These are all real things I did today in an attempt to justify not writing this:
Voluntarily cleaned the kitchen (unheard of.)
Extracted a tick out of my cat's neck (also unheard of. Their gross little jaws make me nauseous.)
Ran up and down and up and down and up the hill, exhausting entire Thriller album.
Made a new running playlist.
Researched Siddhartha, Monsanto, Bullfrogs, and the history of toothpaste.
I don't know quite what it is about the blank page which is so anxiety-provoking. I've mentioned before and will repeat (if only to affirm a twinkle of writerly sanity) that when I finally get through all the hemming and hawing and Billy-Jean-Is-Not-My-Lover sprinting, I usually am pleased with at least a kernel of what I end up with. And yet, the sitting still seems a Herculean undertaking.
And I don't use that adjective lightly. Gazing into vast and utter incompleteness of a project is daunting, but infusing that barren landscape with all of the intention and story and artfulness and humor you know that it should have often seems positively preternatural.
That's because it is. You're making something where once there was nothing. It's a fucking headache. Even God got tuckered out after six days of the whole rigamarole.
I've been thinking a lot about my brother lately. Mostly because we are stuck on this godforsaken hill together with Russian-Roulette-on-wheels as the only escape vehicle. (what'll it be today? faulty brakes? blown tire? a gruesome death-squeal every time you flick the blinker?) He took the year off from college and has four years of collegiate requirements ahead of him. I cannot believe. CANNOT BELIEVE. That I am a teensy bit jealous.
See, back when I was in school I had this really great catch-all excuse for anything that ailed me creatively. If it weren't for the Man, I'd have the freedom to make my Opus. Damn the Man, with his busywork and finals and required readings (which I didn't do, but which the stress of not doing undoubtedly clogged my creative pores with guilty, Ivory, heteronormative, puritanical junk to the popping point... seriously. Being bossed around is super hard. Poor me poor me etc. etc.)
Hmmm..... Cut to post-Man.
Now that I am both Manless and Opusless I'm feeling more hopeless by the moment. Because if all that's standing between me and those amazing pet-projects I dreamily envisioned during loooooooong, poorly organized psych lectures is me, then what was stopping me in the first place?
No, shut up. The answer is not me. Shutupshutup. I mean, it is me, of course, but I'd like to take a moment to expound upon the possibility that "me" is less the answer than the problem.
When I am scribbling in my notebook, I write all sorts of bullshit that nobody, including me, will likely be able to understand. When I sit down to write a blog post, I have a certain expectation for myself. For you, the reader.
When I sit down to write a book, this expectation is launched into hyperspace with the help of all sorts of combustible anxieties ranging from "are people going to buy this?" and "can I really get away with doing this for a living?" to "what defines my existence if not my actions? and shouldn't I be maximizing my self-creation by soaking in all of the scholarly brilliance of minds past instead of watching Gossip Girl and writing for teens? or does the transitory nature of life point to ultimate understanding as a transcendence of minutia into a broader acceptance of the unity of everything? Should I cast off all worldly possessions and go move to Varanasi? Do they get Gossip Girl in Varanasi??? [Enter every hysterical doubt about Love, Art, Religion, my Purpose, my Body, my Brain, my Sanity, etc.]
[All afforementioned players strike up a blaring ticker-tape parade across my prefrontal cortex complete with bagpipes and tubas and confidence confetti. ]
Even when I'm being super nice to myself, when Ethel* is tied up in some cerebral cellar somewhere, I psych myself out with...myself.
Anytime I sit down just for the fun of it with absolutely no expectations, without narrating my own creative process as it's unfolding, without freaking out about how much I haven't done, and how much I have to do, and what this process implies about my worth as a human being and my ability to function in society and find meaning and avoid being run over by my own shitty car... stuff gets done. And really, can we ask anything more of ourselves than to get some stuff done? Even if it's not the best stuff, the perfect stuff, its stuffliness alone should suffice in the face of nothing. Procrastination. Endless potential without followthrough...
I think if Old Testament God had thought too much about the longterm repercussions of his creation-binge he wouldn't have bothered to get past light and dark. Who needs all that water and wind and all those beastly seagulls shrieking around all over the place? Not to mention man and sin and Cain and genocide and totalitarianism and zealots endlessly trying to put words in God's mouth... figuring out what he was thinking... though if God is omniscient then he knew that would happen... knew that I'd be thinking about his thinking from the very first thought... in which case what sort of divine wisdom am I supposed to be gleaning from this cyclical-
NO. Enough meandering. Back to business.
I'm sorry I haven't been more active on the blog recently. When I finish a post I can't wait to start a new one, but with each passing day it gets more and more difficult to live up to my own expectation of what would justify and ameliorate such an extended absence. So let this be a lesson to... me. Just do the stuff and worry about what it means later. Because even after all that brooding you're not really going to know what it means anyway, and interesting work is absorbed and torn and tasted and digested by a million different people who won't give a damn about what you thought it meant anyway, so you might as well just get going gone.
Gone from where? More like gone from whom. I think.
(therefore I waffle.)
[and want a waffle.]
(and have no discipline)
....or talent or time or tact or grasp on reality or
There's only one conclusion and it's agonizingly short: Do stuff. Do. Stuff. This blog post marks my emergence from a (truth be told) pretty depressing bout of unproductiveness, and it sucks to feel like a shmuck. Sucks even more than the possibility of failing miserably at doing the stuff that you're not doing. Logically this makes sense, but I don't think logic has ever been man's most closely heeded advisor, so don't beat yourself up for knowing and not listening to this. Every day is a new day with new stuff to be done. So do some easy stuff or some hard stuff without worrying which type it is and what it will mean, it's just stuff all the same. Do let me know how you're doing. Do reward yourself for little victories.
And do know that the do-itude of yesterdays has no bearing on domorrow...
Much Love & Productivity,