December 28, 2021

No such thing as “out of time”

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 11:57 pm by chavisory

One of the most personally important, life-changing, and freeing things I’ve been learning to internalize lately, as a writer or when I’m making art just for myself, is that you can just do things over again.

And maybe that sounds really obvious, but I think a lot of common experiences with schooling actually make this a difficult thing to learn. Homework is always due the next day, projects and papers within a pretty limited time frame; you have to get things right the first time or you will not finish at all, or you just have so much work spread between different classes that you never really have time to rework something to your satisfaction, even if it’s something you enjoy and care about, rather than just to get it done on time.

It’s like specifically being taught that you’re not supposed to need to practice. You’re not supposed to need more than a night’s processing time for any given skill or concept. Even as we’re told that the whole point of homework is for practice, we’re not really supposed to need more than one try at it.

And working in production, while the time pressure is part of what makes it exciting…this thing that people are buying tickets for? It doesn’t actually exist yet! It will in three weeks, though, we promise! …it also means that large amounts of money are at stake if initial design or technical decisions turn out not to work the way they need to and have to be revised.

But over the course of the pandemic, even though I did have some significant obligations, I also had more time than I think I ever have in my adult life when there was nothing really I had to do by a certain time, when there was no work I owed to anyone else for days and days on end. And only then did it start to truly hit me that things I’m doing essentially for myself, ostensibly because I enjoy them?

I can re-do them as many times as I want. I can take the time to make them as good as I can make them, and not just finished enough to satisfy a deadline or for the minimum grade I need to earn.

Not happy with how a poem came out? I can rewrite it. I can rewrite it as many times as it takes. And I don’t just mean edit or revise it. I mean start over from the beginning and write it again. It’s not due tomorrow. It’s not due ever. It’s not immutably screwed up forever because I approached it wrong the first time and now that’s just the way it is.

I did a visible mend on a pair of jeans recently and didn’t like how it turned out. So I took it out and did a different one.

I was reinforcing some fraying seams on my hoodie this week and didn’t like the job I did. I did a better job on the second arm. The next time I sit down to watch a movie, I’ll rip the stitching out of the first arm and do it again.

There are no rules. There are no time limits. The time you spent on the first try wasn’t wasted. That’s what it actually takes to get familiar with what you want and what you’re capable of.

2 Comments »

  1. jayfurr said,

    When I was at UGA, I preferred to type up my assigned papers the day of. It was made easy by my being an English major and hence, did not have to go to the library and research much of anything. I got so I could type up a ten page paper in about 90 minutes and BS well enough that the teachers would happily give me an A.

    (I was puzzled by that until I had occasion to read some of the papers turned in by my fellow students. Oh. Dear. Lord. They were English majors, many of them, and could not write a simple five-paragraph essay on a single topic let alone anything of longer length. Compared to them, I’m pretty sure the teachers considered me a welcome visitor from a strange planet.)

    • chavisory said,

      Man, I could never do that. I think I actually never pulled an all-nighter to finish a paper, either. (I came close a couple of times studying for chemistry or biology tests.) I was pretty good about giving myself enough time to finish, but especially if the topic was something I was really into, I always just wound up unhappy that I didn’t have the time to research more or say what I really wanted to say.

      Particularly with a makeup design project that I think I definitely had the seeds of what I really wanted to make it, but just didn’t have the time for the research to fully conceptualize it.


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