Many of us are running around like a one-legged man at an @$$-kicking contest. Writers juggle a lot of things at the same time—day jobs, family, laundry, dishes, finances, family, sickness, loss, and THEN there is the actual WRITING. I’ve come to understand that most of us writers live in two opposing states of being:
The State of I SO ROCK Narcissism and The State of I Don’t Deserve to LIVE, What the Hell Was I THINKING?
We write a few pages and think: “OMG, this is AWESOME.”
Next Day: I suck *hangs head*. Where is that brochure for dental hygienist school?
We revise and revise trying to make our work perfect. Whether it’s a book, parenting, or doing bills many of us hold ourselves up to impossible standards. We just about get the house clean and then…the family comes home. Just finish the dishes and…time to start dinner. AHHHHGGGGGG!
We wonder if it’s illegal to cryogenically freeze our spouse, kids and pets so we could have JUST ONE DAY that everything stayed CLEAN. Can we stop time and bask in loving what we just wrote? Didn’t we just DO laundry? Is that ketchup stain we ignored in the refrigerator trying to open a portal to a demonic realm?
As a recovering perfectionist, I’m here to “scientifically” prove why we all need to lighten the hell up. How am I going to do this? Using tinfoil, swizzle sticks, glitter and the Three
Four? Laws of Thermodynamics. And every reader who is a real scientist can just chillax.
This is “science.” Don’t argue.
(All “actual” laws contributed via Wikipedia)
Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics
If two systems are in thermal equilibrium with a third system, they must be in thermal equilibrium with each other. This law helps define the notion of temperature.
Zeroth Law means that temperature/energy will always seek a way to equal out. Two hot bodies (steaming EPIC tamales) placed next to ICE COLD margarita long enough? Margarita will suck heat and cool off tamales….leaving tamales too tired to finish revisions.
Life Application: This is empirical “proof” that yes, we parents were correct. Toddlers do drain energy. This also “proves” that children, as they get bigger, drain even MORE energy. Think how fast a 98 oz. margarita would chill your tamales (being “Tamale Mom” and “Tamale Dad”) and this explains why teenagers drain energy faster…unless the
98 oz margarita teenager wants to date or wear too much makeup and that will temporarily heat the tamales parents.
Also, the hotter the WIP and the tougher the editor, the more we the writer will want a margarita. Told you! SCIENCE 😀 .
But don’t get too excited, there are three more “laws.”
The First Law of Thermodynamics
Because energy is conserved, the internal energy of a system changes as heat flows in or out of it. Equivalently, machines that violate the first law (perpetual motion machines) are impossible. Heat is the flow of thermal energy from one object to another.
Did you catch that? Okay, so maybe it was the only part of this I understood. Perpetual motion machines are IMPOSSIBLE. Gee, I wish I would have learned this last Thursday. Okay, Thursday of somewhere in 1992. We can’t do it all. Heat is synonymous with energy and as we expend energy, we um—Aw crap, hold on *finds Thesaurus function for another word for “expends”*—oh, there it is. WE LOSE IT. WE LOSE ENERGY and cannot run on Red Bull forever.
Life Application: Apparently, despite what the world wants to tell us, we are incapable of doing everything forever. Yes, there are gizmos, gadgets and apps that “promise” us we can have six-pack abs, a refrigerator that doesn’t make us shriek little a little girl when we reach into the vegetable drawer, and write a perfect book in two weeks. But physics proves they are LYING.
Next time someone complains you are taking a nap, tell them physics has proven you need one.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
The entropy of any isolated system cannot decrease. Such systems spontaneously evolve towards thermodynamic equilibrium — the state of maximum entropy of the system. Equivalently, machines that violate the second law (perpetual motion machines) are impossible.
In English? Everything is hurdling toward chaos. If you have kids, a closet, a heartbeat, you have a lot of experience with entropy. It’s impossible to isolate any system. I’ve tried! Banning the toddler from walking across my freshly mopped floor only attracts a cat to puke on freshly mopped floor.
This means….we need to just suck it up and expect some imperfection.
Life Application: This also goes for our art/craft. It is called a creative PROCESS. Sure, we can write the “perfect book”….if we are stranded on a desert island and somehow found a way to power up our computers using coconuts (Heck, they did that on Gilligan’s Island). The problem is that this perfect book is likely something we want to sell and make a living off of. Which—DANG IT—requires other people part money and time to buy it and read it and love it.
Problem is, readers can’t be sealed away (legally—I know, I checked) and thus tastes, preferences, ideas, passions are ever-shifting.
My advice? Give up on a perfect book and settle for a finished one. Finished books DO exist, perfect ones do NOT.
Also, again, notice the reiteration that a perpetual motion machine is impossible because it violates this Second Law. So take that nap. You’ll thank me later.
Third Law of Thermodynamics
The entropy of any pure substance in thermodynamic equilibrium approaches zero as the temperature approaches zero. The entropy of a system at absolute zero is typically zero, and in all cases is determined only by the number of different ground states it has.
We can never cool anything to the true point of Absolute Zero (no energy), only get close enough for government work.
Life Application: Do NOT freeze your family. I triple-checked and yes, it IS illegal and your house will still be a mess so it isn’t worth the legal bill.
Freeze some ice cream or a daiquiri instead.
Don’t y’all feel smarter already? I really wish I’d paid more attention in high school.
As we all collectively learn to give ourselves a bit of slack, we can know that science has our backs (unless you are Pluto and then you got screwed). Enjoy your family, your writing, your friends and life and just roll with it. Embrace the imperfections and laugh. Laughter increases energy and warms up the “bodies” around you, staving off entropy for at least a little bit 😉 .
Throw a PARTY!
Speaking of a lot of energetic bodies together in ONE space, I am finishing this post out to invite ALL of you to come and celebrate my 40th birthday with me this Sunday (even though my birthday was a week ago, but entropy tried to kill me so the party was moved).
It is a virtual party in one of our WANA International classrooms, and, if the WANACon after-parties are any indication of how fun this will be?
We might very well break the Internet.
But most of the people I love and care about are on-line. Since
kidnapping air-fare for people all over the world is more expensive than the legal bills after freezing one’s family, my attorney has advised me that a virtual birthday party is the best option.
THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 6th from 6:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Central Standard Time (or 7-9 NYC time) we are having an 80s themed party. So bring your sky-high bangs, and favorite A-Ha videos. Also, for the moms who have accidentally worn their bra on the outside of their clothes, remember, Madonna did it, so now you are “fashionable.”
To attend this party, go to the WANA International home page at the time of the party (we will open the room 15 minutes early for those who wish to spike the digital punch). Off to the right, you will see the WORDS Big Blue Button. There is a selector. Choose the room named “Birthday Party” and the password is “Big80s”.
What are your thoughts? Feel better now that physics has “proven” you can relax a little? Do you find yourself swinging between GOD-LIKE CONFIDENCE and wondering why you wanted to write?
What are some of your favorite 80s memories? Songs? Fashions? I always wanted a SWATCH, but we were too poor. Favorite 80s movie? Best love songs of the 80s?
Are you an 80s kid and wonder how the heck you SURVIVED? We drank out of hoses, played on playgrounds made of INDUSTRIAL STEEL, and streetlights were our curfew. How any of you are even around to attend my party is frankly…amazing. And if no one shows, I will assume you likely died in a Slip-and-Slide accident when you were eight.
Will announce winner for March next post.
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of APRIL, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
For a LONG-TERM plan for a fit, healthy platform, please check out my latest book Rise of the Machines–Human Authors in a Digital World.