Pressure is a good thing
I had a first meeting with my supervisor today for the major writing project I am to complete this semester. Well, I probably won’t complete the whole thing, but the intention is to get at least 20,000 to 30,000 words done before June to put me in a position to actually finish it, with potential for publication down the track.
My supervisor is quite a well-known and critically successful author (though I assume not commercially successful enough to not have to teach). That said, I was still very surprised and impressed by how many great suggestions he/she had for me. Before leaving for Shanghai I had compiled a 1.5 page outline/proposal for my project, which he/she provided a little bit of feedback on. Upon my return, I beefed it up to a comprehensive 4 page proposal.
Using that 4-pager, my supervisor was able to tell me which books and authors I should read, which shows and films I should see, what I should aim for and what I should steer clear from. He/she also immediately grasped what I needed to concentrate on and the things I needed to turn these 4 pages of pretty rough ideas into a proper narrative that would capture audiences. The advice was all spot on. He/She hit everything right on the nail and set off multiple light bulbs in my head. Don’t you love it when that happens?
Now, with the short China trip out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. Our next meeting is in a couple of weeks and I need to have words for my supervisor to see. I need to have words for my other class to workshop. I need to finish my next magazine article (due for publication in June). I have to find a publisher for one of the other articles I completed last year. I have books I need to finish quickly because I have recommended books to read. I have books and short stories to read for class. I have pieces I need to read and workshop. I have to submit an entry for a short story writing competition. I have heaps of posts I need to catch up on. I need to check on how my domain change is going (haven’t heard a peep for a month). And while I am doing all of this, I need to keep an eye out for potential jobs, because I’ll be graduating in a few months.
Do I feel a bit of pressure? Of course I do. But strangely, I welcome it. I’ve spent too long NOT having any pressure and it hasn’t been healthy for my motivations and ambitions. Maybe that’s why certain authors can keep churning out books faster than printers even though they are already successful — because they have contracts that require them to write more books and adhere to deadlines. Maybe that’s why first-time novelists take so bloody long to finish that first novel. I feel like I need a bit of a push right now, since having no push hasn’t been doing it for me.