Dust Bunnies and the Voice of Responsibility

It’s been over two long, tortuous months since I’ve written anything substantial or worthwhile, unless you want to count (a) telephone messages, and (b) the few abbreviated paragraphs I’ve written in my personal journal. I don’t count those, though, since phone messages don’t meet minimum word requirements (“call Dick on cell”), and, while I can get downright verbose when complaining about the universe and everything in it, what I write in my journal isn’t motivated by creative impulse; I’m not at all picky about how many run-on sentences there are, or how many times I use the word, “stupid.”

I love to write. I want to write. I can’t think of anything else but writing, unless I’m thinking of ways of getting out of it…and, technically, that’s still thinking about writing. I wake up on weekends, excited at the prospect of a private rendezvous with my laptop, but I’m invariably diverted by the forbidding, ominous Voice of Responsibility, snidely asking me, “are you sure there isn’t something else you ought to be doing?” It hits me with the same cold bucket of guilt I get doused with every time I see a dust bunny provocatively lying in the middle of my hallway. My first inclination is to ignore it instead of sweeping it up, hoping it finds companionship with friends under the sofa, but guilt always sends me looking for the broom.

And if the Voice of Responsibility fails to completely derail my good intentions, its best-buddy and second lieutenant, the Voice of Let’s-Do-Anything-But, adds its two-cents worth. Last Saturday, for instance, I woke up excited about having a day to myself to write, to get lost in my imagination, with no one to wait on, or do for, or think of. Hubby was gone for the day and the dogs weren’t going to be a problem because they’re pretty much self-sufficient as long as there’s food in their bowls. But, the Voices had other ideas:

“You’ve only got about thirty pages left to read in your book,” they whined. “Why don’t you sit down with a cup of coffee and finish it? It’s so good, and even though this is the thirty-fourth time you’ve read it, the best part’s just a few pages away!”

I immediately agreed. I filled my coffee cup one more time, sat down, and finished my book.

The next thing I hear is, “You know, you should wash the sheets on the bed. Remember that article you read last week on Yahoo! about dust mites and dead skin, and how you should wash your sheets in hot water at least once a week?”

Oh, yeah…so I stripped the sheets off the bed, and decided to grab the rest of the laundry while I was at it.

The next thing I hear is, “You hungry? It’s about 11:30…there’s leftover pizza in the frig.”

Pizza!?

Well, things went downhill from there. After the pizza, I folded clothes, vacuumed rugs, let the dogs out, let the dogs in, unloaded the dishwasher, and then practiced playing “Variations on the Theme from the Celebrated Canon in D” on my piano, which is something I generally don’t do unless I’m trying to avoid writing. That actually turned out to be my one saving grace, because the piano is in the same room as my computer. I eventually got up, took the two steps needed to reach my desk, and sat down. I adjusted my chair. I flexed my fingers. Then, after browsing Facebook, checking all my e-mail accounts, and surfing the net (which was how I learned all there was to know about dust mites), I opened up my word processor…and the only thing I could do was stare out the window (wow, can’t believe how big that tree’s grown!)…at the wall…at the shelf on said wall, piled up with all sorts of books about how to write…and, finally at the blank, desolate, unmoving (and unsympathetic) computer monitor. I waited for something—anything—to miraculously materialize, but, alas, no luck.

It suddenly occurs to me how ironic is it that someone like me—who has no trouble personifying globs of dust and dog hair—can’t seem to write about anything other than writing, or the lack thereof.

Apparently, if I ever want to write a novel, and I do, it’s going to have to be about writing…

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About Cindy Thrasher

What about me? Good question. As soon as I figure it out, I'll let you know. In the meantime, let's just say I exist. In Texas. With a husband. In a house. With two dogs.

Posted on May 19, 2012, in The Road to Fame & Fortune and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Great honest post, I can totally identify!

  2. It feels like procrastination goes hand in hand with us writers. xD I would be so desperate to write after leaving work, but then I spend my entire time before bed doing anything but writing.

    • I think you’re spot on. It goes with the territory. Maybe we have to suffer for our art to get any good at it! And if that’s true, my Pulitzer is right around the corner.

  3. Or…perhaps you will willfully embrace the love of writing leaving the guilt behind…and discover something that stirs as much passion for you as writing does. You have a great love for writing and I’m sure many other deserving things…you just may have to get out there and discover what those other things are. Step out of your routine, let the dust settle a little…it will be there when you get back. The only person holding a gun to your head is you. Let go of the guilt and sense of responsibility and delight in some spontaneity…it does wonders for the soul.

    Your writing is coming a long very well.. I am impressed! Just give yourself a break and let those other bottled up passions have their way with you. Perhaps Scotland and Ireland will provide a little nudge in that direction. Love you 🙂

  4. Sometimes, when the page stares at me, I just write the first thing that pops into my head and go from there. On the revision, I just delete it. Or quadruple space to set it off from the rest. Sometimes it’s just a character sketch, setting or the middle of something that I wonder enough about to finish. Maybe not that day. I do have a lot of sketches that will be looked at some time.

    I’m glad I have a computer to store all this on. Tried scraps of paper and those have been in the black hole for years. Once in a while, I may come across one or two and wonder “what the heck was I thinking about?” Must have been a blank page day.

    Writing for that hour {in the a.m. before the dust bunnies strike} is enough to get me through the dust bunnies and washing up phase. Upon occasion, I actually find that I wrote the day away, then happily scramble through the “responsibles.” {or not.}

    On the days when I just can’t seem to do the above, I go with the flow and watch the dust bunnies or dandelion weeds go their separate way. Hmmm. I think I read that very same article on dust mites, etc.

  5. Thank you for this. My problem, I think, is that I do not consider sitting down to write…anything…more important than cleaning the bathroom. If I know what I want to write about, what I want to say, it’s a whole lot easier to justify the time. It’s when I don’t know what to write that I find myself fighting with me. As soon as I accept the truth that writing ANYTHING is worth the time, I’ll be fine. Most likely. Probably. I think.

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