Tag Archives: procrastinating

The Dawdle

She wanted to write a story, so she sat down at her desk to do just that.

“I can’t possibly write without the right tools,” she thought, although she had an entire desk full of pens and pencils. (Just not the right ones.)

So she loaded up her car and her cash and went to the store to buy pens and pencils and new-and-improved ink that were just right for this story and special paper made in the tradition of ancient Egyptian papyrus which wasn’t particularly relevant to her story but the thought of which appealed to her mightily. These things she took home and, just to test them out, wrote her grocery list upon them, and they were as lovely as she had hoped. So she sat down to write.

But the temperature in the room was a little bit stuffy.

“I can’t possibly write in these conditions,” she said. “What if I begin to sweat? And the sweat drips upon the paper and the ink, so carefully picked out and perfect for my purpose, smears, leaving what I’ve written unreadable?”

So she got up to adjust the thermostat. As she did, she happened to glance out the window and see the weather. Delightful! Sunny and breezy and oh-so-inviting.

“Actually,” she said, “It would be such a treat to sit outside, surrounded by nature, to feel the breeze upon my skin and the sun upon my face. Such things would surely bring me even greater inspiration and make my story that much more perfect.”

So she gathered her belongings, her new pens and perfect paper, went to the front porch, and there sat down to write her story. But as she sat, she found that the outside was not at all like the comforts of her writing desk, and was perhaps not suited to the task at all. There was no place to rest her special paper except for her lap, which she felt was not the most conducive position for writing, and her pens, when they were not in use (which was often), tended to roll off her leg and clatter upon the woodwork with a noise not at all restive to her ears.

For that matter, come to think of it, while the sun did feel nice at first, it made her uncomfortable after a time, and she found herself wishing for shade. The breeze, when it blew, alleviated this, but also whisked her pages away, so that she had to chase them into the yard and down the street.

Also, there were bugs, which were not especially helpful to her practice. So she went back inside.

As she sat back down at her comfy, perfect desk, though, she made another unhappy discovery: the thermostat, previously adjusted, had cooled the room rather too much. She adjusted it again, and was again distracted by the lovely weather outside, even though she knew it hadn’t worked out well previously.

The temperature fully suited to her creative needs, she sat down, finally, to write. But there was something else.

“What if I get thirsty?” she wondered. Truly, it would be a shame to begin her task only to be interrupted by a minor physiological annoyance. Luckily, she had an entire assortment of heated caffeinated beverages to alleviate this problem. She spent the next twenty minutes brewing the perfect cup and waiting for it to reach the perfect temperature.

At long last, it was well and truly time to write. She sat down, sipped her heated beverage.

Unfortunately, she could think of nothing to write.

“What I need,” she said to herself, “is some inspiration.”

So she set aside the story she had not yet begun to write and went in search of other stories. She started with a book she hadn’t yet finished, working her way through a few chapters. She then moved on to an old favorite film whose concepts and themes had always intrigued her. True, she’d seen it before, but a fresh viewing was sure to send up some creative sparks. Then, finally, to a TV show which she didn’t have a particular personal interest in, but she had heard good things.

Fully saturated with inspirational material, she returned to her chair. But by now, the sun had gone down.

“This will never do, the light is not quite right,” she moaned. She adjusted the lamp so that the light fell, not so much directly upon her and her work, but rather against the wall, sort of splashing down almost by accident across her desk, and this, she felt, set the right ambient mood, and she was pleased.

“Well, the light is right,” she thought, sitting down once more, “but the silence is positively unnerving.”

She turned on the radio, but the music and the lyrics soon distracted her; what she needed was the right music, so she began to search and search, curating just the right playlist to suit the ups and downs and dramatic swells for the story she was now sure to write.

The playlist was 78 hours long, which she felt might be a bit excessive, but she could always audit it later.

Everything was, now, finally, and without exception, perfect.

She sat at her desk. She drew back her sleeves. She grasped her pen. She checked her watch.

