There is just no other word for it. I am in a cold place right now. For you see, I am not writing. I’d love to blame it on the past couple of weeks being busy—the first days of a new school year are fun for masochists only—but in my heart I know no excuse is good enough. I’ve eked out a couple of words here and there; gotten excited about a chunk of time for writing only to, you know, actually sit down in front of the computer; bravely forgone working out or cleaning the house in order to carve out time to write. But as my schedule settles down I have no choice but to face it.
I am frozen. And I know why.
Fear. Sad but true that four little letters hold so much power. I sit down to write and what Anne Lamott lovingly refers to as “KFKD” starts playing in my head: “Hmm, that’s not very good, is it?” “What, you’ve only got 15,000 words written? You’ll never finish this thing.” “Ooh, your agent is gonna HATE this one.” And then I back slowly away from the computer. I do everything else on my to-do list. I get desperate: I actually GRADE. When a teacher is grading, she really wants to avoid doing whatever it is she’s supposed to be doing.
I know the only way to defeat this is to write—just get it out there, no worries about if it’s good or not, no worries about if/when I’ll finish. But the only way to do that is for me to clear this enormous mental hurdle, and I just haven’t been able to catch any air this week. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so letting go of expectations is difficult for me. In the meantime I’m sharing all my insecurities with you. Blogging is writing, right? I’m building my platform, right?! Ooh, did I grade that last set of essays? I should probably do the dishes. Maybe the dog needs dusting again.
I saw two great plates at the British Museum. The first was inscribed, “Nothing was ever achieved during sleep.” Right now I’m “asleep”—I’m procrastinating, I’m fighting the work that needs to be done, and so the end result is a big fat nothing. I need to wake up.
The other plate said, “Everyone fears his destiny.” At the time I thought it was a little dark, but now I feel like I understand it better. My destiny is not some big shiny prize at the end. No one is ever going to pat me on the back and declare, “You’re done with writing forever, thanks for your contribution!” The hard truth is my destiny is the work.
So my new to-do list is:
- Wake up
- Warm up
Well, after I dust the dog again, of course.