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Instant gratification

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Instant gratification, is the bane of my online existence. I had my first experience with a computer when working for Canyonview Hospital, a psychiatric/addictions treatment facility. It was exciting to learn the ins and outs of the computer in a very limited way. I could write my notes and reports without having to dictate them, to be typed by a stenographer. That was an experience. Having to say period when finishing a sentence, add all the punctuation and at times even the spelling of words. I was able to finish my work in half the time. Freedom at the end of my fingertips.

Then, as I was getting comfortable with that, in comes the tech guy introduced me to the Internet. Scared the holy heck out of me. I knew I would break the computer if I hit the wrong and of course, the first thing that happened. The darn thing froze up on me. In a panic, I called tech support and he came back, hit a couple of keys, and just like that, I was back in business. He told me not to worry I couldn’t break it, to relax and enjoy. He also showed me what to do if it was to freeze on me again. So, exploring I did go. I was able to research things in my field and other things, print out articles to use, and just enjoy. The more I learned the more I knew that I wanted a computer at home. I justified it by the idea that I could write the next, best American novel. Isn’t that each wanna be writer’s dream?

It wasn’t long before my health brought about my retirement that I was able to buy a home computer. Compared to today’s computers it was a big clunky thing, I was also able to get a printer to go with it and subscribe to the internet. One of the first things I did was go looking for sites for writers. It was through that search I came across Coffeehause for writers. It was a site where a writing prompt was posted each day and, according to the instructions we were to do a free-write and post it in response, with no editing. I found my love. It was such fun spewing words to page in response to the daily prompt, then sending it off to be reviewed by fellow participants.

The thrill of the reviews coming back in a few minutes, for the most part, positive or with constructive criticism, had me thirsting for more. The creative juices flowed, and I looked forward each day to the post of the day. It was there I learned the thrill of instant gratification. I would catch myself, stopping to check throughout the day to see what people has said about my post that day. It was there I first met JoAnn Miller and Cathy Beil. Both were so encouraging, and both were active on the site. Jo was more into nonfiction writing, and Cathy was in the process of writing a book on the Japanese tea ceremony. It was such fun to be with like-minded people and I know I became obsessive about my daily participation. Cathy was able to finish her book, The Samurai and The Tea, A Legacy of Japan’s Early Christians. I, of course, bought and read it as soon as it was out. It was published in 2002. Cathy had posted some of her work in progress on the site and we were able to encourage as well as give her feedback on her work.

After a few years, due to internal conflict and difficulty in finding people willing to administer to the site, it closed. By then we had had some troublemakers join who were more interested in being hurtful, than helpful. I have not found a site as supporting as that one was in the beginning. To this day I think back fondly on my years there. But it is also what caused me to seek out that instant gratification when I would write something.

Sadly, our success isn’t built overnight, and that is where this pattern of instant gratification is a problem. I see it not only in my writing but in many areas of life anymore. Young children are so used to celebrating and being praised over the smallest of accomplishments they believe it will always be that way. Have you noticed that birthday celebrations are like Christmas? That moving from one grade to another is done with pomp and circumstance? We never want them to feel let down and have felt defeated it’s almost like we need a parade for every little thing. The kicker is there will be disappointments in life and if we aren’t prepared for them we will not have the tools to handle them. Heck, here I am at the age of 80 having to admit the trap I’ve fallen into, can you imagine a child growing up, having every little thing they do be celebrated like it was the most magnificent thing that ever happened, having to learn that for the most part it’s just what life expects us to do, it isn’t really a big deal. There is no ticker-tape parade for doing the job expected of us.

And for a writer, there is no such thing as overnight success. It’s all about spending time alone, doing the work, and doing your best. For many, success doesn’t happen until years after they are gone. It doesn’t mean the work isn’t good, it simply means it takes time to build a fan base. For me, it’s my job to keep practicing my chosen art. Not for the gratification, I might get from others, but because I feel the need to sit down and put words to paper. It’s not about checking every few minutes to see what someone has said about what I offered. On one hand, it has fueled my creativeness and on the other hand, it has stunted it. I forgot to keep my eye on the prize, no matter what I can feel good, because I didn’t just talk the talk, I decided at some point to walk the walk and allow others to see and read what it is that I have written.

Author: Gayle Parish

As far back as I can remember I've always loved books. I love the feel, the smell, and the way words are put together to pull me into a story. I've dreamed for years of writing a story of my own, and here at last I've done it. I hope you'll join me as I share with you some memories, hopes, dreams, exploration of a life well-lived.

4 thoughts on “Instant gratification”

  1. Another excellent bit of wisdom Gayle! And you brought back fond memories of that free writing site. You and Cathy both began your eventually published works there!

    And the best part was, it brought us together!!!


  2. Another excellent bit of wisdom Gayle! And you brought back fond memories of that free writing site. You and Cathy both began your eventually published works there!

    And the best part was, it brought us together!!!

    Liked by 1 person

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