Productivity

I’ve been a writer for way too many years to put any stock in any sort of “I just wait for Inspiration to strike me and then it’s as though I’m merely a passive conduit for my Muse” self-pose. That’s the fantasy of someone who wants to write but never will. In truth, you’ve got to put your hands on the keyboard and keep pushing the cursor to the right and hope that you wind up with the kind of garbage that can be composted into something valuable, over time.

Which isn’t to say that you’re in full control of the process every single time. My version of the former high school jock’s story about how he once scored four touchdowns in a single game is the day I got a great idea the moment I woke up and had 16,000 words of my next book finished by dawn the next day.

Yes, I was clearly in the zone that day and as soon as I pulled my MacBook off the nightstand and into my lap and sat up, I knew that I was going to be making huge progress on something.

Some days…

Well, I spent some time — way too much time — this morning imagining Disney owning the rights to the Velvet Underground’s entire catalogue and preparing a tribute show for the theme parks featuring classic Disney characters. I went back and forth a while before deciding that Donald Duck should sing “Heroin,” and not Goofy.

Then I fixed myself some lunch and realized that Donald Duck was okay, but Daffy Duck is clearly the only correct choice.

“Heroin” is all about the tempo’s slow, patient burn and its eventual disintegration into explosive chaos. Daffy’s a proven master at this sort of material.

By the time I finished my sandwich and cup of mini-pretzels, I had imagined Elmer Fudd on “Femme Fatale” (with Bugs Bunny coming in on the harmonies, in drag) and concluded that I didn’t want to go forward on this album unless we could move the whole project to Warners.

So the point of this story that a writer’s daily toil is to pursue an idea with diligence, without any assurances that the labor won’t further their professional or personal goals. Some days, the process yields a whole five percent of your next book, done and dusted in a single day. On others, you will wind up with a solid idea that you can’t monetize properly until many, many, valuable bits of intellectual property fall into the public domain.