As soon as the conversation started I thought, I knew this was going to happen. After mooching off my partner, Richard, for just over a month, and though I hate to admit it, pretty much taking advantage of his generosity, we had “the talk.” “The talk”, when you’re unemployed, covers your motivation to get a job, your worth without one (ex. willingness and competency at doing chores around the house), and your general deterioration of time management skills. For me, this talk concluded that I was spending too much time getting nothing done. And while I couldn’t deny my loafing bout, I argued that some of what Richard viewed as time wasted was, to me, time spent researching. I may be sitting idly at my desk jotting the occasional note, but my brain is churning. If I was getting paid, the process would still be the same, I just don’t have that luxury yet.
When discussing “the talk” with another writer, we identified an acute difference in perception of work. Richard, a fellow who views sleep as trifling, qualifies work on product – how much is done. While I find value in a completed job, I feel the process – particularly creative – is more important. All our modern innovations like computers and software have undeniably increased the speed of production. But the process inside the head of the artist still sifts, gathers and molds at the same old clip.
After an hour of frustrated comments, sighs and tears, I think we came to a conclusion that will suit for the time being: I will try to find a part-time job to help funnel my time spent at home according to both Richard’s definition of idle, and mine; he will try to remember that we move at different speeds in the production line; and we will both try to acknowledge the others' efforts.
Idle, I mean, research mode.
Afterward I spent some time researching “process versus product” and found discussions spanning from toddler development to business models to spirituality. Whether or not I self-identify with either group, I will always be curious about the specific decisions that progressed into elements of the finished product. I want to know why an author chose a particular word; what interview strategy the journalist used to question their source; and how many times the writer rewrote a sentence. Deconstructing the creative process is an enduringly fascinating journey that I find interesting and inspiring. If idle time makes the product I want, then idle I will be.