The Anxiety to Be Productive

Think about it. Every moment you’re alive, you could be doing something excited, innovative, expressive, emotionally-rewarding, or anything else fulfilling. If you scan the news, especially news of celebrities, you find that Jesse Eisenberg is acting in a handful of movies and publishing stories and a newly released book, Bream Gives Me Hiccups. James Franco, the pretentious and pseudo-literary wunderkid who teaches at universities, acts, directors, and produces films (and does othershit), is constantly squeezing out new material that pops up on Amazon and other retailers. Recently, he’s dumped a few chapbooks (poetry) and is working on a screenplay adaptation of his own eye-roll-worthy collection of stories.

I could go on and on about these successful people who seem to jump from one success to another. It is daunting to see these people rolling in success and spewing out works at an outstanding pace. It’s especially daunting when you compare celebrity to celebrity, because it then seems like this is the norm: movies, plays, books, one-(wo)man shows, etc.

In reality, there’s just too much shit that exists. Countries, peoples, languages, academic subjects, entertainment, and so on. Even within writing, you have a plethora of options. Screenwriting, TV-writing, novel, poetry, short story, blogging, and others. As a teacher, I’m hard pressed for time, but I try to write every day. As of today, I’ve written two novels, and I’m nearly finished with the first draft of a collection of stories, entitled Mind the Gap. Yet, I feel the constant burden of being underproductive. A sense of failure and underperformance hovers over me like a malicious rain cloud. Yet, is this a reasonable feeling? Is it worth the stress and anxiety? For the last year, I’ve been spending hours upon hours reading and researching and writing and editing and attending conferences. Yet, Jesse Eisenberg got a book published. James Franco has several published, despite the negative reviews and laughable poetry.

It’s hard to tell if I should blame myself for the stress and anxiety I put on my self, or if I’m relying too much of an idea of success that is no more real that a Hollywood movie with talking robots that morph into cars and cause explosions all over the landscape.

IN any given day, you have a set numbers of productive hours. Experts say that once you hit fifty, the hours after that are pretty much lost. You’re better off just stopping at that point. Yet, every week, I find myself going well over those fifty hours. Between school, writing, sports (basketball, flag football), reading, maintaining (somewhat of) a social life with my significant other, it’s damn hard to keep sanity. When the hours disappear and at the end of the week, I haven’t completed my goals, it’s frustrating. And that frustrating builds over the weekend as I frantically try to achieve my goals, which may be skewed to begin with because of the unrealistic and illusory expectations set by these artists and actors who have a team of editors and collaborators and life-managers to help them succeed.

Really, what might be best for those like me is a simple retreat from the skin-deep accomplishments of those we admire. I have a novel coming out at some point in 2016. I wrote the novel in 2014-2015. I don’t know how successful it will be, if at all, but at least it’s a step. It’s a feel good moment. But then I glance at the others. Then the sense of accomplishment is completely gone. And ten or twenty years ago, this probably wouldn’t have been as big of an issue. There was less bombarding the American people.

I’d like to buy a cabin in the woods. Minimal living. There, perhaps, I’d be able to ignore the successes of famous people, such as Jesse Eisenberg (whose book I am currently reading and enjoying, for the most part). Afterall, in the Acknowledgements part of his book, his thanks his three agents. 

I don’t even have one.

By the way, cabins in the middle of nowhere aren’t too pricey.

In short, ignore all that noise. I’m mostly talking to myself here, but who cares about Franco’s diarrhea-d out chapbooks? People are reading it because he was in one of the Spidermans and he’s good at playing a stoner in that stoner movie with other stoner guy who looks like he’s always got a dip in.

Looks like a dip is in his bottom dip, always.

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The Anxiety to Be Productive

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