Monday, November 27, 2006

Fun, and Domesticating the Muse

Remember the other day, when I talked about how we all have hot buttons or issues that make us see red, and can even make us irrationally argue with someone who was just making a light comment, or a joke?

I have two: teaching, and the word "fun."

Believe it or not, the word "fun" just makes my blood boil. Please let me side-track a moment:

"The only things that can teach writing are reading, writing and the semi-domestication of one's muse." ~Stephen King, from the Washington Post article on the Writing Life.

Today was one of those exhausted days. I don't know why. Last night, I couldn't keep my eyes open to watch a tv show. This morning, the alarm went off for a full 15 minutes before I even woke up (something that hasn't happened to me since high school, eons ago!) and while I was writing at Borders, I dozed off twice. (I woke up when my head dropped, LOL.)

The wonderful thing? I got 1,000 words written. Yes, I'll probably need to make them a bit better tomorrow, but they're pretty close to what I would have written if I'da been awake. It did take me three hours instead of an hour and a half, but still, there was something so reassuring about the fact that, no matter what, I can get words out on the paper.

Even during the bad days.

On my myspace blog, someone mentioned that they don't write, if they aren't having fun. That's great! That's fine! Nothing wrong with that, if that works for you. And that person probably didn't mean it in the way I interpreted it. Remember, I get completely irrational at the word "fun" and start ranting and raving like a lunatic.

But see, the muse isn't going to get semi-domesticated if we don't feed it daily. If we want to make this a career, we've got to develop a good, solid, working relationship with that "one small animal, sometimes quite vicious, that makes its home in the bushes. It's a scruffy little thing with fleas and often smells of whatever nasty mess it's been rolling in. It can never be more than semi-domesticated and isn't exactly known for its loyalty..." (Stephen King)

So why, after what seemed like a sidetrack, does the word "fun" make my blood boil?

Because fun is fleeting. Fun is a moment. Fun is a rush, a wonderful, great rush, but it's a feeling. You can't turn fun on and off. It's not a thing. It holds no intrinsic value.

You can pursue fun with everything you've got, and you know what you've got at the end of the day? A feeling of emptiness. Have you ever seen kids get a little depressed after Christmas? Bored after all that "fun"? Ever hear yourself say to a daughter or son, "How can you be bored, with all the new toys you got for Christmas!" How about, as adults, those "fun" one-night stands? Exhilarating, exciting, and fun (usually). How do we usually feel in the morning?

Empty.

Once fun is done, it's done. There's nothing left except empty. And the more you try to pursue fun, the harder it will be to get, and the more difficult it will be to hold on to it.

But if we work hard, if we give our all, and if we strive for a rewarding experience (allowing for tears and decidedly not-fun moments); if we strive for fulfillment of our potential and destiny, then those moments of fun will happen much more often.

And when the fun moment passes, we have an incredible feeling of pride, accomplishment, and fulfillment. It's not only rewarding, but it's a way, way, way better feeling than "fun."

It was once argued, and I pretty much believe it, that the downfall of a society comes when said society becomes obsessed with self-pleasure and self-gratification. Let's teach our kids rewarding, not fun. Let's teach them the feelings of pride, fulfillment, and accomplishment. Let's teach them the joy of quality and excellence and virtue.

While we're at it, we can remind ourselves, and save our society!

3 bonus scribbles:

StarvingWriteNow 11/28/2006 12:35:00 PM  

I agree that "fun" has become so overused that it is essentially meaningless.

So what drives you batty about teaching? Teaching is actually one of my hot issues as well--mainly because of people who have never stood in front of a class but feel they "know it all" and can pontificate for hours over how "easy" teachers have it.

Hope you have fun at Punderson on Saturday; I can't make it unfortunately. But I'll be back around in January!

spyscribbler 11/28/2006 12:56:00 PM  

That's exactly what bothers me. And the fact that we're supposed to be thankful for the opportunity to 'touch children's lives.'

Yes, it's great, but the romanticizing of it just drives me crazy. It's hard work.

My stepbrother insists that he knows all about it because he taught a college course once. Ohmigod, teaching college kids has nothing to do with teaching younger kids, and dealing with parents!

I'll miss you on Saturday! I'll look forward to seeing you in January!

writtenwyrdd 11/28/2006 04:54:00 PM  

I got a degree in English and a minor in Education and ran screaming with my hair on fire at the prospect of--gasp!--actually teaching the little darlings. I gave up at the word Go. Horror. Teachers are awesome, especially the inner city ones.

As far as the word 'fun' goes, I use that word in relation to writing, as well. I always say you shouldn't write if it isn't...fun. But what I mean by 'fun' in this circumstance is that creative space where time slips away, the right brain space.

Fun really is a confusing and rather flat word these days, though.