I’m sitting here, on office hours.
Office hours are a handful of hours that I spend on my laptop at a local coffeeshop, trying to take care of the little things that we need done in order to keep doing what we’re doing.
There are too many distractions to spend any reasonable length of time doing this at home. Especially now that the quarter has started and I have homework slowly stacking up on my to-do list.
Sometimes, when I’m in the middle of a project, office hours are for writing. I write at home too, but using office hours for writing ekes out a block of several hours of time every week. This is vital; I can sometimes knock out seven or eight thousand words on a project during office hours; that’s a tenth of a novel. That kind of thing adds up.
I also use office hours to see to all of the little tasks that are generated by the projects that we’re working on. You’d think, from the outside, that writing a book would be the hardest part of being an author, but it isn’t. Especially if you’re figuring out how to do it on your own. There’s a hundred tiny tasks that go into putting a book together that generally speaking require a staff of people, each with a different specialization. Marketers, designers, proofreaders, etcetera. These are all things that you have to learn, or if you’re not going to do that, like you’re interested in being traditionally published, or you plan to contract that work out, you at least have to acknowledge how all these things impact your own work.
Office hours are a kind of self-care for me. I think a lot of people don’t get that. It’s meditative time, and it’s time to start chewing away at all the little anxieties and doubts that gnaw away at me during the week. It’s time to settle down and start organizing production flows in my head, and to think of what we might be working on six or so months from now.
Having office hours lets me set these things aside during the week, relegate them to a specific time and day and environment, and that leaves me to work on other things during the week unimpeded by dread and fear. Because unlike times when I’ve put things off previously in my life, I now have a built in way to make sure they get taken care of. They don’t just go into the deep, deep hole full of things I’ve failed at.
I don’t hope for fewer office hours, as many people do; I hope that someday I can have office hours every day. All I really want to do is get people together and make things that other people will enjoy. My job and my schooling, in the long term, contribute to that by keeping me alive and in my apartment, and by helping my brain get wrinklier and smarter, but in the short term they feel a whole lot like an obstacle.
If the stuff I make is enjoyed by enough people, I can quit the job and have office hours every day, writing these little weekly missives to you, writing books, putting projects together that highlight the work of people that I respect. That is it. That is the brass ring.
The goal isn’t to not work; the goal isn’t to work for myself. The goal is to get to a point where I can work for you, full time, making interesting things for you to enjoy. That’s really all I want. I mean I also want some freedom; I have often joked with Tina that I need this so that I can have a job where I can wear jeans and say swears. Some days it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, the prospect of office hours.
It’s true that sometimes I get impatient, and sometimes the challenges we face feel hopeless, but the fact of the matter is, I have never so looked forward to coming to work as I do since I started having office hours.