stay-at-home to stay-and-write

As far as procrastination is possible with four kids and work, I am still a pro-procrastinator. Do you know how many books need to be checked out of the library? Do you know how badly the Chiefs need fans? Do you realize that if we don’t beat down the path through the woods on a regular basis it will grow over?

It has me thinking about work ethic, though I understand the theory of one person’s work is hardly comprehended by the next person. When I sub at school I’m always shocked at how many worksheets kids have to do when I think it might be more productive to do hands-on projects for learning’s sake (and not just doing’s sake). Sure, I can have first graders cut and paste pictures into rows–but I would rather make a guitar out of rubber bands and an empty kleenex box to learn about sound waves.

But…that is what some teachers call work, so I can’t really argue. They get paid more than I do for passing out worksheets. And if the kids get them done, by all appearances they have good work ethic while I’m left standing with an empty kleenex box in my hand.

I honestly cannot see how a novelist finishes a book and has any energy left to edit the poor thing.
I can sit my rear in a chair and type thousands of words but the bound book is another beast altogether. How can anybody point at a computer screen and call it their work? It’s the worksheets that matter in this world, not the learning and becoming. It’s having something to hold in your hands that proves your work and maybe even a little of your worth.

So back to procrastination.
I bought myself a too-early birthday present because I was looking for a used mandolin (yet another wonderful method to procrastinate–right now we’re learning Whiskey Before Breakfast) and was instead accosted by a beautiful, hand-stitched quilt. I’ve been working on a quilt myself, having never finished one completely before. But I cannot ever narrow it down to a patternless fabric (which is what I love, bold colors, bold, simple pattern), and this one is so fantastic. $85. It will make me happy every time I go to bed.

It has been my goal my entire adult life to have a quilt for each holiday. Since I don’t decorate for holidays, it’s my way of paying homage.

Here is the thing: I think I’m still coming awake to the post-stay-at-home life after spending so much time raising kids at home. It’s like I cannot manage my time because so much of my home time used to be spent in that passive, exhausted observing state. I’m too giddy now to rest for the sake of resting. I like to wander the aisles of Sam’s staring blankly at all the same pallets of all the same goods.
And wandering into an antique mall without someone almost pooping their pants (that’s the only time I’ve ever been in an antique mall since I’ve had kids–in extreme emergency) is a rare treat of which I’ll never tire. But having spent so much time with small kids, I’m also pretty efficient at getting my quilt-buying procrastination done and back home to business.

But about that novel:
I’ve begun and quit and begun again, so I’m shooting for a short story situation and I’ll be glad if I can get it past that. Or even a series-style book, which I hear is becoming a thing on Kindle.
It is a story about writing and reading (which is beloved by writers and readers, if you don’t know the demographic, wink wink) and so I’ve been reading furiously. Right now it is the collection of letters between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning–some ridiculous 550 pages or so (I don’t get bogged down in the weight of it because it’s on my tablet).
I’m taking lots of notes:

…I have lived all my chief joys, and indeed nearly all emotions that go warmly by that name and relate to myself personally, in poetry and in poetry alone. Like to write? Of course, of course I do. I seem to live while I write–it is life, for me. Why, what is to live? Not to eat and drink and breathe,–but to feel the life in you down all the fibres of being, passionately and joyfully. And thus, one lives in composition surely–not always–but when the wheel goes round and the procession is uninterrupted. Is it not so with you? Oh–it must be so. For the rest, there will be necessarily a reaction; and, in my own particular case, whenever I see a poem of mine in print, or even smoothly transcribed, the reaction is most painful. The pleasure, the sense of power, without which I could not write a line, is gone in a moment; and nothing remains but disappointment and humiliation. I never wrote a poem which you could not persuade me to tear to pieces if you took me at the right moment! I have a seasonable humility, I do assure you.

(Elizabeth Barrett Browning in a letter to Robert Browning, 1/15/1845)

1 Comment

  1. Lol I’m a serial procrastinator so I know exactly how you feel. And I always procrastinate from writing too. Wishing you all the best with your writing goals, from a fellow struggler!

    Liked by 1 person

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