Appearances on this blog to the contrary, academic writing is pure torture for me. Last week on Monday, I spent seven hours actually working, and got, I think, one paragraph finished. It was miserable, frustrating, and very discouraging.
Tuesday came, and I couldn’t seem to force myself to get started, because it just meant more of the same misery. And so it went. I managed to work at least a little each day, but it wasn’t good work. And a lot of my so-called “work time” was actually spent playing solitaire.
W. says that guilt is counterproductive. She’s right, but I can sure manage to produce a whole lot of it. And when I add guilt to other anxiety and stress and frustration… well, to say that I’m not pleasant to be around is something of an understatement. So that’s where I was on Friday.
Friday evening, I finally admitted to W. that my vagueness about how my work had been going was due to my failure to do any work. I might not be a good liar, but I think both of us were willing to let things slide, because neither of us really wanted to go through with a punishment spanking.
We made a plan for Saturday. We’d do our usual morning stuff, go to yard sales with a friend, and then I would come home and work for three hours. This was W.’s diabolical method of getting me to do the work I was supposed to do, and not be able to weasel out of it by taking a punishment spanking. She said I would also get a punishment spanking, and it was my choice whether it would be before or after I did my work. I waffled, since part of me wanted to put it off for as long as possible, but the other part of me knew that I wouldn’t be able to work well with the spanking hanging over my head. I finally said I thought I should have it before, and W. agreed that it was the best plan.
Saturday came, and I was nervous. I wasn’t looking forward to the punishment, and I wanted it to be over. We went through the morning and early afternoon, but then W. realized that she’d invited the friend over for the evening as well.
Ack! This meant that I had to face three more hours of work before my spanking. I was anxious, and this only made me crankier. I managed to force myself through the work as W. and her friend played with the Nok Hockey set W. got at one of the yard sales. Finally, I was done, and finally, the friend went home.
I might not have been looking forward to the spanking, but heaven knows I wanted to get it over with. Also, in my highly trusting way, I needed her to prove once again that I could rely on her, and that she would follow through with what she had said she was going to do.
But W. didn’t mention the spanking, and so I sulked.
I already described the half-punishment spanking I got for that. Afterwards, I managed to get myself to talk. I said that I really needed her to follow through with the punishments, and that I was feeling really guilty about not getting work done, and that I needed the external structure to make it possible. We processed, like good lesbians.
W. said she needed something to make it easier for her to hold me accountable, and suggested a more detailed log of what I had done with my day. In addition to the number of hours, we agreed that I would make a note not only of what I had done, but also of how well I had used the time. W. suggested checking in about my work each day, but I wanted to spare her the stress of having to worry about it every single day, so I convinced her that once a week would be often enough.
This seemed handy, W. joked, because we had made a bet the summer before last, for which the forfeit was her giving me a (fun) spanking every week for a year. For a variety of reasons, that hadn’t actually happened, so she was looking forward to paying off her debts. (I admit, it was a total sucker bet, and I knew what the outcome would be. But she insisted I was wrong, and I took her up on it.) Anyhow, we decided that I would get either a reward or a punishment spanking each Sunday night, depending on how my work had gone the previous week.
I also asked her specifically to hold me to the part of my work schedule/rules that benefits her the most: that I have to be done with at least the minimum amount of work by four o’clock. This doesn’t say I can’t work after that, but it means that any work after that is extra. Otherwise, I have a tendency to procrastinate all morning, and I end up not getting any work done for the day.
So my diabolical wife came up with yet another evil plan. In addition to my punishment (to be delivered at some point on Sunday), I now have to get up when she gets up in the morning. This means getting up at SIX AM!! Ugh. And for this week, anyways, I have to start work by nine.
This helps me by giving me plenty of time for breakfast and reading the paper before I get started with work. But it also helps her, because she is decidedly not a morning person, and if I’m sleeping, she doesn’t turn on the light or the radio. So me getting up means that she has an easier time getting up. I don’t enjoy it, but I do like giving her that support.
The unfortunate part is that I also have to go to bed early. I’ve never liked having a bedtime, and W. has been reminding me every night that I have to come in to bed. And I have no doubt that she would enforce it if I didn’t.
So all of that is the discipline part.
