first started The Honest Courtesan, I was releasing a decade of pent-up self-expression and trying to distract myself from a disintegrating marriage by burying myself in work (which is pretty much what I always did back before I realized what a tremendously stupid idea absolute sobriety was); now I’m older, wiser, sadder and wearier, and I just can’t maintain the pace I could then (which, to be honest, wasn’t really healthy back then either).  I’m worn thin and threadbare, and I need to devote more time and energy to paying work and to self-care (which includes spending quality time with people who love me)…

I’ve done pretty well on that account in the ensuing half-year, to the point where I’m giving myself permission to generally stop writing by midnight so I can get stoned, and even taking entire days or clusters of days off (though to manage that I need the excuse of spending it with someone I love).  And because I have been doing better, the change to my procedures heralded by this column isn’t quite so big as most of them have been in the past; I’m just going to ask y’all to please be more succinct when emailing me to ask for advice.  I understand that the problem motivating you to write may be a very painful and thorny one, and that you may feel the need to explain it in great depth; however, the longer the letter the more of a sense of anxiety I experience upon opening it, and the greater the anxiety the more likely I am to procrastinate in reading and answering it.  As a rule of thumb, if you can’t see the beginning of your email by the time you reach the end, it’s probably too long; I’m much less likely to feel overwhelmed by emails which fit neatly within a standard computer screen, and that in turn means you’re much more likely to receive a timely answer to your question.

Read Full Post »