Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow. Anonymous
I looked myself in the mirror this morning and thought “you know what you have to do…soooo…why aren’t you doing it?” I don’t just have a book in me. I have an actual book in writing, somewhere, spread across 3 computers and my Kindle, some assembly required.
What I “should do” is get off my ass and gather up my chapters, experiments, late night ravings, and side stories into a some semblance of a book and start editing the damn thing. No writer anywhere, regardless of their skill level, spits out a finished copy in one go. But, I have to be perfect you see. Rough draft, not in my nature. Which means of course that my nature needs some work. I’m going to have to push past this though because working on my nature will be yet another excuse to not work on my book.
Oh, but there are soooo many more important things to do, like playing World of Warcraft from morning till night 3 days in a row. Then embark on a mission to read every book Steven King has ever written, including re-reading his book called “On Writing.” Then I need to purge my file cabinet, get my nails done, and sort all the Tupperware in the garage.
After all this I need to surf the internet for 3 days looking for books on how to write a book. Of course I get side tracked into celebrity tell alls like what Angelina Jolie’s tattoos mean. Just for the record they are the geographical coordinates of the birth place of her children. Or the fact that nude photos from Kristen Stewart’s new movie got leaked. Oh yea, like that was an accident and furthermore, why do I care?
I tell you why I care, because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire. This is saying a lot coming from a woman who wrote a post last year called “Procrastination Should be Punishable by Death.” So why am I procrastinating? Because I’m scared that’s why! I’ll write a book, put it out there and it flops so hard it knocks the wind out of me. So what? I don’t understand why this is tripping me up so much. I’m starting to get pissed off at myself. It may even culminate in me bitch slapping myself. If that what it takes, well then I’m going to have a red face and finished book.
Most people don’t grow up. Most people age. They find parking spaces, honor their credit cards, get married, have children, and call that maturity. What that is, is aging. ― Maya Angelou
Maybe some people have a knee jerk reaction to the term “grow up.” Perhaps it’s more of a case of growing into yourself. Little girls like to play dress up with mommy’s clothes. Boys like to do it too, I know because I have brothers. Now they didn’t dress in my mother’s clothes, but we had a lot of fun coming up with costumes.
When we get older we are told to put away childish things. What I want to know is…who defines childish things? I put away painting and creativity for 50 years because I bought into the lie. You mess around with finger paints, water colors, crayons, but then you grow up. Other activities are deemed more important. Making a living in a mind numbing horrible job. Pay the rent, raise the kids, wash the clothes, feed the starving hordes, buy a house, buy a car, work for a charity in your “free time” because you are supposed to give back, never mind that you giving to someone else’s idea of what is important.
I’ve been reading this book called the Artist Way, by Julia Cameron. I read it years ago, but put it away. The author points out in excruciating detail all these fallacies when it comes to creativity. She suggests treating your inner artist as a child who wants to come out and play. If we put it off this child, just like a physical child, will have a tantrum. It manifests as stress, boredom, ennui, and feeling like something is missing in your life.
To the left here is my very first every oil painting so don’t laugh! I struggled with it and finally declared it finished because any additional paint I added just seemed to make it more blurred and muddy. I learned a lot about mixing and blending colors from it.
Any way back to the Artist Way, Cameron states that we shoot ourselves in the foot when we label ourselves as lazy when we fail to let go and start creating. What it really going on is fear with a capital F. There is a huge difference there.
This rang true for me and I realized that I’d been doing it for 50 years. I’ve always loved to write so the first step I took to get away from the fear was to start a blog. And let me tell you, I almost had a stroke the first time I pushed the “publish” button. And over the past couple of years I’ve been through a gamut of emotions. But, I gave myself permission write about what I wanted to write about. Then I had to give myself permission to not write when I didn’t want to or felt I had nothing to say that I wanted bared to public scrutiny.
The last week or so writing fell by the wayside because I’ve been caught up in painting. The creative part of my brain is expressing itself in colors, textures and shapes instead of written words. It’s an interesting state of mind. I get so caught up in it that words seem foreign. Now that I’m back to painting with words, they seem to come out a bit different than before. I’m loving it and I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.
Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth, or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humor? Frank Moore Colby (1865-1925) American educator and writer
A sense of humor is a gift from the Gods. I don’t know I would have survived as long as I have without one. It always puzzling to encounter a person who is obviously doing everything they can to squelch theirs. Even people blessed with creative nature. There seems to be this social convention that the best artist or poet is a tortured soul. Maybe they are just the ones who get the most attention.
Lately I’ve been reading tons of books related to Bipolar disorder. I need to sit down and list them just so I can keep track of them all. It’s not just morbid curiosity because this particular silver hammer fell on my head at a visit to head doctor a few months ago.
One overriding theme in almost all the books so far is the fear that medication to treat the manic phase of bipolar will some how rob someone of their creativity. I had that same fear and also the fear that I would sit around like a lump of clay and not laugh about anything, especially after coming across “inappropriate laughter” as a listed symptom of mania.
I did go through a mild phase of that right after starting meds until my body adjusted. But looking back, my creativity was not gone; it just got put on a high shelf out of harm’s way until I found my way back to the center and balanced. True there are days when I feel like I’m barely balanced on the head of a pin, but most days are good days.
I prefer to view inappropriate laughter as laughing out loud at a time when it will cause emotional harm to those around you. Seeing the humor even in death is not necessarily a marker for mental illness. I bolster my case by referring you to the Darwin awards (see example below). It’s a site that list stories of people who removed themselves from the gene pool by killing themselves accidentally in incredibly stupid ways. For example; making drunken love on a commuter train track, standing on a wheelchair on a balcony to water hanging plants, trying to use a lawn chair with helium balloons as a form of travel, etc.
