Thursday, 3 February 2011

Yes, I'm a sub-optimal forager - 9th June 2010

My week has been fairly routine (for me). I've been getting up early to work on my novel before work, working on my novel after work, thinking about my novel on the bus on the way to and from work and in between actually been AT work in the office full time. I’ve been reliably informed that this is just what it's like when you’re starting out. Little bits of encouragement from readers, the occasional publication, but meanwhile you are quietly crafting, loving and growing this book all on your own. I can't even let anyone see it which is weird as I'm usually really open to opinions on my work but this book is still mine and I'm still bringing it to life. I don’t even dare think about how much time I’m spending on it, it must be hundreds of hours, all for something that is in no way guaranteed to pay off. But I can’t not do it; can you imagine living with that? Always wondering if you really could have been good at something you love but never actually knowing? That’s a life half lived.

There is a theory in Behavioural Biology (out comes the science hat!) that plots the optimal time an animal will spend foraging for food at a particular patch. It’s all to do with how great the rewards are. I'm sub-optimally persistent (with not even a sniff of a reward) because I'm oddly confident this is a great patch I've got and that I just need to keep digging. And I’m a human not a bird (surprise, did you imagine big bird sitting and typing this?!) and we're irrational like that. So there.
The exciting thing with my little novel is that I think it's getting there (or is it? Oh God, I don’t know!!). It feels like sitting at a potting wheel. It requires all my concentration, a lot of love and a lot of skill. I just hope I have enough of each. If it's hard work that gets you there then I'm in. I am SO in. I'm putting in the hours and feeling it but when I get there and have a book in my hands that I love, then it will all be worth it. And I’m not leaving my patch until I get there.

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