Dread

This is what I wrote 15 minutes ago: I need to add Guilt as one of my main tags. I’ve procrastinated my way through this evening, and now here I am, bloated with pent-up self loathing. Maybe that’s the new tag: secret self loathing. I do not do new year’s resolutions, and yet if I have one resolution it’s to set aside 15 minutes to write each day. Blogging does Not count. 15 minutes. It sounds so doable. I guess I could close out this page and spend 15 minutes writing about how I have nothing to write. I’m an empty vessel. I’m a buoy. Floaty and hollow. I hate how angry I get with myself. Are you suggesting self acceptance might be a more productive use of my time? Don’t be so mature about it! I’ve got more self loathing to tap into: the supply is stupendous.

I will now take myself by the scruff of my neck and try to work on a story. I’m listening to Adele and I’m setting my phone’s timer. Start.

15 minutes later: That wasn’t so bad. I got some writing down. I need to counter my procrastination impulse–it is strong, like a black hole’s gravitational pull. I did some editing and wrote 400 words in 20 minutes or so, which is fine. I haven’t finished my story, but I am weaving in a new strand, developing the relationship between snow white and grumpy and how that affects grumpy and the evil queen’s relationship. This should be fun. My brain’s just not magically leaping about. I like those magical leaps. Instead I get earnest work which brings its own satisfactions, though they are a bit more quiet and shy. I’m going to see if I do better trying to write in the morning. I’ll say this for getting writing done–the phenomenal Guilt now seems ridiculous. That’s an important lesson to learn (over and over again): Stop feeling guilty, start writing.

The last five minutes

One of my greatest weaknesses is my chronic, professional grade, Impatience. It’s a family illness, I think. For me, the very hardest part of any journey is the last five minutes I have to spend on the plane, after we’ve landed and pulled up to the gate, while I wait for all the slow moving parties to deplane in the typical inefficient procession. By the time I get off the plane and out the gate, I basically run through the terminal to the nearest taxi, because the journey’s not done until I’m in my home snacking on something delicious.

I feel this exact way in the last five minute, or last 10% of any given effort, before I reach my goal.

This is my least favorite place to be emotionally and mentally–trapped in my labyrinth of eagerness/anxiety/excitement/nausea. I will name it The Corridor of Impatience. Unfortunately for my constitution, I spend a lot of time roaming the length and breadth of the Corridor.

And that’s where I am right now, in The Corridor of Impatience, until 6:45pm Thursday night, when my final paper of the semester will be due. By 9pm that night, I will be released back to civilian status until the second week in January. Oh how I long for the end of this particular journey. I’m the only one deplane-ing, but it’s still an inefficient procession, as I crawl through the final paper writing process. Wish me luck.

(P.S. Meanwhile, blogging is my release valve: forgive the narrow subject area this week.)

Refreshed!

A week’s worth of procrastination, it turns out, can have a blessed effect on my productivity. Witness my ability to crank out a paper in four 40 minute chunks over three days—that’s the direct result of serious resentment and goofing off last week. I gave myself time off–I thought it was just because I was lazy, angry, and unmotivated, but in fact, it was catharsis–I didn’t even know there could be a turnaround in my mindset, but yes, after my week in revolt, I was able to move beyond my dangerously bad attitude. It’s nice knowing that sometimes waiting and distracting yourself and being inactive and unproductive can have great results. Magical goofing off.

Root Canal

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the words Root or Canal, the same way there’s nothing inherently wrong with the phrase Up All Night and the word Working.

I’m not going to spell it out, but trust me, it’s bad.

On the plus side of the equation, I found the most awesome blog: Feminist Ryan Gosling.

I finally located my perspective somewhere under a pile of weep. I realized that I tend to have my little meltdowns well after the crisis has passed. Like many children my age, first things go bad, then I handle them, then I realize what I went through and suffer from emotional hiccups. Then I calm down and see that everything is going to be okay.

So there. Everything is going to be okay. Plus a little helping of Feminist slogans: Hey Girl.

The Gazillionth Rewrite

“I feel stupid and contagious” allows me to a) honor Nirvana belatedly (jumping on media bandwagon), and b) succinctly express how I feel when my writing group critiques my work. I have been working on my Frenchness and Identity piece for a while. I must be in my fifth major re-write/re-org at the very least. Last night I had the audacity to share the piece with my writing group, and those lovely wizards clarified the million different ways in which my piece is limping along on crutches, with a bad case of…(I don’t know. I want to say charlie horse, but I’m pretty sure that’s wrong) broken ankle. They rightfully exhorted me to simplify, streamline, focus, deepen, add fuller scenes, and feel the rage. These are all excellent suggestions. I’m going to need to put on my small cape to tackle this mess. It’s not like it was a revelatory session, it was a session of dread. I hate being told that what I suspected all along was right–my nagging doubts are totally warranted. My piece doesn’t suck, it’s too tentacular. Tentacular spectacular. Apparently I have the outline of a book buried in an unevenly paced essay. Oh me oh my, I’m gonna have to work like the dickens to figure this out (again), after having worked so hard to figure it out (before) because nothing is damn linear for me when it comes to writing (darn).

“I’m worse at what I do best
And for this gift I feel blessed”

Smells like teen spirit.

Buzzing Mind

I’ve been waking up and realizing that I’m mulling over the findings in my readings and how they are altering my world view–for example, the best predictors of decreasing poverty rates for African-Americans? Lifting out of poverty correlates to having more AA’s being employed by the government and their having greater political representation.(That’s tonight’s homework–email me if you want the reference.)

Or I wake up feeling deep guilt about not having written anything other than this blog, and ruminate over all the chapters I need to revisit and improve when I start the memoir revision process in a couple of weeks. Here’s My Big Problem: I don’t have a quick snappy way of explaining how/why I ended up writing my memoir, or what the memoir is about. I guess that’s Two Big Problems.

And with my new schedule I’m constantly negotiating my priorities. Right now, for example. I really wanted to nap between work and my evening lecture. But I decided I couldn’t nap until I finished the class reading, and then I decided that if I finished the reading I was allowed to blog (still no nap in sight.)

I realize these are trivial problems–it’s like complaining about being covered in whipped cream–so messy, so sticky, and so delicious. That’s really what’s happening. My life is overfull with wonderful developments, but I’m not used to all this stimulation and activity. It’s great, but it’s definitely an adjustment.

8 years

Today I reviewed a piece of fiction I have been working on for eight years. Eight years. It’s a short story I’m very attached to, but I can’t get it to come out quite right. It’s not like I’ve been continually working on it for eight years, it’s just that I haven’t gotten it into the right shape in eight years. Sometimes the revision process doesn’t just feel endless, it is endless. I keep getting closer to my end goal, just not close enough. Every incremental set of changes advances me slightly less. Microscopic, diminishing return forward progress. Perhaps it’s time for a radical rewrite.