Drudgery is a fact of life . . .

Sometimes we have to find joy in the process, not the resolution

I remember so well, back in the day, thinking about why I loved research. In so many ways it was the physical experience of planning, and then setting the experiment up, so that the waiting could begin. Anticipation and wonder were all very lovely, but it was actually the joy of asking the question that kept me going.

If I didn’t like the physical manipulations, like dissecting salivary glands out of so many mosquitoes (Anopheles stephensi don’t you know), or setting up a matrix of tiny pots from which to manipulate an array of experimental conditions into 8×12 well plates, all painstaking highly focused handwork, then what was the point? I was always a technician first, a scientist second.

Similarly, when I worked for the village hall, it was the physical jobs that kept me going: mopping the floor comes to mind especially, or serving behind a frantic bar. Hard drudgery, rewarding in and of itself.

It’s the same way now with words and keyboard, I guess. If I didn’t enjoy the feeling of tap-tap-tapping out the sentences, finding le mot juste from the dim recesses of my mind, exploring for meaning from thin air, persevering through the daily drudgery, there wouldn’t be any point in the effort. I did work conscientiously through my third novel, the fulfillment of my Biome NE47 trilogy, packaged it all up, and watched it languish. It turned out that it was the process of creating that I loved, and that was its own reward.

It’s only now, some four months after finishing that effort, that I’m beginning to look back dispassionately and to explore the themes I seemed to have been developing. It now seems to me that the whole book is about imprisonment, and the various strategies that might be adopted to cope with that situation.

Imprisonment is a concept that seems so ripe for metaphor. Perhaps even drudgery is a kind of imprisonment, but certainly when I’m ensconced in it it’s a jail cell I welcome. Otherwise why put oneself through these labours, if they’re not ‘of love?’

But if all of this is so, and clearly it is, then why oh why do I procrastinate? Putting off the joy, like avoiding my daily exercise and breathing regimens, until some nagging voice finally persuades me to begin.

It’s a mystery, for sure, but I can be grateful, at least, for the kindness that compels, over and over again, my embarkation into drudgery.

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