||It's too easy to just sit at my computer all day, talk on the phone, take notes and be efficient. When you work for yourself and pay 15 percent FICA and a kajillion dollars every month to your HMO and your quarterly tax payment is almost due, which will give you just enough time to start saving for your next quarterly payment. You get the idea.
Time is money. And any time that is not clearly revenue-producing: pitching ideas, calling or emailing editors, copying and sending clips or doing research, is easily seen as "wasted." Fact is, if I don't simply play hooky once in a while, I'm wasted.
It's so tempting! The sun shines, the pool beckons, there's always something worth checking out in Loehmann's back room. Temptations abound and must, nine times out of ten, be studiously ignored in order to bring in the bacon. If you can't nail your bum to the chair and Get The Work Done, you'll never make a living working for yourself.
That said, play is still key.
(I think little kids have got the basics nailed: play, sleep, eat, repeat. They know what really matters. Like animal crackers. Anything that comes in a shiny little red paper box with a cotton strap cannot be bad. I defy you to have a truly disastrous day if animal crackers are nearby. Naps are also good.)
Play-dates are something workaholic adults need to plan for ourselves. Writers, or anyone, working alone at home in shorts and T-shirts, for whom the UPS or FedEx or Airborne Express guy is often the social highlight of our entire day, need to conceive of and plan Fun as diligently as crafting our stories and pitches. Those who work hard need to play hard. We may skip the wearying commute to work in other people's offices, but homeworkers also need to refresh, recharge, recreate.
And so, with an indulgent adult friend, I recently spent a Wednesday afternoon at Rye Playland, an Art Deco-era amusement park 30 minutes' drive from my home in suburban New York. (It's in the movie, "Big".)
I love Playland: the sticky pink clouds of cotton candy, the candied apples encased in their slick, glossy armor, the 73-year-old carousel horses with their wild glass eyes and flared nostrils and missing tails, those rip-off mechanical games where you know it's all rigged and you'll never get that little stuffed pig/bear/aardvark out of the machine but, suddenly and stupidly hopeful, you keep plugging in your dollar bills and quarters anyway.
My everyday adult anxieties - income/taxes/retirement/root canal - suddenly shrank. I had other things to worry about. What was that crumpled pile inside the house of horrors? Would the roller coaster toss my soon-to-be-lifeless body into the air? Am I going to throw up? How much louder could I possibly scream?
Because Playland is kid-sized, even its terrors are scaled down to something small and manageable. I liked this a lot. Shimmying on the groaning, creaking, ancient rides, I felt oddly safe, reality briefly held at bay somewhere far beyond the black-trimmed Deco towers at the park entrance. There are dark soothing pools of treeshade and brightly-colored wooden benches. A carousel spins so fast it takes all your grown-up leg strength not to go flying off into one of the crayon-colored wooden pillars. It all made me ridiculously happy.
Did I come up with any fresh, cool story ideas? Not really. Did I fill my Rolodex with new sources? Nope. Was it "worth it?"