The Itch, or Why It’s Better To Just Go Ahead and Write Something, ANYTHING

Work was a beast today. Finals time, students are panicking, banging down my door, shoving papers in my face, “HERE GRADE THIS HASTILY SCRIBBLED TWO-MONTHS-LATE ASSIGNMENT SO I CAN PASS THE CLASS.” I debated a hundred times giving the lecture: “Had you done all your work at the appropriate time instead of, perhaps, staring gobsmacked into your cell phone when you should have been paying attention in class, then maybe you would have the grade you wanted and wouldn’t feel like the ant looking at the descending boot right now.” But that’s in vain, at this point. I’ve only been saying it for months. If they haven’t learned it from me by now, it ain’t gonna sink in today. Still, I don’t have to put the grades in until Monday. So maybe I’ll let those failing grades hang over their heads for the weekend, each of them enduring their own personal Sword of Damocles.

Anyway, I didn’t meet my writing goal today. This is not the end of the world (#writerproblems are not #realproblems) but it irked. It settled into my shoe like a microscopic bit of gravel and yanked at my mind throughout the afternoon and the evening, chewing on my thoughts like a voracious little psychic were-rabbit. Wrapped up my school day. Didn’t get your writing done. Went for another delightful trail run. There’s still writing to do. Got home, made dinner. You only wrote 500 words today. There’s still time. Made the final arrangements for tomorrow night’s soccer banquet. Only 100 more to make your bare minimum goal. You can cough up 100 words sitting on the toilet if you have to. Skyped with the wife and kids. They’d love you more if you would finish your writing. Watched a bit of TV, because goldfinger it, I deserve that. Slacker. How dare you consume media when you could be CREATING media. Shut everything down and headed for bed.

Oh, that’s cute. You think I’m going to let you sleep, knowing you only have to write 100 words to shut me up?

I could be joking, but I’m not. I feel like a total and abject failure as a writer if I have the opportunity to get it done and I don’t get it done. I feel no comparable sense of shortcoming for virtually anything else in my life. Didn’t get that stack of papers graded? They’ll keep til tomorrow. Yard didn’t get mowed today? Grass’ll still be there in the morning. Pets haven’t been fed lately? They could stand to lose a few pounds. (Let’s sidebar and establish that I don’t actually starve my pets, okay? THIS IS FACETIERY, PEOPLE. And, yeah, okay, fine, facetiery isn’t a word, but dag derg it, it should be.)

So I lay in bed for twenty minutes, eyes shut, focusing on the soothing sounds of the rumbling thunderstorm simulated by the white noise machine on the bedside table (how I ever slept in my life without one of these I will never know), completely failing to fall asleep, because the voice wouldn’t shut up. 100 words. Just 100 words. 100 words and you’d be done. If you weren’t a failure, you’d write the 100 words. Come on. You’ll feel better if you write a little bit. Just a little bit. Just 100 words. Come on. COME ON. GET UP AND WRITE. DON’T BE A B–“

So I got up. But I can’t write just 100 words, so I ended up writing 300. Then I had a good idea for something that should really happen earlier in the story, so I wrote another hundred words or so of notes to myself about what I need to go back and establish at a prior juncture. Then I remembered another couple of things I wanted to have happen at this leg of the narrative, so I doubled back and added them in as well. All told, I ended up writing about 600 words in the story, to add to the 500 I wrote before, so not only did I make my goal, I took a victory lap as well.

And what’s a victory lap deserve? Another victory lap on the blarg, because now my mind is racing and won’t shut up, and I have to spin off this mental energy somewhere. So there’s another 700 words of blarg drivel before I fall asleep.

If writing is my new addiction, I think I can live with it.

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