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This is something I've been thinking about off and on for a while now, and it mostly comes down to accountability.

As we're growing up, we learned that sometimes we could dodge the consequences of our actions. A well-told excuse or lie might keep us from getting into trouble. (No, really! I swerved to avoid a cat and hit a patch of ice, and that's how I ended up in the ditch. Nothing to do with doing donuts on the backroads...) It continues well into college, as any teacher of freshman composition can tell you. (If certain of my students had been half as creative and clever on their assignments as they were with their excuses, they would have done much better in the class.) Even as grown-ups, many of us still talk our way out of tickets, offer excuses for missing deadlines at work, and so on.

With my diabetes, I found myself wanting to make excuses when I went in to see my endocrinologist. "Oh, I know my blood sugars were high that weekend, but that was because I was under stress, and I had a convention, and then...." Sometimes those excuses were true and valid. Sometimes I just hadn't been as careful about monitoring my blood sugar as I should have been. But I realized it doesn't make a damn bit of difference.

Lousy blood sugar control will damage my body in the long term. My body doesn't care whether I had a really good excuse, or even a perfectly valid reason for that poor control. This week I've been fighting a cold, which always makes my blood sugars run high. That's not my fault, and I do my best to compensate, but the numbers are still high. I can either focus on why it's not fair and it's totally not my fault, or I can accept it and deal with it as much as I can. Easier said than done sometimes, but I do my best.

Writing is the same way. There are days I haven't been able to write. Sometimes for perfectly valid reasons, like various surgeries on my wife, son, and daughter over the past few years, or just the fact that I want to spend some time with my family. Other times, it's a less "noble" choice on my part. (I didn't have to watch Criminal Minds last night. I could have gotten at least a few more paragraphs written...)

The thing is, in the end, it doesn't matter. Unlike most day jobs, where you can dodge some responsibility, sweet-talk your boss, and so on, with writing you either write or you don't. You and you alone are accountable for your writing career. You can get advice and support, just like you can with diabetes management, but you're the one who has to do the work.

Decent metaphor, or am I stretching? :-)



Reading
Deathwish, by Rob Thurman
Amazon | Mysterious Galaxy
 Writing
Red Hood's Revenge


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( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
cathschaffstump
Feb. 25th, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
No, it works for me.

My Weight Watchers leader also suggests that "no one else put the doughnut in your mouth" philosophy is good for accountability in losing weight.

Accountability. Use it, or go into another career.

Catherine
seanan_mcguire
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
Once you bring Weight Watchers into it, though, I have to offer my big WW philosophy: own your cheesecake. It's true that no one else put that doughnut in your mouth. It's also true that if you have enough bad days without doughnuts, eventually you're just going to eat one because you're being blamed anyway.

Sometimes, yes, you do have to watch the new episode of Supernatural, or go to the park with the kids, unless your deadline is tomorrow (in which case, you had a few too many unnecessary doughnuts earlier in the year). Sometimes, yes, you do have to eat that pumpkin parfait. Otherwise you'll get bitter and angry over the deprivation, and then you'll actually slack off more.

I like telling my WW leader where those five pounds came from, including precise nutritional data and how much better that pumpkin mousse was than sex.
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:18 pm (UTC)
My understanding is that diets are often *more* successful when you build in the occasional lapse and allow yourself to splurge. Not often, but every once in a while...

It makes sense that this would apply to the writing as well.
cathschaffstump
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
I hear you!

I try to splurge once a week, just because it really helps. For me the splurge of choice lately has been a local pizzeria's deep dish Chicago style.

I've never had a food that was better than sex. TMI, I think.

Catherine
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, I decided I was going to figure out the combination of long- and short-acting insulin to allow myself to splurge on ice cream sundaes from time to time. It took some research, but I got there. It actually helped my sanity a great deal, I suspect...

On the other hand, Chicago-style pizza sounds really good.
cathschaffstump
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
Can you have pizza when you are diabetic? At all?

Catherine
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:12 pm (UTC)
You can have anything you want, so long as you calculate the insulin correctly. Some foods are trickier than others. Pizza is a known bastard, in part because of the high cheese and fat content. But it's another one I refused to give up :-)

7.5 units of insulin when I eat, and another 13 spread over an 8 hour long-term bolus. It's not exact, but with a little tweaking, it keeps my blood sugar under control for the meal. (However, this only works with the same pizza order from the same place. If we switched pizza places, I'd have a harder time of it because the food would be different.)
cathschaffstump
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:21 pm (UTC)
Although it's oodles of months away, we'll probably want to talk to you about the kinds of foods you can eat/like to eat when you come to Icon.

Catherine
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:34 pm (UTC)
How far do you think Chicago will deliver? :-)
cathschaffstump
Feb. 26th, 2009 04:59 pm (UTC)
Chicago could deliver, but you want the Zoey's deep dish pizza from Marion, which is a Cedar Rapids burb.

