Tag Archives: procrastination

Making myself “right”

Making myself write

Making myself write

I told my daughter, Jennifer, that I was going upstairs to “make myself write.” She thought I meant I was going to “make myself right.” If only I could do that. If only any of us with adrenal cancer (or depression or heart disease) could just make ourselves better by announcing we were going to do just that.

Coincidentally, (and I am not certain that there are any coincidences), my granddaughter, Laurel, is studying homophones in second grade. Words that sound the same but are spelled differently and may have different meanings. “Right” and “write” definitely qualify.

Writing may not cure my cancer but it does help make things right in my head. I feel better about myself when I put words down on the page, even if it’s just garbage. And as we writers know, what looks like garbage today might shine like gold tomorrow.

Coincidentally, (again!), I am reading “The Right to Write” by Julia Cameron. Actually, I am rereading it. It was published in 1999 so it may have been 15 years since I first read it! I gave my original book to my sister-in-law and by chance ran into a used one at Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, AZ. At the bargain price of $6.95, I was lured into buying it. When I got home, I found out it had once belonged to (an unknown to me) M. J. Reck, who had made notes and underlined sections in the first two chapters of the book.  Then nothing. I am usually loath to mark up my books but M. J. seems to have given me permission to do just that.

I have discovered that reading the book relaxes me. I don’t remember it having that effect the first time around (I was much too earnest) but now, when I am amped up over Candy Crush or Words with Friends, I can read this book and literally feel my blood pressure drop.

What I particularly like about Cameron’s approach is that you don’t need to have a large block of time to write. Train yourself to grab your ten minutes here and your half-hour there of writing time throughout the day. It’s a luxury to have hours at a time to write.

Yet I have those hours and still don’t write. I know the problem. I’m a perfectionist, which leads to procrastination…..Maybe if I only allow myself ten minutes to write, I won’t expect perfection. Haven’t we already been down this road? (July 27, 2013 post “Perfection Paralysis”)

A brothel in its former life (seen from the bathroom window)

Jerome, AZ

Jerome, AZ

Today I was going to get serious about my book–didn’t I say that yesterday?? What was I thinking? Instead we traveled to Sedona to see Dan, a friend of ours from back in NH who is a snow bird, just like we are now. It’s further up there than we thought–over two hours, and that’s in the HOV lane–and we got a late start (someone had to take a shower and do her hair).

It’s about 15 degrees cooler up there so I was happy I remembered my fleece jacket. We actually ran into some rain on the way up. Rain!

We ventured to Jerome for lunch, with Steve receiving just a warning–no ticket–for speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign. Jerome is an old mining and “ghost” town, about the elevation of Mount Washington, that appears to have most of its original buildings still standing, without any renovations, or if there are any, they are done “tastefully.”

Looking out the window of the bathroom at the restaurant where we had lunch I could see what was obviously a brothel in its former life. And hanging on the walls for decorations were vintage corsets and garters and things I couldn’t identify. Dan will be 90 this July–maybe I should have asked him if he knew what they were?? Without doing any research, I can say unequivocally that Jerome must have been a happening place back in the day!!

Kathy, my Pilates instructor in Vermont, is reading a book that takes place in Jerome. I’ll add it to my list of “must reads.” I can always rely on her recommendations.

In our absence (she must have been afraid I would buy another t-shirt), Joy visited Goodwill and brought home two “new” jigsaw puzzles. While she and Steve were busy carting Tyler to football practice and Haley to gymnastics, I was occupied with setting up one of the puzzles. Although we had vowed not to do another puzzle after the last one, Joy, Haley, and I didn’t hesitate to gather around the dining room table for an hour and work on the new one. We refrained from getting out the head lamps this time but we certainly could have used them. I imagine my writing group members will identify this as creative procrastination. I suppose I could have been out shoveling snow as I know some of them were!!

No word from my doctor on the results of the CT scan or the blood work. Tomorrow I will call as they don’t seem to be the ones to initiate the calls. Did I mention how much I miss DHMC?

Going public

I woke up at 2 in the morning for a bathroom break. Someone was thumping my chest. It took me a few moments to realize that it was me. My arm had fallen asleep and I was attempting to wake it up by hitting it against my chest.

The things we do to ourselves without realizing it. Thinking that someone else is doing them to us. That we are not the cause of our own problems, of our situation. That events just happen of their own volition.

I can always justify not spending time writing because the bills need to be paid, the laundry needs to be done, the dishwasher emptied. Hey, I can’t shirk those responsibilities now that I am no longer working. Sometimes I just don’t feel well enough to do more than lie on the couch and watch TV. I can always blame it on my cancer. Then I can go to my writing group with a reason (an excuse?) for why I’ve been neglecting Anne.

Yet I’ve always been able to force myself to power through projects. When I’ve had to. But not when I’ve wanted to. Wanting to have something done is not enough for me. I’ve always needed a deadline, a real deadline, not one that I’ve set for myself.

Last night at my writing group I committed to submitting next week. I am going to start with the beginning of Anne and work my way to the end. The end of what will be the second draft. Two down, how many more to go after that?

John suggested that I post my novel right here on my blog. WHAT??? That means going public with my writing, posting it on the Internet for the whole world to see (OK, so I only have 53 followers). Before I feel it is ready. Or before I am ready……

Just 250 words every other day. Yet it feels like a major commitment. As frightening as it is I think it’s a great idea. I’d love to hear what you think!