On Sunday, W. came in at 9:15 to let me know that I had fifteen minutes before I needed to come to bed. This was the first night of our deal, and I admit I was rather surprised that she was following through so strictly. I came in and got into bed, and W. finished with her own preparations for bed. She hadn’t mentioned the punishment, and I was feeling just a bit cranky (‘cause I never do seem to expect her to really follow through).
She decided that I had earned both the punishment spanking we had discussed, and a reward spanking for getting my work done well on Saturday (and because I had managed to work all of the hours I was supposed to). She gave me the reward spanking first, and it was a good warm-up. While she was spanking me, she talked about how nice it would be to only give me reward spankings, and how much fun they would be.
Then she put down the various toys she had been using, and picked up the “loopy toy.” It was time for the punishment. She noted that she had spent half an hour on the reward, and was going to spend five minutes on the punishment. If I did good work all week, she pointed out, I would get at least thirty-five minutes of reward every week. The punishment spanking was hard, but she paused between the strokes, so I didn’t get too many of them.
Afterwards, she checked in about how I was feeling. I couldn’t really explain everything that was going through my head. On the one hand, I hoped that the increased structure was going to help me to work. On the other hand, the spanking hadn’t hurt, and I was concerned that it wouldn’t be effective. And it was incredibly strange to have the physical arousal from a play spanking combined with the decidedly non-aroused mental state induced by a punishment spanking.
Perhaps the jumble in my head explains why I didn’t sleep well, because I kept waking up all night. And perhaps this explains why Monday was such a wash in terms of getting work done.
To my credit, it was also just a frustrating point in the writing process. But even though I kept at it for the requisite number of hours, I didn’t work very hard.
Tuesday was pretty much the same story. Deep down, I knew I needed a “real” punishment spanking, just to clear the slate. But, oh, how I wanted to avoid it.
W. had checked in about how my day had gone before she got home. I mentioned my frustration with the work, and admitted that I hadn’t gotten much done. But then I went back to reading my email (this is after working to one level or another for six hours, and I knew I wasn’t going to get anything worthwhile done that day anyhow).
Then my study door opened, and my wife said, rather grimly, “Get in here so I can give you your spanking.”
I slowly walked into the bedroom. She asked about my day, I repeated what I had said. She asked to see my work log. When she saw that I had worked 6 hours, I could tell she wanted to back down. But then she asked me about the grade I had given myself (C = moderate focus, many breaks).
She asked what I meant by “breaks.”
I hemmed and hawed.
She specified: did I take a walk? did I read a book? did I have a snack? Or did I play solitaire.
I admitted that it was solitaire. She sighed, and told me I had to go remove solitaire from my computer. I complied, because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to avoid playing solitaire. And then I went back to the bedroom.
The loopy toy was out. I didn’t let myself beg or whine, because I know it’s just as hard for her as it is for me. And, honestly, much as I wanted to weasel my way out of it, I had more than earned the punishment I was about to get.
This time, she hit me like she meant it. Two days later, my bottom is still sore. When I twisted away from her, she paused long enough to hold me in position, and started again. She stopped at one point, because she realized that she had broken the skin. She made it clear that she didn’t like the necessity, but she was going to continue with the spanking anyways She spanked me with her hand for a while, and then went back to the loopy toy.
Afterwards, W. explained that she really does not like giving me punishment spankings, but for as long as they work, she is going to do it.
And then she said she didn’t think a weekly check-in was going to work. We have to check in every single night about what I’ve done, and if I’ve earned a punishment spanking, I’ll get it right then.
I’m very grateful to W. for taking up this disciplinary role, for a lot of reasons.
I know it doesn’t come naturally for her, and I know that both of us still struggle with the external meanings of what it is that we’re doing.
Somehow, having structure imposed externally, even if I pretty much created that structure myself, makes me feel safe, and makes it easier for me to hold myself to a schedule.
And spankings work much better for me as a consequence than being booted out of grad school. Because being booted out of grad school is such a big thing, and such a distant, abstract thing, that I can’t quite make myself cope with the possibility. So it just hangs there every day that I’m unable to work. And it’s such an all-or-nothing problem that either I feel like I can keep slacking off with no consequences, or else I feel so overwhelmed by the consequences that I can’t manage to work.
So here I am, both punished and disciplined. Hopefully, the two will combine to help me get through the writing-induced panic, and the procrastination-induced wastes of time. And who knows, maybe with the threat of a spanking hanging over me, I’ll actually step away from the computer and go for a walk when I need a break, and end up being in decent physical shape into the bargain.