I'm just sayin'.

Catherine
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:33 pm (UTC)
Mm... donuts.

So what would be the writing-equivalent of the donut? :-)
cathschaffstump
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:56 pm (UTC)
Reading a really good novel by your favorite author in one sitting. Yummy-yum.

Catherine
queenoftheskies
Feb. 25th, 2009 06:48 pm (UTC)
Good metaphor.

I'm diabetic, too, so I can understand that comparison.
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:40 pm (UTC)
And the rejection letters are the injections! :-)
aprilhenry
Feb. 25th, 2009 06:49 pm (UTC)
Decent.

It's kind of like talking to God - your excuses are just that. No hiding from yourself.
brainstormfront
Feb. 25th, 2009 06:56 pm (UTC)
Good metaphor (and the kick in the pants I needed to get off the Internet and down to work). Thanks.

SES
seanan_mcguire
Feb. 25th, 2009 06:57 pm (UTC)
Decent metaphor. I often compare actually sitting down and writing to taking proper care of my back. Also to cleaning the cat box. (Look. No one else is going to do it for you, and if you leave it undone long enough, everything turns to shit and no one wants to come over anymore.)
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
True, but the end result is much prettier with the writing. I can't imagine putting a litter box up on my ego shelf, regardless of how clean it was :-)
cathshaffer
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
Totally awesome, spot-on, accurate observation, there. I don't speak diabetes, but as others have pointed out, weight loss is a good metaphor, too. I'm counting calories these days. I count them every day, even when I know I'm going to "splurge." I need to run a deficit to lose the weight. I can make all kinds of excuses about why I went over my allowance on a particular day, but in the end, the numbers add up the way they add up. If I had what I think is a good reason or excuse for a bad day, then there's no sense complaining about the numbers.
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
Weight loss works well too, and seems to be a more universally accessible metaphor :-)

It also works in that you're going to have good days and bad, no matter how disciplined you are. You make as many good days as you can, accept the bad, and get on with it...
(Deleted comment)
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:39 pm (UTC)
Always happy to kick my friends :-)
naturalfractual
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:07 pm (UTC)
Livinf Life
Living life GIVES you things to write about - lessons learned, pain shared, joy.

FOr what it is worth - I am now well into Goblin Quest and am thoroughly enjoying myself.

As readers - we will be patient while you live and learn life, because you will reward us greatly in the end. Of that I have no doubt.
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Living Life
Glad to hear it! Jig's fun ... and yes, some of his experiences definitely came from real life. The emotional, if not the actual.
mtlawson
Feb. 25th, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
I would say that you've got a decent metaphor there. While I've not personally had diabetes, I've seen my Grandfather develop Type II about 10 years after he retired. He's easily the strongest willed person I know, and he can stick to his diet religiously to the point where he never bothers with insulin shots. (He's the same way about everything, really; just don't get him started about WW2, stamp collecting, or the Steelers.)

While you may not need so quite as strong a will to keep writing, there's simply no way you can write without having the will to push yourself through the maze of temptation that is out there. Heck, when you're simply sitting in front of a computer you're confronted with temptation that you have to overcome in order to keep going.

As long as you keep winning the willpower battle more often than not, you'll keep moving forward. Besides, I'm sure there's a good story buried in there...
(Deleted comment)
orejen
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
I hope you don't smoke.
My dad is diabetic AND a smoker. He had a triple bypass and still didn't quit smoking.

He finally had to stop smoking though, or his doctor wouldn't perform a bypass on his foot to restore his circulation, they would have performed a below the knee amputation instead.

The doctor warned my dad that although they had saved his leg, that his middle toe on that foot didn't look good, that it might self amputate or need to be amputated.

My mom, an RN, was giving him foot care a little over a week ago when the first knuckle of his toe fell off into her hand.

His toe fell off!

My mom says that is the weirdest thing that ever happened to her. I believe it.

I have insulin resistance, and I have not been as good as I could be at following a healthier (low carb) diet so that I can avoid diabetes, or at least postpone it. I am being good now. I hope I can make it last.
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 09:10 pm (UTC)
Re: I hope you don't smoke.
Don't smoke, don't drink. I'm very boring in a lot of ways...

The toe coming off sounds like a bizarre experience, not to mention being disturbing as heck. I'm glad your dad's taking more care of himself now, though.

And good luck. They've got a lot more tools to control and manage the disease today than they used to, but if you can put it off, that's a good thing.
threeoutside
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
It's an excellent metaphor, as long as you don't forget: not writing won't kill you, but ignoring your diabetes will. Diabetes is a fucking bastard. My dear hubby struggled with it for years and in the end, his failures contributed to his death (which wasn't directly due to diabetes). The thing is, with this disorder you are up against laws of biology that take place on the molecular level. What the uber-organism (you) thinks or says about it, those molecules don't know and don't care. They just operate on chemical and physical principles. Your mental and emotional attitude certainly affects the processes both chemically and in how you behave, and that's where the tough part dwells. The consequence of indulging in a pizza are preordained and will occur whether they manifest now or later.

