The motivations and pressures underlying the Seed project (and thus, Starfighter X) remain. But I am floundering again. I have some possible insight into this.
I’ve been reading a book lately called The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, by authors who claim an impressive track record with regard to increasing performance in various workplaces. Their claims have some confluence with experiences I had during the creation of Starfighter X.
The founding idea of the book is that the modern workplace is designed around the concept of maintaining a constant level of output over time, and hitting it harder, faster, and longer, whereas in their studied opinion, humans are designed for a more rythmic approach: to spend about ninety minutes taking it to the limit, and then an hour or so recovering completely. These pulses from opposite states of maximum intensity to maximum rest, in their lights, should be applied physically, in work, in play, spiritually, and so forth.
With Starfighter X, I began work on the project after roughly three days of brainstorming, documenting, and researching, which in turn followed a six-day camping trip. The camping trip followed a pattern similar to the optimal pattern recommended in TWWWIW: naps whenever I felt like it, a predominance of social distance combined with periods of more intense social interaction, frequent mild exercise punctuated by the naps and intense fencing sessions lasting upwards of a half-hour, time with my wife…
Coming off the trip, I was in far better physical and emotional shape than usual, and in the following weeks, I continued a slowly unraveling habit of exercise (first once a day, then twice a week, then once a week, then once every other week), and I threw myself headfirst, full-speed into my work and accomplished as I have accomplished only twice in my life: When I made ‘Dozer, and when I wrote my novel.
Now that I think of it, when I wrote my novel, I was home from my first year out of town at school. I had spent two weeks touring with a choir, a day or two sleeping on a friend’s floor, and up to a week at home before getting my old job at the theater back for the summer. I spent most of my week biking too and from work from an uncle’s house, returning to the farm for the three-day weekends that the theater afforded (in return for 11-hour shifts). So exercise and a preceding rejuvenation were factors there as well.
There were other factors I wish to consider before I make my next plan of action, of course, but as a starting point, let us consider incorporating rejuvenating periods into my life-cycle. It has some Biblical precedent — Jesus took breaks in the wilderness (though they weren’t necessarily vacations… there was fasting involved), and the Bible mandates a weekly break — and if it is true that rejuvenating periods are necessary to achievement, at least for me, then even if continuous work is in-and-of-itself the nobler path, I owe it to my (potentially burgeoning) family to at least examine the functional path and discover whether the exchange is worthwhile. That is, I should weigh the possible nobility of diligence as expressed through continuous work against the known nobility of provision.
There are other factors — sleep and exercise come to mind, but for the sake of this post, let us consider repristination alone.
Perhaps it is sufficient, on the larger scale, to set aside, say, a three-day, no-contact, change-of-scenery weekend per month, and a larger rejuvenation period on, say, a tri-monthly basis. My employer, which for the sake of discussion we shall call Le Zarci, furnishes me with ten days of paid vacation (fifteen days starting next year if I’m not mistaken. Le Zarci is unfairly maligned). Three or four are needed for the annual camping trip, leaving me six to play with.
Let’s say I just take the extra day per month without pay. I think I can eat the cost at present. I will consider the camping trip as a rejuv. That gives me three remaining quarters to play with. Taking a pay-free day every month gives me a five-day quarterly break.
‘Cept I doubt that last quarter (Containing October/November/December) is liable to see a five-day approved. But we’ll save the spare time, maybe make a larger break later. A refocusing in January or February, maybe for my birthday.
The purpose of these rejuvenation is not slackage, but to refocus, to gather my energy. If I get wheels, I suspect micro-camping trips to be common.
Anyhow, I’ll talk it over with my wife, and we’ll see how it goes.
Next Part 2: Sleep, and then Exercise.