Okay. It’s officially been six months since leaving my tenure-track position at Delta State University where I loved working with students, hated the bureaucracy, and barely had a moment to breathe – let alone write something. Since then, I’ve had good intentions. Words have been slowly creeping back into my head. My eyes are gradually readjusting to actually seeing what’s in front of me. When I was overseas a couple of months ago, I actually wrote something new. Whoop di doo!
As the year (and, let’s face it, the decade) comes to a close, I’m beginning to feel some pressure. And it’s coming from inside. By the grace of all that is good in this universe, I’m blessed with people in my life who, just by their very nature, give me ample time and space. No one has asked what I’m working on or, that dreaded question, “How’s your writing going?” Not one person has said, “Hey! What have been doing for the past six months??” Thank god. Because if I had to answer that question honestly, I’d be forced to admit that I haven’t done much of anything but think about what I should be doing.
Well, alright. That’s not totally fair. The first two months of my “writing life” were taken up with packing up the old house and moving in to the new one. Then, of course, the dreaded renovation, that was supposed to last eight weeks but is already into week thirteen and counting, began. I travelled some. Smoked a lot. Put out some feelers for “future” projects and started blogging. But I had a conversation with a friend the other evening that has me thinking. This friend, wise and serene by all outward accounts, suddenly stated that she was unhappy with her life. If only, she said, she could quit her job. Then she would finally have the time to do all those things she’s always wanted to do. Like what, I asked. Oh, you know. Meditate. Read. Write. Take Yoga. Play Piano. That kind of stuff. Ah. Yes. That kind of stuff. Basically – everything that was on my own list when I left teaching.
I’ve accomplished none of those things. And while the writing is beginning to come, painfully slowly, the rest of my list sits and collects dust. I’m forced to wonder if time is really, in the end, what we need. I want to go back to my grad school days when I was living art. I mean, really eating, sleeping, dreaming art. The writing was always there. My camera was always out. I attended every reading, read voraciously, and barely uttered a sentence that didn’t have something to do, in one way or another, with poetry. Even the meditation group I belonged to (and regularly attended) was centered on writing. I don’t know. Maybe I was obnoxious back then. But I was connected to something, some muse (if you’ll forgive the drama), that I lost along the way.
For several years now, I’ve been blaming my lack of creativity on the fact that, after finishing my MFA, I entered a PhD program in American literature. The creative brain does not survive well in a critical environment. Or so I told myself. Then, after the PhD, it was the job. My first job centered primarily on teaching literature. Not creative at all, I said. So I left that job and took another that centered primarily on teaching poetry. Hmmm. That didn’t work either. And so here I sit. With nothing but time and a blank screen.
I don’t think it’s time that we need. I think it’s focus. Too much time means too many options. What shall I do today? Oh, I don’t know. Well, there’s always laundry and dishes to do. The animals need feeding and attention. The bills have to be paid and, would you look at that? Those files are in complete disarray! After that, well, I need to attend to my relationships – so I’ll spend some time on Facebook commenting on people’s walls so they know I’m thinking about them. Maybe I’ll have lunch with so-and-so or drinks with the girls. It’s actually quite easy to get to the end of the day and look back and have absolutely no idea what you did. Even though you were doing something at every possible moment. And I’m not even a TV watcher. And I don’t like BonBons.
So, here is the solution of the day. I’m going to attempt (NO) – scratch that – I am going to write something on this blog every day until the end of the year. Yes, I know that’s only 23 days. But one must start somewhere! It will be a challenge because the holiday is quickly approaching and I have travel plans and guests arriving and a party to throw. But that’s just the point, isn’t it? There is always something else to do. There will forever be something else to do.
Consider it my own little NaNoWriMo – only I’m not nearly ambitious enough to even try to write a novel. For now, at least, I’ll settle with dribble.