Perfection Paralysis

I woke up this morning dreaming about Anne. Just like most dreams, two hours later I have no idea what it was about. But I see it as a good sign—I am immersing myself in Anne’s life, which can only help me with my novel.

In reality, I don’t need more plot ideas or character background. I have all of that. What I am lacking is the motivation to sit down and write. “Seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” Steve threatened this morning to make me stay at Joy’s cabin until I finish the novel. He will come and visit me but I won’t be allowed to leave!

As though in 39 years of marriage he has ever been able to “make” me do something. He asked how close to completion is the novel? 90%? I must have really fooled him about the progress I have been making on the book. I only wish I were at 90%…or even 50%.

My excuse when I was working was that I didn’t have time to write. So what’s my excuse now that I am retired? It’s the same one that has always been the source of my procrastination—perfection paralysis.

When I was working on my Alex novel, I wrote a diary that was not going to be part of the book. Its purpose was to provide backstory, to help me understand how Alex got to where she is. The patient members of my writing group were the only intended audience so (no offense) I wasn’t plagued by the need for perfection. The ideas flowed. I looked forward to writing at the end of my work day.

Now I don’t work. And yet I don’t write any more than I did when I had a job—maybe less. Time to fix that. For, unlike Mick Jagger who just turned 70, I don’t have a career spanning 50 years to look forward to. How fair is it that someone who has lived his lifestyle is now 70 and healthy, (even the epitome of “70 is the new 50”) when I, with my (almost) squeaky clean life, am diagnosed with adrenal cancer at 57?

There is good news along the way. According to an ultrasound last week, I have a “good-looking” thyroid. And the cyst on it is just a cyst. Nothing to worry about—50% of people have them. I’ve also dropped my mitotane consumption (once again) from 5 to 4 pills a day in an effort to lessen the side effects.

With the good comes the bad. Next week I visit the dermatologist because of a suspicious mole or two. Wouldn’t be much of a concern if not for the two melanomas I had removed back in 2002. The appointment with the dermatology surgeon for the following week is already scheduled. Hoping that it needs to be cancelled…..

Deluding Myself with a New Trick

Been sick for over two days, one of them flat on my back with a temperature. Is this just another excuse to not write? Whatever happened to my commitment with Eleanor to write four pages a day, five days a week? Family is arriving from Arizona and Virginia and the bedrooms had to get painted and the office moved then the new shelves stained and polyurethaned. Did I bring this illness upon myself as a way to get out of painting or as a way to get out of writing?

behind the scenes book image

Just read a book that I actually want to reread. Soon or maybe even next. Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Kate Atkinson’s debut novel. So many characters, plots, subplots, flashbacks, and backstory yet it all seems to work. I didn’t think it was going to at first. And now I need to return to the beginning and dissect the book. There’s so much to learn from her techniques. I guess from most any published author.

And I just came up with a new one of my own. Using my laptop in the dark, it’s hard to find the backspace and delete keys (ones that I use frequently when I am writing), and being too lazy to turn on the lamp, I activated the flashlight app on my cell phone. Works well until I need to type and use the flashlight at the same time.

I’m only deluding myself into believing that this even remotely has anything to do with writing.

Excuses

Managed to get through the worst part of the day—taking my morning medicine, all 13 pills. I know there are those who take more pills than that but I used to take only three: one for my acid reflux, one for my high blood pressure, and one for my seasonal allergies. Still, those extra ten are magic and I try not to forget that.

It’s Father’s Day and Steve has gone golfing, his usual game at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday. It’s supposed to be my time to write. So far I have watched CNN, some HGTV, and back to CNN for Sonjay Gupta, then read the HGTV magazine, taken my medicine, texted Jesse, and now DIY is playing in the background as I finally sit down to write.

Are you getting tired of my excuses yet?

I am.

While I was painting the guest bedroom yesterday, I had some great ideas about my book (“Anne”). Unfortunately I couldn’t just put down the paint brush and dash to the laptop to get them recorded but that is exactly what I should have done as today they are just sort of vague but there’s enough of them left to work with. Except I just got another text from Jesse and she and the kids are on their way over so we can go to breakfast….Interesting that we are going out to a Father’s Day breakfast without either of the fathers…oh, and that I have already eaten a glazed donut and two pieces of raisin toast.

Buckle Down and Write

My writing group met last night and today two of us are having lunch and a writing session at my house. The women of the group have been doing Friday lunches for a while now—we’ve found that one hour just hasn’t been enough time together so we’ve added the writing session. Last week was our first one and although we didn’t accomplish any writing, we did make it a motivational session—for Eleanor. We committed to four pages a day for five days a week, whether original writing or revision. Not only did Eleanor stick to this for the week, she also managed to whittle an existing story down to 4000 words so she could submit it to a writing contest. She is motivated. Why aren’t I?

Maybe if I turn off HGTV/DIY, maybe once I get the painting and minor remodeling projects done, maybe when I’m done with physical therapy, maybe after the Fourth of July and family has come and gone, maybe, maybe, maybe…. maybe I just need to stop coming up with excuses and buckle down and write. Time is not on my side.

So do I want to fulfill my dream or don’t I?  Or am I just in love with the idea of being a writer, unable, unwilling, to invest the effort to realize it?

                     

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