Ign = 0.11
Pgn = 1.25
Bias = 0
IntDpr1N = maximum (minimum ((IntDpr1N + ErrDpr1N * Ign)), 100), 25)
PctDpr1N = maximum (minimum (((ErrDpr1N * Pgn) + IntDpr1N + Bias), 100), 25)
Damper1N = (PctDpr1N / 100)
If (AhuFlag = Off) then Goto FanOff
If DuctStatic > 1.5 then Goto DamperOpen
Damper1N = 1
ErrDpr1N, IntDpr1N and PctDpr1N = 0
Unless you work in industrial HVAC energy management, the above programming language is probably incomprehensible to you. It isn’t entirely babble to me because I’ve worked in various jobs in the industry, and have also had about 25 years of almost daily exposure to it via my guy, who does it for a living. Things like chillers, dampers and air handlers, and the computerized control of them for maximum energy efficiency, are part of my everyday life. Sometimes HVAC/energy management makes a lot more sense to me than my job does, too.
Every non-writing job I’ve had – and there have been plenty of them – has its own language, logic and life impact. When I was a bartender, I learned bar slang, how to make about two hundred different drinks, and several thousand excellent reasons never to touch alcohol again for as long as I live. The same is true of the commercial air conditioning biz: I can talk comfortably about teardowns and retubes; I understand how important the ongoing advances in interior climate control are to both quality of life and planetary responsibility, and you’ll never catch my home A/C unit with dirty coils, a clogged drain pan or running below setpoint.
Unlike most jobs, writing doesn’t come with a standard job description or a training manual everyone receives. Its language is not universal or even universally understood. Logic need not apply for a writing job; even a suggestion of logic is generally booted out the back door. The impact writing has on one’s life often stretches far beyond the boundaries of mere employment.
If I were to code my job as a writer, it would look something like this:
Wrtng = ??? (Art > $ + $ > Art) * !!! / 365 * 10 to the 10123 power
Wrtng = EndCode
My mistake was approaching writing as I had every other form of employment: work hard, give 110%, be a team player, and earn opportunities for advancement fairly. This in an industry rife with people who avoid work, take 110%, create cults instead of teams and/or step on anyone and anything to get ahead. And please, forget fair; as my colleagues have so often told me, fair is for losers.
The first couple years as a pro my energy management went out the window as I struggled to learn a language I would never speak, a logic I would never understand and withstand impacts on my life that repeatedly crushed me into the dirt. By the third year I was almost convinced I couldn’t do it anymore (and this after ten years of simply trying to land the job.)
It wasn’t until I took what I had learned from many of my other job experiences and stopped trying to apply them to the Publishing industry that a tiny light bulb went off. I couldn’t do it their way, so what was left? I needed a setpoint.
In air conditioning, the setpoint – or the temperature that is set for a space to achieve a desired level of comfort – decides everything else that happens. If your space has a setpoint of 74 degrees, and the temperature rises above that, control measures kick in and run the air conditioning units until the temperature drops back to setpoint. If your space falls below setpoint, the units cycle off and stay off until the temperature rises to setpoint. In essence, a prechosen two-digit number is what controls an entire building filled with A/C equipment. (Douglas Adams claimed that the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything was 42. In HVAC, it’s 74.)
I really got a handle on my work as a professional writer when I pursued what people in HVAC would call my personal writing setpoint. I first disconnected from and eliminated all the things that were a waste of my energy. If I didn’t need it to do my job – writing books – then out it went. Then I focused on my equipment, and invested in myself, and gave myself everything I needed to do my job to the best of my ability: the right computers, software, printers, supplies, research materials, etc. From there I made up a daily schedule that took advantage of my peak energy levels in order to produce as much as possible during a work session without burning out or exhausting myself. Once I had streamlined my writing life to be about writing, got the right equipment and put in place the best possible work schedule, I was ready to get back to work.
I didn’t ask anyone to help me create my writing setpoint or motivate me to stick to it; for years I didn’t even talk about it. Maybe it was insecurity, or too many years of listening to people trying to shove their ideas of what the writing life should be down my throat. I had no idea if it was going to work; I only knew I had to try it. Turning my back on everything I had seen being done by others on the job didn’t seem too bright, of course. But there were two almost immediate benefits that I’d never had before setpoint: I was finally comfortable with my job, and I was happy to go to work every day.
In the six years since I created my setpoint, I’ve made some adjustments to it. I’ve allowed other colleagues into my writing space to take a look around and see how it’s going for me. I’ve also shared what I’ve learned from writing to setpoint with them. They don’t always agree with the severity and austerity of my settings, but they can’t argue with my productivity or the comfort it’s provided.
With all due respect to Douglas Adams, there is no Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. Nor is there one ideal setpoint for every writer. Everything about us is unique and individual and different, and maybe that’s really why the industry is the way it is. So instead of trying to be the writer you think everyone is, or everyone else thinks you should be, find your own setpoint. Create the comfort zone that is right for you. If the quality of your writing life doesn’t improve, make adjustments until it does. Because ultimately:
Wrtng = You