Good heavens.

Well, it had been a good effort, but it was simply too late to write tonight.

“I’ll try again tomorrow,” she said, laying her pen down on her blank pages and turning off the lamp.

Image by Voltamax at Pixabay.com.

Running from the Hard Stuff

I don’t do running posts here so much anymore. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing (probably an indifferent thing ultimately), but every time I find myself writing about running I find myself wondering how much can really be said.

It’s a run. You put one foot in front of the other until you’ve had enough or until you can’t any longer, and um… that’s pretty much it.

That said, even given the understanding (and it is my constant position) that every run is a good run, yesterday’s was a bit better than average. It’s been a long time since I had a run without any pain — ball-of-the-foot pain, ankle pain, bottom-of-the-heel pain, back-of-the-heel pain — and as a result I’ve approached every run for the past three weeks (following a month off) with a fair amount of trepidation. Fear that my feet are still jacked up and will therefore screw up the run, fear that I’ll do further damage to my feet and screw up any future runs, fear that while taking it easy to avoid exacerbating my existing injuries I’ll stumble into some other entirely new injury.

But, see, there I go, taking a thing that’s incredibly specific and realizing that it’s a lot bigger than I thought. Running in fear of injury has me going slower than ever and heading out on shorter distances than I’ve run since I got started two and a half years ago. And yes, I’ve been successful in avoiding injury that way, but I also feel as if I’m not accomplishing much, either. Rather like a tightrope walker doing practice runs on a line just a foot off the ground. Sure, they’re good for fundamentals and building confidence, but sooner or later you have to go and climb the building again, man.

With that in mind, and after a quick little jaunt on Saturday with no ill effects, I set out for a five mile stint yesterday and allowed myself to go as fast as I liked, rather than reigning myself in like I’ve done for the last three weeks. I wasn’t setting speed records or anything, but I got my pace under ten minutes per mile, which is about a full minute per mile ahead of my pace on any other run I’ve had of late, and about the fastest I’ve gone since all my injuries started. Five miles later, the feet are tight and sore, but not showing any pangs of injury, and here a day later, they’re still showing all clear. That’s room for hope that my injuries may finally be on the ropes.

But where was I? Right. Jumping to conclusions and making metaphors out of molehills. Because I wonder if, not unlike the way I’ve been babying my injury of late, I’ve not been babying my edit of late as well. Shying away from the hard work. Giving myself overlarge pats on the back for accomplishments that really aren’t so grand. Simply pacing back and forth on a line one foot off the ground. I tell myself that I’ve got lots of time ahead, what with the holidays coming up, to make progress on the edit, and I’ve been using that as an excuse to let the hard work at hand slide. I tell myself that I cleared a ridiculously high hurdle and earned a bit of a step back from banging my head against the wall, and now I feel my momentum slipping away. Taking the easy way out.

Back when I started the first draft of the novel, I set what I thought was an ambitious goal for finishing the thing, and I shattered it into thousands of sparkling shards, finishing almost a month ahead of schedule. Then I set a deadline for my first edit, not knowing what the process would be or whether the goal was reasonable at all, and it looks like I’m not even almost going to make that goal. Now, to be fair, the beast has shifted and changed form and whereas I thought I was facing down a steaming, stomping minotaur, I’m actually battling a winged harpy that screeches and attacks from all angles, so I’m not mad at myself for taking more time than I thought I might. Still, if I’m honest, it’s sliding on me. The Grinch’s sleigh sliding inevitably down the mountainside as he clings hopelessly to the rails.

Well, the run can often be instructive, and this weekend’s run is telling me that it’s time to stop handicapping myself, stop shying away from the thing that’s difficult and do it because it’s difficult. My feet are healed (or at least healing) and ready to carry me back to longer distances and faster paces. As for the edit, I think I’ve enjoyed my tiny victory enough; it’s time to face the harpy and buckle back down to work.

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