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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? :-)

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



( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
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Feb. 26th, 2009 02:34 am (UTC)
This is why I love your blog. Yes, it's a decent metaphor.
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!
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.
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!
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 :)

Mar. 7th, 2009 04:58 am (UTC)
decent metaphor. sigh. i have to go shoot up now. ;)
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Jim C. Hines


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