Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Procrastination and Writing

Sleep is creeping back into my life like cooler weather into South Georgia in the middle of September. I feel more sane and more stable, and there are a lot of things that are making more sense to me. Instead of sitting like a Zombie and you know, now that I think about it, I’ve never seen a Zombie sitting. They’re always on the move, groaning and moaning, and shuffling around like drunk sorority girls on a Saturday night, looking for brain, except sorority girls aren’t ever really looking for brains. I had a friend who played as an extra in “Zombieland” and everyone in the office made a pact not to notice his make-up when he came into the office after a shooting and it damn near killed him.
Sitting like a Zombie; kinda went off on a tangent at that point didn’t I?

Anyway, instead of just sitting around like a Zombie I now can perform certain tasks hitherto forgotten to me. One of these tasks is the procrastination I’ve always enjoyed before and during writing. There are times when what I’m writing just freezes in time, suspended while waiting for something to happen, and I have no idea, most of the time, what that something might be.

Washing the dishes is a time honored method of procrastination that actually serves a useful purpose. I’m OCD about washing the dishes every day before I leave to go to work because if I don’t they breed and I wind up with more and more dirty dishes than clean dishes I have ever owned in my life. There was a short lived comic book entitled “PLOP”. It always had three or four short stories that were horror stories that were ridiculously funny. One of the stories was a man’s sink that spawned a monster when the dirty dishes took a life of their own. It’s not like I’ve been scarred for life over that story, but the cautionary tale is not lost on me either.
Tweaking the music list is quickly becoming every writers favorite form of procrastination and if you’ve got a billion songs like I have, you can sit there and build a list of truly great tunes that would allow you to write nonstop for a century and a half, not to mention clean every dish in your house three times. Depending on what you’re writing, and what time f day it is, and what day it is, and whether it’s raining or not, man, there is a lot of thought that has to go into a writing playlist. It has to be right to write. The downside it you’re doing it one song at a time, from many folders, you wind up picking a song, listening to it while you’re looking for a good follow, and then by the time you find the exact right song, the last one is nearly over and you’re doing it all over again. It’s an endless loop of looking, listening, and looking again, like getting hooked on coffee with one of those one cup coffee makers.

There is no greater source for procrastination than food, particularly those foods that require some sort of preparation. You could have just gotten home from one of the greatest banquets in the history of foodiekind and if the kitchen is empty of dishes and the playlist is full, and the screen before you totally blank, your mind will mention that a nice cherries jubilee would be nice for dessert. Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Ooh! Leftovers, no need in letting them go to waste! And that bag of potato chips are just waiting for the perfect word to form in your mind and the crunchy will break loose the ice in your Muse, and…oh shit what the hell is that in the back there? Gross, that was from the party three weeks ago, throw that out, take the trash out now, wash that out with some bleach, and no thanks for the food right now, and an hour later you realize you haven’t written a sentence yet, and have no idea what to write about, but you know you’d like to write something, I mean, you are a writer aren’t you?
Research! You have to find some good names, really good names, for the people in your next book, the one after the book you are not writing right now, and you think the names you make up sound like made up names and totally fake. You fear you’ll write the best novel ever but the characters will all sound like they were named by a four year old on Ritalin. You flee the house to write down street names, any name you see on a billboard, graveyards, or anywhere there might be a name. Noun hunting is procrastination of the most desperate sort and your mind can talk you into believing this is a lot like writing.

So the dishes are done, the leftovers eaten or defeated, the playlist has enough music to last until the next generation of music media when your MP3 player will be as useless as an eight track tape player but not nearly as large, and you’ve run out of people to email and you feel like a whore when you spend time on Facebook hitting the “like” button like some sort of Pavlov’s Dog. You’ve gone to the cemetery and written down half a dozen names for fictional characters and have an irrational fear someone who recognize one of the names as a loved one and hunt you down at night and murder you. Still, the cursor is sitting there blinking on and off like a woman at her door looking at you like, “Kiss me dammit” and you’re sitting there like a Zombie, unable to figure out what’s right there in front of you.

So how to break through this? How do you get past it? I’ll get back to you as soon as I get through folding the last load of clothes in the dryer .

Take Care,
Mike

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