Yesterday I read more motivational quotes than I can shake a stick at, listened to podcasts while spending 10+ hours on the road taking my one and only daughter back to college, counted how many books I have laying around the house half-read (twelve), practiced my keynote speech for a thing next month (if it’s an audience of three, it’ll be fine), and as if that weren’t demotivating enough, literally about twelve minutes ago, at 4:17am, I signed up for a 30 day Writing Challenge that some stranger who just started following me on Instagram is offering.
This is not good.
At least, I don’t think so. If someone told me that was how they just spent the last 24 hours of time-in-between-time, I’d laugh at them and say, “but what did you do?”
It feels like I just wasted a whole bunch of hours. And I hate wasting anything other than gross wilted spinach that never lasts as long as the phony expiration date promises.
This must be what “writer’s block” feels like. Clearly one actually has to write on a recurring basis before being qualified to make such an assumption, so obviously I am not assuming a thing right now.
The latest just-started book on my nightstand (or, somewhere) is Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. She’s only ever been funny to me once in a while, so I’m not sure why I decided to buy this book. I have no more room on my bookshelves in my home office and no more room for empty words in my head. The only deduction I can make in retrospect is that maybe for a quick second I thought she and I – Amy and I – are of the same ilk. I just like saying that word. It reminds me of a thirsty elk, not that I’ve ever seen an elk other than on a wallpaper pattern I slapped up on one of my former basement walls when I was trying to please someone I was once married to. I’m not sure what the ilk that was about.
Nor again, am I sure why I bought this book. I don’t even like the cover. It had to be the prologue, whereby she frenetically launched into describing “why writing is hard.” At one point, she was lying in bed with her four-year-old nestled up against her trying to shield the bright screen light and the noise of the keyboard from his unconscious little self while she wrote about the next non-earth shattering thing.
In the middle of whatever didn’t grab my attention, she interrupted herself to say, “people think you must carve out the perfect space to write at a certain time – I wrote this book in between everything else, like when I was on the subway or the toilet or finishing a screenplay.”
Evidently I just figured out why I am obstinately refusing to read the rest of it.
Sometimes I try to shield the bright lights and noises, too. It looks different. Sometimes I lay in bed reading things way above my understanding; other times I browse an OK! smut magazine which requires no thought at all except, “are these people for real and did I really just spend four bucks on this?”
And there have also been times when I’ve just gotten in bed with a glass (bottle) of wine and pretended to read. While a totally ineffective shield, wasting those hours was somehow ok with me. Those hours needed to pass. They needed to just slowly, painfully, desperately tick away.
Like losing an old friend, I needed the sound of that loneliness and the time I could never get back to make a virtue out of necessity.