I was talking with Two about personal motivation. We were having one of our numerous conversations about effort and commitment. It was actually a very constructive discussion--illuminating in many ways. I was explaining how it can be frustrating for his parents to watch him fritter away time like a slacker, because we're not wired like that.
I was lying. I am totally wired like that. The Captain is not.
The Captain is one of the most competitive people I know. The others are his sisters, who have been known to play Hungry Hungry Hippos to win. Against kindergartners. The Captain has always been goal oriented, literally and figuratively. He still plays hockey like it's Game Seven of the Stanley Cup, even though it's Men's League, and he wants to be better than everyone else in every other aspect of life. I've taken to telling him "Go win your conference call!" or "Go win your trip through security!" which, thank God, he laughs about, because he's not crazy--competition is just his motivational tool.
Panic is my motivational tool. I am not inspired to accomplish anything until it's almost too late. The year before I got married I worked in an attorney's office half the day, then I would drive an hour to attend college in the afternoon. I wrote all my term papers the night before they were due, and I would go to the office at 6:00 in the morning and type them before work. I was also planning a wedding. Miraculously, everything got done. I graduated with honors, and got married about a month later.
Nowadays, I call this type of insanity "prioritizing." Nothing gets done until it reaches the top of the list. Unfortunately, I have a long list, so some things really languish down there on the bottom line. Often, last minute additions, like dioramas or book reports, leapfrog over the long-suffering low-listers, until they almost vanish from view.
My writing had almost been smudged out of existence, so I forced myself to prioritize. I signed up for a conference and applied for an appointment with an agent.
This is typical of my approach to my career, which is generally ass-backward. Usually, when an aspiring author asks to meet with an agent or editor, it is presumed they have a completed manuscript in hand. Not literally, because no agent would ever ask for the whole shebang during the sit-down. But if one is lucky, one will be asked to submit the first three chapters after the meeting.
So here's how I justified taking the appointment: I am almost done with the novel. Really, I'm cranking out the pages. I will be done by conference time. The agent will have read my first ten pages before our meeting, and because I am an awesome writer, she will ask to see the first three chapters. Only after that will she request the full manuscript.
I am praying to be in such a predicament.
The odds are stacked mightily agin' me. I don't know if you know this, but it's incredibly difficult to get published. But if I don't imagine this scenario, I will not finish. I know me too well. I'm already planning how I'll relinquish the time slot to someone more worthy. See? Inducing panic...NOW.