Thursday, November 30, 2006

integrity in work

Today I finished the rewrite of my first novel. I've been considering the writing process this week, and "work" in general. What it means to do good work. How to balance the varying kinds of work I do.

My psychotherapy work with clients is easy to hold with integrity, easy to define what that means. It is private work, and sacred, and my commitment is both to witness and contain, and equally important, to keep myself intact and healthy so I have the strength to uphold my end of the respectful partnership.

Integrity in writing feels more nebulous. I write mostly fiction, and without outlines or plots drawn ahead of time. I work from a kernel of something that expands as it goes, follow the clues of character and story where they lead me. And yet, at some point, the pages take on a form that has its own integrity, and my task then is to honor that.

This rewrite is a ms that got a lot of attention several years ago. It was good then, it's better now, and I'm not sure if it simply wasn't ready to be finished before or if I've looked at it with fresh eyes and seen something more to do. I feel now it's more marketable, and determining how to move toward that, while keeping the integrity of the story intact, has been a challenge.

On a more mundane level, there are endless chores and tasks associated with the daily management of a home and a barn. I try to find the zen in doing those chores, and while I can easily get caught up in the frenzy of wanting them all done and checked off some master list, I also feel the effect of doing them well, for their own sake, and finding incentive in what the little things mean to the bigger picture. Small things done well can be profound.

How to transfer this to children is a puzzle right now. The concept and the visceral satisfaction in a job well done, even when the job is mucking a stall or cleaning a bathroom sink.


Joni said...

This reminds me of Robert M. Pirsig's investigation of Quality in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Keep to your standards as best you can. And hopefully we can manage another get together soon.

This week I'm trying to find the zen of cleaning my house since I foolishly offered to host the company Christmas party. It is tomorrow night. Whatever doesn't get done, doesn't get done. It will be fun regardless.

I hope. LOL

billie said...

Hope your party goes well - the best part of throwing a party for me is getting the house cleaned up!

We have Pony Club rating test this weekend, with my daughter going for two rating tests at one time. The entire week has been given over to prep work and shopping for some needed items.

Sunday my goal is to ride Keil Bay, write, and maybe do Christmas tree and eggnog in the evening.


Peter Bryenton said...

You can plant the seed of your idea in your childrens' minds.

One future day, if they choose to become parents, it will germinate, grow, finally be understood, and, hopefully, be planted in a new mind once again.

billie said...

Thanks, Peter, for that reminder. I suspect it is planted there already - I try to remember to note, out loud, the pleasure I take in work of all kinds.