Writers are plagued with an array of hurdles that keep them from getting words on a page. Some struggle mightily with writer’s block. I am lucky in that this is a rare goblin in my life; I can generally write about anything. As long as I can find my way to the page. There is time management. This is a bête noire I know too well. It is a problem for women writers, especially. No one ever expected William Faulkner to step away from the typewriter to make dinner.
But in my life, the worst succubus of all is Procrastination. It’s not what you think. I’m not dilly-dallying. Orputtering. Or loafing about. No, my day is chock full of things I’ve done. My to-do lists are checked. I am a woman of many irons and they are all in the fire. I am pulled in a dozen different directions, but on the whole I manage to accomplish most of what I set out to do in a day.
Except the writing. (And sometimes the laundry.)
Writing is supposed to be the most important thing in my life. It is my damnation, and my grace. I only spent the first 25 years of my life trying Not to Be a Writer, and writing all the while. I was going to be a ballerina! An equestrienne! An actress, a director, a broadcast journalist, a photojournalist, a filmmaker, a performance artist. Okay, maybe a poet. Dammit. Finally it doesn’t matter what you choose, sometimes you are simply chosen,
I have accepted this yoke, and I have made it my own. So why does writing come absolutely last in my list of priorities? Am I crazy?
One of my dearest friends is an architect. Every time he sits down to draw he suddenly has an acute need to organize his sock drawer. Sometimes we call each other on the phone and talk for an hour so as to slide ever closer to the looming deadline while not accomplishing a damn thing.
What I did today:
A lengthy and enjoyable half hour on the phone with a good friend about a mutual project.
I had a granola bar for breakfast.
Read an essay online about a study in Europe that suggests that dogs don’t like their owners as much as we think they do. Wonder why every “expert” who conducts a study on dogs seems to know nothing about dogs and understands them even less. Make some notes for a follow up essay of my own.
Return a phone call from the Physiatry office to reschedule, yet again, my EMG test to have a look at my wonky ulnar nerve. Okay, April 6th then.
Check on some items I’ve been watching on eBay.
Then a surprising phone call from a friend who just learned she’s being sued for $25,000 by a crazy woman. Did I know any attorneys? I said I’d do some asking and call her back.
Drove gently to the gas station to put fuel in the car, because Dear Husband left it with enough to go six miles.
Had a meeting at a firm about a copy-writing assignment for a brochure. The man who owns the firm is a friend and I told him about my Lenten project to write every day. He asked me if it wouldn’t be better to be writing for money, and I agreed it would, but confessed I was again so out of the habit of writing that I was desperate for anything to make it second nature again.
Took some notes about the brochure he needs and then got into a discussion about an officer-involved shooting that has some labyrinthian details unknown to the public. My ears perk up. These kinds of stories make my fingers itch. In a good way.
Gathering up my notes, I asked if he could recommend an attorney for my friend. He could.
Drove home because I’d forgotten the check I needed to deposit. Spent some time petting Snippy, the semi-feral cat who hangs out in the garden. He’s been on walkabout for a few weeks, and I am relieved to see him.
Go to the kitchen, call MK to give her the name of the attorney. Make a date to meet her for lunch.
Find the coupon for the car wash and go back to the car. Oh damn, the check. Go back to the house and get the check.
Go to the nearest bank drive-through. Try to deposit the check. Every time I press the button for “Deposit Check” the screen says “Your transaction is complete. Would you like another transaction?” Give up, and drive to the ATM a mile away. Deposit the check, take out some cash.
Make the last half-hour of an estate sale. It’s a peculiar sale, full of dolls and teddy bears– but not peculiar because of that. Strange because the owner, not at all deceased, wanders among us. I buy an amber necklace for two dollars. I always feel a little guilty when I find the thing they missed, but I guess that’s why I go.
Drive to the car wash. There’s a huge line. Decide to call my family doctor to make an appointment while I’m waiting in the line. They put me on hold. Of course they answer the phone at the exact time that the girl comes to get the ticket for the car wash. She can’t get the coupon to scan, but takes it anyway and scrawls a hieroglyphic on the windshield. My appointment is for 8:45 a.m. on the 27th. I remind the phone to remind me. We’ll see if she does.
Meander down a nearby road to have a look-see at a house my friend thought she might consider. (She from the first phone call of the day.) Hmm. The road is very busy, the neighbors seem too numerous. Head back towards downtown.
Realize that I’m starving. It’s 4:30 and that granola bar was a long time ago. Go through the drive-through at Tim Horton’s. Get a chicken salad sandwich, which is very messy to eat in the car. And a maple dip donut. It’s the first donut I’ve had in two months. Delicious. When I roll up the rim on my coffee cup, I discover I’ve won another cup of coffee. Yay, me.
Arrive, still picking bits of lettuce off my jacket, at my favorite thrift shop. Wander around for 90 minutes. Find two Calphalon pots and a silk ottoman. And a stack of books, including a self-published book on a murder in Troy, Ohio. Call my husband from the parking lot, and employ “Face Time” to have a conversation with him assuming the role of my side-kick, Señor Pinchy.
My husband is laughing.
When I get home, he comes out the car to help me bring in the books and the pots and the silk ottoman. My teenaged son would like to have a ride to his friend’s house. Fine, but we feed the dogs first.
After we drop off our son, we cruise down Main Street, looking at all the remarkable architecture Dayton has to offer, in various states from abject neglect to carefully maintained. We keep driving until we are far on the other side of town. I think we might stop in somewhere for coffee and some kind of dessert to share.
First we go to Ollie’s, a strange place of cast-offs and buy-outs and insurance losses. There are a couple of books I’d like and a bag of dark chocolate miniature Toblerone. Thank God dark chocolate is essential to our health. Of course we have to look at everything in the place: air conditioners marked “GNTW” (Guaranteed Not to Work) reading glasses, toys, books, gardening implements, pet supplies, blankets, baking pans, a whole stack of Paula Deen cookware, carpets, auto supplies, gourmet potato chips and off-season coffee. (Pumpkin, Gingerbread, Vanilla Cookie.)
We’re close to a big box hardware store and my husband just wants to check for . . . . That takes an hour.
The tire seems low, he thinks, so we stop at a gas station to add air. His favorite hamburger place is right over there, so of course we go. I had the most modest hamburger on the menu. I still have indigestion.
On the way home I get a text from a woman in Cincinnati about two dogs lost in my neighborhood; a Boston Terrier named Opie and a Frenchie name Lorelei. We head over to that neighborhood and drive around slowly in the dark. I figure they’re bedded down for the night.
When we get home, I make a large bowl of vegetables to eat. I have just enough time to send the dogs’ owner a reassuring note and to tell her that I will be out in the morning with our own Boston terrier (a foster failure) to search some more.
Oh, and I read a story in the Daily Mail about ghost hamlets in Spain that can be bought for fifty thousand pounds.
Then it is time to go pick up our son again, as he has work in the morning. On our way to get him and on our way home, we make a detour to search again for the lost dogs. Then we are back at home and oh, there’s Snippy again, stop to pet him.
All the dogs go out for one last whizz. My son goes off to bed. My husband looks at lawn-mower batteries online and wants me to stop and look up the numbers of those that we saw in the big box hardware store, but I plead with him to let it go ’till morning, and he says okay.
It’s 2:21 a.m.
What I didn’t do today: write.
There must be a way to put the writing first. If I want it to be so, surely I can make it that way. But even when my day is not filled with other stuff, somehow I manage to leave writing to the very end, and sometimes there’s just not enough left of me to get to it.
This has got to change.