I did actually have to squelch what would probably have been inappropriate laughter at a funeral once. The woman in the coffin was a friend who died tragically at a young age in a car crash.
I covered my face and just shook until the feeling turned to tears of grief. The need to laugh part was from wanting to howl, slap my knee and say “Girl, I’ve been telling you for years that you shouldn’t be texting, putting on makeup and giving yourself a manicure all at the same time while driving down the highway at 80 miles an hour, drunk at 3:00am.
Hmmm, wonder if she was a bit manic at the time? I’d like to think she’s sitting up on a cloud somewhere thinking “Yea, yea, so you were right. When you get here someday, I’m gonna slap you! Then we’ll do belly shots off of hot looking pretty boy angels.”
(12 April 2008, Florida) Traffic was moving slowly on southbound I-95. Shawn M. had recently left a Pompano Beach bar, and now he was stuck in traffic. As the saying goes, you don’t buy beer–you just rent it, and Shawn couldn’t wait another moment to relieve himself. “I need to take a leak,” he told his friends.
Traffic was deadlocked, so the waterlogged man climbed out, put his hand on the divider, and jumped over the low concrete wall… only to fall 65 feet to his death. “He probably thought there was a road, but there wasn’t,” said a Fort Lauderdale police spokesman. The car was idling on an overpass above the railroad lines.
His mother shared her thoughts. “Shawn didn’t do a whole lot for a living. He got along on his charm, just like his father.”
Though his death was tragic, Shawn’s downfall proves the old adage: Look before you leak!
“Guess he was dying to go.”
“He shoulda peed in a bottle.”
“Apparently it was just his time to go.”
I went for a really long walk today. We’re talking like 10 whole blocks round trip. Yep, I walked to the 7-11 convenience store, instead of driving, for pack of smokes for the 1st time in the 10 years I’ve lived in this neighborhood.
When I told Mr. Husband I was doing it he looked at me like I was crazy. People just do not walk here in Big D unless they have no other choice. It’s like a status thing. This city isn’t set up for walking and it’s sort of scary. I didn’t bring an iPod, or phone, or to-do list, just keys and 20 dollar bill in my pocket.
I felt like I was walking down the street naked. I wouldn’t have felt any weirder if I was crawling down the shoulder of a highway. But an interesting thing happened. I wasn’t sight-seeing because I’ve seen this street a gazillion times. No distractions, TV, radio, looking around, talking – just walking and thinking. I was little shocked at how odd it felt. It left me with nothing to do except think.
At first my mind decided to interpret the oddness as ridiculous fears. What if I trip and fall, what if someone runs over me or kidnaps me. Then the scariest fear of all hit me. “Oh my God, what if I can’t write a good story because I’m not outrageous, ballsy, over-the-top enough. I had to stop right there on the sidewalk and bend over to lean on my knees because it made me laugh so hard. If anybody saw me I hope they thought I was taking a breather from jogging.
It occurred to me that I’ve been sort of hiding in the suburbs. I was living my life so hard and fast that I needed a break. My mind drifted back over the vignettes I’ve been writing in a memoir of sorts. When I read back over them I think, good grief, if someone told me tales similar to what I’ve done I wouldn’t even believe them. Then a blessed Eureka moment occurred. I don’t even have to make up stuff for a work of fiction. I only have change names and places to come up with one helluva a bizarre tale. Writers have suggested it to each other for years, but it never really sunk into me, my heart, until today.
Then I went back to mental fidgeting. Yes I could fictionalize my life story, but I’m not done living yet. How do you come up with an ending when it hasn’t happened yet? I guess that’s where the creative thinking comes in. And who says it has to have an absolute ending anyway? My tales wouldn’t fit in one book anyway. Tally ho! I’m off again, re-inspired and ready to rock.
Make note of you dreams. Even when they are nightmares. Sometimes I beat myself up thinking I’m not creative enough. What the hell does that mean anyway? Maybe not creative in the particular way I want to be at a particular moment. If I want to write, instead the brain comes up with a new coat design or a necklace. If I’m knitting, suddenly I want to write a story about mockingbirds gone bad.
I proved myself creative again in a nightmare last night. Mr. Husband was sure that seeing all that gore in that damned movie The Immortals would cause nightmare. He was right, again. I just hate it when that happens. Turns out I can cook up quite a long and involved tale of horror.
The dream last night churned up fears of angry men and a zombie apocalypse. What if the zombie turns out to be your husband? You thought you buried him weeks ago after he died from a plague. Now here he is at your doorstep, pissed off because you buried him. And he wants pay back. Allen Alda played the part of my zombie husband. Why my brain picked him, who knows? My God, I liked Mash, but Allen doesn’t blow my skirt up at all. Not even a little. It’s probably best that it wasn’t the real Mr. Hubby. That is just be too weird.
This dream involved guns, and me missing a target at point-blank range. I only blew the zombie’s arm off. Every one knows that doesn’t kill a zombie, it just makes a mess and slows them down a little. It also featured a crossbow with a rope attached to it. The crossbow just happened to be conveniently on my front porch. Right in between a potted plant and the porch swing. With this I shoot the target (zombie husband) and then hop on a riding lawnmower. I drive round and round the tree securing him to said tree. The logic – I won’t have to shoot a moving target. All this accomplished in PJs, bathrobe and bunny slippers.
The dream ended before I finished the job. I’m glad of that. Just too, too graphic. If I ever turn this into a story, the final scene will me sitting on the porch swing sipping tea from a beautiful porcelain tea-cup. I’ll contemplate whether or not zombies make good fertilizer, and be vaguely annoyed that I have to bury zombie husband again. Seems that asking them to bury themselves is just one to many items on a honey-do list.