Here is the final installment of this little series. I apologize for the delay in drafting and posting this one, but life got more than a little bit in the way. Once again, I’d like to extend my thanks to everyone who’s involved themselves in the discussion to date. For reference, and if you’d like to catch up on the various comments:
As I said before, Sunspin has caused me to completely re-engage with my own habits and practices as both a Consumer and a Producer. This series of posts has wandered pretty deeply into my experiences working on that project. Now I want to tie it back up with some thoughts, and some questions for you, who have been patient and kind enough to follow this far.
I value being a Producer very highly. It’s become a core part of my social and emotional identity. In the same vein, her mother and I have put a lot of effort in raising the_child with a sense of what it means to be a Producer (I am a writer, Mother of the Child is an artist working in several media), so that she can have this set of choices available to her as she sets her paths through life.
But being a Producer definitely comes at a cost. As discussed, if nothing else, it interferes with one’s place in life as a Consumer. For me, at least, the energy and focus come out of the same time budget, out of the same emotional and creative spaces.
Being a Consumer is also a creative act, because consuming Story requires participation and interpretation. But origination, now that’s where the holy fire is for me.
Being a Producer has also influenced my life choices with respect to social activities and how I spend my time. I’ve mentioned before that I gave up television in 1994, and gaming in 1998. Those are forms of Consumption, forms of Story, but they’re also things that would quite readily and happily eat my brain. My sense of social scheduling is influenced as well, and the ways I allocate my time on a daily basis.
None of this is to complain. I love what I do, I love being a Producer. My writing has sustained me through some very difficult times in these recent years of cancer and life turmoil. But the cost is real, both directly and in terms of opportunity cost.
The rewards are more real.
My conclusion is that this is a choice. And surely Producer and Consumer are not a crisply dualistic set of contrasting choices. Surely they are a spectrum, and everyone falls in a different place. But I find the concepts a handy tool to use when analyzing both my life and my work.
As for you… how would you define yourself? Does this idea appeal to you or put you off? When you Consume, what are your choices? If you aspire to Produce, what trade-offs do you make?
In a sense, these are the prototypical questions underlying the writerly cliches of “where do I find time to write” and “where do I find ideas to write about”.
In a sense, this is real life.
Read more. Write more. Be well.