The consequences of not writing will be you don't have any stories, books, poems or scripts written. Doesn't kill you. But it, too, is preordained: If you don't write them, they won't get written. There is no arguing with either end of your metaphor; the difference is, one can kill you and the other can't.

All of which is to say, congratulations on how well you are doing with diabetes. I admire that so much because I know how hard it is. I know well the feeling of deprivation and unfairness that can de-rail that. But every time a diabetic lets him/herself indulge just a little, those molecules are going to do what they do. Take care of yourself, dood - so you can keep writing those terrific stories for decades and decades!
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 09:07 pm (UTC)
True. If I get overly stressed and take a month or two off from writing, it would probably be a good thing, actually. Can't do that with the diabetes...

So far, everything seems to be under control. The eye doc. can't tell from my retinas that I'm diabetic, and I haven't noticed any loss of sensation or other side effects. A1Cs are all coming in around 6.0 or so. So far, so good.

The disease is still a fucking bastard, though.
timakers
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:40 pm (UTC)
It's a good metaphor. I adopt mantras sometimes, just as a mental focus when I'm having trouble bearing down, and my favorite one is "Only I can stop myself" or "No one can stop me but me". It's true. Either you write or you don't. No one is stopping you but you.

Anyway. Now I have to go write that novel. Damn you, Hines!
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 09:08 pm (UTC)
What good is my LiveJournal if I can't occasionally kick all my friends in the butts? With RSS feeds added to LJ, I can kick hundreds of butts simultaneously! Gotta love technology!
melissajm
Feb. 25th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I needed some butt-kickage.
mtlawson
Feb. 25th, 2009 11:51 pm (UTC)
Ouch. My rear hurts.
xjenavivex
Feb. 25th, 2009 08:55 pm (UTC)
This was infinitely more helpful than I can ever express.
jimhines
Feb. 25th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
Very glad to hear it!
mystcphoenxcafe
Feb. 25th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
Greetings!

Works for me. Accountability is accountability is accountability, regardless of why or when or where we learn it. The important thing is the learning of it. And then the application of it, which isn't always the same thing. ;-D

Good Fortune & Bright Blessings!
-Barbara
crinklequirk
Feb. 25th, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yup. Works for allergies and asthma too, and parenting, for that matter.

I've sacrificed a lot of things for my children, and I firmly believe it's an investment in them and their future.

Same with the others.

You could mix it with one of my favourite phrases:

Accountability: If not me, then who?
elven_wolf
Feb. 26th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
This is why I love your blog. Yes, it's a decent metaphor.
ext_170451
Feb. 26th, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
Hi, Mr. Hines!

I've just found out that I'm on the way to becoming diabetic as well. My blood sugar is high, and the disease is in my family gene pool too. The news really got me down. I should've never taken that blood test :D; I thought I had years left of careless living before I had to watch it.

Thanks for this post. It's nice to know that somehow, this is manageable. In addition to diet, is regular exercise also a part of your routine. Everyone's telling me that sweating it out also helps keep the blood sugar down, but since I prefer to just sit on my butt and read, exercise is gonna' be a real challenge!
mordraeth
Feb. 26th, 2009 03:53 am (UTC)
That's a great metaphor. Thanks Jim. Another well timed post for me. Though I've been doing a lot better lately, there are still definitely some times when I go to bed thinking I wasted an hour here or there during the day that could have been productive writing time. I have no one but myself to blame.
laughingfalcon
Feb. 26th, 2009 04:49 am (UTC)
It's true that you need to be careful and responsible for your health, but I hope you won't beat yourself up overly either. You can't control all the factors so just do your best. And it IS good that you have worked out ways to reward yourself on occasion. It helps keep your sanity!

As far as writing, only you can determine if you have been 'slacking' overly. If you manage to balance it out on another day you shouldn't feel guilty, especially for wanting to spend time with your family. If you can honestly look in the mirror and say that over-all you are doing your best then don't over analyze it. Otherwise you kill the joy you are trying to get in the moments away from your writing that are meant to refresh you so you can approach it with renewed vigor! Be well, and I hope you find that perfect balance point between work and family. Be well!
dynastic_queen
Feb. 26th, 2009 09:01 am (UTC)
Very deep, Hines. A correlation I haven't read before, and needed to.

Go on, with yo' Bad Self. (i.e. thank you :)

msjellybean
Mar. 7th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
decent metaphor. sigh. i have to go shoot up now. ;)
( 44 comments — Leave a comment )

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