I’ve been actively avoiding anything regarding writing since
March February January December 2019. If I have sat down to get some pages down, I struggle. 5 words in, I’ll open solitare (I never win). Then, I’ll write 4 more words. Then, I’ll open some wedding dress tabs (I’m not getting married). Then, it’s time to do something else, like go the grocery store bitterly complaining that I could be home writing and then come home and sit on the bed with the cat on my phone complaining that I should be writing and why don’t I ever have time to just sit and write why is the world against me??
A few weeks ago, we moved from our beautiful, itty bitty, exposed brick, wood beam, golden hour filled one bedroom apartment, and into a beautiful little terrace house with a real kitchen, a back court yard, so many more rooms and ceiling fans and – shock – a second bedroom that we could use as a study.
i.e. I would have a place to write that would be bigger than 130cm x 75cm and that wouldn’t be parked right next to the cat’s litter box.
i.e. I could get a bigger desk. A more supportive chair. I could spread out. I could have privacy. I could have space.
i.e. And I’m not working 10 hour days anymore, so I can come home at 4:45PM and write until Joel comes home, and I don’t bring work home on the weekends anymore, so I can set aside time to write as well.
i.e. I would soon run out of excuses as to why I’m not writing.
Alas, here we are. And here I am, twiddling my thumbs and wondering what excuse I’m going to come up wiht now.
I’m tired. But I’m always tired. I was tired when I wrote my novella. I was tired when I wrote all those plays. I was tired when I was writing like crazy right after college.
I’m busy. LOL. Unless I’m on the clock for my day job, there is usually nothing I’m doing that’s so important it can’t be postponed by like 1 hour so I can work.
I’m scared. Hey – look at that, a legitimate excuse.
About 5 days after we moved in, I came home from work and decided to unpack my desk, and set it up for writing. I had to psyche myself up for it, and promise myself a special treat if I just went and worked in there for a little bit. Like, that’s how little I wanted to be involved in something that would remind me that I’m avoiding what I’m supposed to love like
it’s the plague* it’s the dentist. So I set my desk up, took heaps of “BEFORE!” and “AFTER!” pictures to post on Instagram to show how productive and awesome I’m going to be, and then I left.
And I haven’t been back until today, when I took a sick day to rest, and early this morning thought “hey I should try and write a little bit, since I’ll be home by myself.” And I put it off until 4PM.
Writing is like the big black monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey just following me around whenever I have spare time. And I am like the antsy ape standing at the base, angrily tossing bones and sticks at it, trying to shoo it away while at the same time being drawn to it, because I have a feeling it’ll do me some good, and trying to duck and hide from the horrifying guttural cries of the Swedish choral group moaning around me.
Every day after work, when I come upstairs to change (like Mr Rodgers, I change from my ‘hard pants’ into my ‘soft pants’ and from my ‘work sweater’ to my ‘house sweater’ ((which is actually a different work sweater not appearing at work this month)) and emerge from the bedroom in my true form: Potato.
And as I head back downstairs to decompress by staring into the same phone I already stared at for 60mins+ while coming home, I pass my study. There the Monolith stands. Black, so Black. To quote Nigel from Spinal Tap, It can’t get any blacker. If the question was, how much more black could this be, the answer would be: none. I can see into it, I can see into its void. It’s glinty. It looks like it would be soft and cool, like the misting aisles at summer amusement parks.
I want to go in, I want to try and touch it, but instead feel my arm go all the way through it, I want to fall in and spend hours on the computer, straining my eyes doing something I want. I want that all consuming, can’t wait to come back to this manuscript and play around some more feeling. I want to evolve into that starchild floating above the bed, but instead of staring into nothing while contemplating the complete knowledge of everything, I’d be typing on my celestial, embryotic laptop, scaring the shit out of Joel and Pancake.
But I don’t go in. I ignore it. I walk downstairs and think “eh, maybe this weekend.” Because I’m worried that I’ll see the Monolith, I’ll walk into the room, I’ll touch it, and it’s just going to be a dumb, muted black wall and I will fall, not into it, but against it, and stub my toe. And I’ll get pissy and dejected and I won’t want to come back ever again.
And I repeat this. Over and over again. And nothing changes. Not even my level of self-punishment gets worse. And the HILARIOUS part is, I’ve made this kind of entry so many times now, that it’s basically my speciality.
“Oh you’re a writer! What do you write?”
“Excessively self-defeating essays on why I don’t write, and how I’m going to really start writing this week, and oh, I put out a whole series where I say I’m going to put my progress online so people can hold me accountable — but spoiler alert, I don’t stick to it, and no one holds me accountable because I let so much time go by that the time I mention I’m going to write again, they’ve already forgotten that I wrote in the first place!”
So what’s the deal, Potato? Why are you so afraid of possibly becoming au gratin when you hoped you’d become hasselback? You’d still eat au gratin. It’s not the worst thing. Look at you go today, you sat down, completely unsure of what to write, and you’ve come up with a 2001 metaphor that makes you chuckle. That’s a good start!
Note to self: Not every session is going to be successful and on fire; somedays you will literally do nothing. Try not to hate yourself.
Note to self: Saying I will do this by this date means you will NOT do this by this date.
Note to self: Imagine what would happen if you work as hard for yourself as you do for other people.
Note to self: if you keep consistent for 7 days, you can treat yourself to one sweater you don’t need. Oh, you already bought that treat? Ok, well now you have to work it off. Debts and credits, you definitely know those inside and out.
You can do this. You can become the celestial potato that the weird alien/Jesus monolith knows you can be. And now it’s 5:30 – you did it! So now, go do some house stuff before Joel comes home. And feel good about yourself, ok?