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October 2, 2012 / benrovik

Of Diapers and Deadlines

As anticipated, I haven’t been making too much time for writing in the past week. By that metric, I’m a total slacker.

I have, however, changed a great many diapers; more so by far in the past week (6-8 per day) than in the previous several decades (0 per decade). If the standard for a productive life is the number of diapers you change, then in fact I’m only now beginning to make up for years and years of complete idleness.

Let’s delve into this more closely. (Wife and baby are asleep, and I find myself with nothing better to do.) Am I more productive now as a professional diaperer than I was when writing full-steam last winter, in the period of finishing up The Mask And The Master?

My goal then was to write 1,000 words per day. Daily average in Nov and Dec, when I started compulsively keeping track of such things, actually worked out to 1,094. *fist pump* Lots of words! Pretty fancy, right?

But all the hundreds of hours that went into writing (to say nothing of proofing, working with editors, and the self-publishing rigamarole) yielded one thing: a single ebook. It’s a good ebook, and people enjoy it, but it was also a pretty big investment to get to the payoff of having it done. And the act of doing it was really satisfying, but really solitary. If I hadn’t gone on to publish it, no one in the world would have realized any benefit.

Fast forward to now. My goal now is to change the baby’s diaper, say, 7 times a day. How ambitious is that goal relative to my 1,000 word target? Well:

A picture is worth a thousand words
The diapers are the opposite of “pretty as a picture”
THEREFORE each diaper is -1,000 words

Hmm! *sucks on Sherlock Holmes pipe* A provocative proof! Doing diapers is, in fact, the OPPOSITE of being productive!

There’s a little truth to that, I suppose. When I was writing, I was the content producer. Now my daughter is the content producer (diapers are her medium), and I’m purely a distributor. (specifically, I distribute her content to the trash truck every Monday morning.)

But there’s productivity in doing something besides producing content. If all of us just produced content and sat on it, it would be like me writing my books and keeping them locked on my hard drive for no one to see. It would be like my daughter filling that diaper and, well, sitting on it.

Making sure content gets into the pipeline is just as important as creating the content in the first place. (Especially so in the case of the baby’s content, ’cause there’s no way that stuff’s sitting in the house any longer than it has to.)

So the content of the diapers isn’t as lasting as the ebook will be. Some art is ephemeral like that. And the time investment for her to fill a diaper and me to change it is nil. In the time it would take me to write the next installment of Mechanized Wizardry (say, 120 writing days), my daughter and I could fill and change 840 diapers. 840 to 1! That’s pretty impressive. (and stinky.)

And, ultimately, I have to consider the impact I’m having on the audience as I figure out how to use my time. Fans of Mechanized Wizardry will feel mild disappointment the longer it takes between new releases in the series. If my daughter’s content isn’t delivered to the proper distribution channels promptly, the negative repercussions may be localized, but I assure you that they don’t bear risking.

So I can feel good about myself for keeping this wonderful little human hygienic, even as Ben Rovik Books takes a back seat for a time. And when she flaps and gurgles and sleeps peacefully, with a clean behind, I suppose I can count that a job well done, even if it’s hard to put a number to.

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Leave a Comment
  1. stace8383 / Oct 2 2012 10:49 pm

    Had to laugh… I’ve attempted to write, and I currently attempt to parent. I relate. 😉

    • benrovik / Oct 3 2012 7:22 pm

      Thanks. Finding the balance is gonna be a perennial question from here on out, huh? Because I gather that the parenting continues even after they’re potty-trained…

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