To be a writer, write. Butt in chair. Shitty first drafts. (Thank you Anne Lamott.) I’ve heard or read all the advice and yet, though I spend much of my day with my butt in my chair, what writing I do ends up as a tweet or an email, not paragraphs and pages toward my dreamed-of creative pursuit.
“How’s your writing coming?” is the oft-asked question by well-meaning acquaintances who I now deeply regret telling of my hope to tell a story of a kick-ass woman from medieval times. And, though I love research, I can’t even blame my lack of progress on too much of that. No, I let time escape by other means, despite purchasing a variety of planners all promising to help me manage that elusive construct humans have created to give a pretense of structure to our lives.
Yesterday it was the holiday cards I had to get ordered if they were to arrive before the holiday was over. And it’s true, I did need to get them ordered if I was to send my usual multi-photo, narrated card. And the website I used last year used up way too much time by creating seemingly limitless obstacles to what should be a simple task of uploading the photos I’d already placed in a Christmas card album on iPhoto. It should have been easy, but the website kept reloading and my slowly loaded photos somehow kept disappearing and I was determined not to give up because it was the only site that I could find that allowed Christmas card booklets — yes, booklets — to give me room for all 50 of my must-have 2017 photos with plenty of space for sharing the story of our year.
Alas, and kudos to me for finally admitting defeat (admittedly difficult for me) and going to another, Wirecutter-recommended site for a 12-photo card that, praise the Lord, uploaded my edited list of photos quickly and without technical difficulties. (SimplytoImpress online holiday card site). And even though it also was intuitive in loading my Word address list from last year, I needlessly complicated matters by an inefficient method of attempting to confirm addresses that wasted at least another hour. Finally, my cards were complete and off to the printer, but my day was also near its end, without one word of writing on my much-discussed novel being written yet again. I had Christmas cards, and two trips to the grocery story completed and my dog walked multiple times and a delicious home-made roasted tomato soup made, and I could give up-to-the-minute updates on the spread of the Lilac fire in North County even though for the first time since I’ve lived in San Diego the fire posed no threat to my house or home, but another day ended without writing more than the paragraph on the back of my Christmas card.
And yet I could justify my day. After all, it’s nice to keep in touch with folks via holiday cards and I have four children whose photos need to appear equally in the end product and way too many photos — most dimly lit or unflattering or in need of cropping or other adjustments — to comb through to find just the right ones to tell the story of 2017 at our home, and I needed to ensure the addresses were correct, didn’t I? And homemade soup is good for me, as are long walks with my dog. But none of that is getting any of my writing done, and therein lies the problem. Whether of not the way I spent my time can be justified, it is without question that I did not prioritize my writing so that it, too, got done.
So today I will at least write on this long-ignored blog a post that helps me try to make sense of how it is that I am not pursuing what I believe is my passion. Why I am choosing to waste precious time despite knowing how valuable it is and how quickly it passes. How it is that I can keep buying planners and even sometimes writing my goals and “to do” lists in them and yet not doing what I’ve listed to do, ignoring the goals I set for myself, disappointing myself over and over and over again. Maybe putting it out there will help me come to grips with whatever it is that ails me, that keeps me from fulfilling my commitments.
I want to live audaciously, bravely, big. Yet I’m constrained by the rules that no longer serve me, by the good girl perfectionist I taught myself to be so long ago that it’s all my cells remember, it’s all my brain can recall. It’s a prison I created to give myself worth and it’s damn hard to knock down. Especially when it’s hard to argue with being good being a good thing. Being nice seems, well, nice. And there is nothing wrong with being good or nice but I sense that I need to be more than that to reach into my creative soul that I’ve constrained for so long and free it to be more than the small person afraid to take up space I’ve occupied for so long that it’s become me and I don’t know how to be the person I long to be. Another day has been given to me, and it’s not yet over, so let’s see how this one ends. One thing for sure, I’ve done SOME writing, and that’s a start at least!