Guest Post: “On the Benefits of Staying Busy” by Michael Chin

Author photo.jpgMeet Michael Chin.

Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and currently lives in Las Vegas with his wife and son. He has three full-length short story collections on the way: You Might Forget the Sky was Ever Blue from Duck Lake Books (available for pre-order from the publisher here: https://catalog.ducklakebooks.com/p/you-might-forget-sky-was-ever-blue.html or on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/You-Might-Forget-Ever-Blue/dp/1943900167), Circus Folk from Hoot ‘n’ Waddle, and The Long Way Home from Cowboy Jamboree Press. He has also published three chapbooks: Autopsy and Everything After with The Florida ReviewDistance Traveled with Bent Window Books, and The Leo Burke Finish with Gimmick Press.

Find him online at miketchin.com and follow him on Twitter @miketchin

 

The Guest Post.

On the Benefits of Staying Busy

One of the more memorable moments of the original Avengers movie sees The Incredible Hulk reveal how and why he’s now able to control his transformation between regular ol’ human being Bruce Banner, and big green super hero—a shift formerly subject to his emotional state (i.e., when he was mad, the Hulk came out).

He casually explains that rather than having to get upset now, and rather than being subject to his emotions, instead now he’s always angry.

Full disclosure: I’m not a big fan of the Marvel movies for the low/contrived/artificial stakes and excessive action sequences that pervade most of them. This moment, however, teaches something valuable in the name of consistency and harnessing that which risks teetering out of control.

I write more than most people I know, which is a part of why this year and a half will see not just my first, or first two, but my first three books launch into the world.

I’m always writing.

Workaholicism is too often celebrated in our culture as people put achievement and money ahead of their families, health, and mental wellbeing—you know, actual happiness. Advocating for the practice of always writing might feel like an argument in this vein, but it isn’t exactly. I’ve found that consistently writing some—say, a half hour, five hundred words a day—is both sustainable for me and enough to have a lot of pages after every few months, every year, even in the typical case that while parenting and working at least one job at a time (usually more), I don’t have a ton of extra time or energy to give.

Staying busy in this style also facilitates diversifying my projects. I first drafted the collection of stories about circus performers that would become my second book, Circus Folk, in 2013. In between drafts, I wrote the stories that would become my first book, You Might Forget the Sky was Ever Blue. In the anything but linear process of drafting, revising, and organizing that manuscript, I wrote other stories and poems, and drafted multiple novels—some of which have been published as stand-alone pieces in literary journals, some I’m still re-working, and of course a fair portion of which will probably never see the light of day. (Though I should also note that those in between times included drafting over forty linked flash pieces that became the backbone of my third book, The Long Way Home.)

I say all of this not to suggest that my way is the way for everyone. Neither can I claim enough success to justify such bold pronouncements, nor does everyone have the same work style, nor resources that I have at my disposal (not least of all, more than one full-time job that has facilitated stealing time for my own work in between long stretches of doing the work I’m being paid for). It’s worth some food for thought, however, for those writers, like myself, who have also spent significant stretches not producing as much as they want or feeling disconnected from their writerly selves. Sometimes, it’s less useful to get busy than to stay busy.

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