I am undone.

Deciding to write a novel, I set myself the goal of putting words down on paper. At least 500 words a day. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s reasonable, given time and given the limited ability of my hands to type for long periods. So I’d get up in the morning, and make myself the wonderful treat of freshly ground French roast coffee. I’d sit down with the keyboard, or notebook, and look at the blank page in front of me. A few words might come. Feeling blocked, I’d read what I wrote the day before, out loud, enjoying my coffee. I’d struggle to get a sentence or two down. And then these thoughts would start intruding.

I’d see an image of my dresser in my mind. The dresser whose drawers barely open because they are stuffed with clothes, receipts, books, bags, belts, socks, gifts I bought for Christmas that I forgot about, empty film canisters, buttons, probably even a battery or two. The dresser I don’t even use because it’s full of stuff, and I don’t remember what stuff is in there, and whatever it is, I’m not planning to wear it anytime soon.

As I try to focus on writing, the dresser becomes something I should urgently do something about. Really, how am I expected to write, be in the flow, when there is junk piling up around me? Perhaps it’s time I sorted the closet. Or washed the kitchen floor.

Now these are all agreeable things. I suppose. Things that should be done, so that we can actually move through the house and perhaps even find things when we want them. If we can remember we have them.

But I cheerfully and thoroughly ignore these things all the time. They only enter my conscious when I am seeking some errant bit of stuff that I know I have somewhere in this house, damn it. Or perhaps when I’m fantasizing about getting organized.

So why do they decide to jump up and demand attention when I’m busy trying to pull something from thin air and shape it into bookly form?

How easily I am distracted by from my purpose. Things that I haven’t done and should do intrude when I’m attempting to be creative. Or, things that I shouldn’t be doing because they have no purpose start to take up my time. Like checking my email, or Facebook, or Twittering, or playing computer games.

Indeed. I look objectively at the time wasting and energy absorbing non-productive things that I seem to do, and shake my head at myself. Where is the fulfillment in passively participating? Not that it isn’t good to be the consumer of art, theatre, books, music, nature. But when our consumption is a way of not being present, a way of avoiding the doing, then I would suppose it to be unhealthy. And perhaps a way of sabotaging success.

So, haunted by the things that are undone, I play cards. Attempting to create something, I am distracted by other responsibilities I normally could care less about.

Seems to me if I could harness the energy I put into guilt, procrastination, passive participation in useless activity, and obsessively checking my email… I might actually write my 500 words, or more, easily. I might actually set aside an afternoon and sort out the dresser. Or mop the kitchen floor. But I’m not sure about the closet. If I went in there to tidy up, who knows what might happen. I’d be buried under debris, unable to move. For hours. With nothing to do. Then I’d probably come up with some great ideas for the book. Hope I can find a pen.

1 comment:

Robert said...

I suggest taping a pen to the inside of the closet door. Yanno - just in case.