I’ve been circling around writing for the past few months without actually writing; like a movie shark circling around a bloodied limb but never clamping down with its razor sharp teeth.
But as with most things I try to avoid, eventually I come to a dead end and I am face to face with it. I wondered why I was avoiding the very thing I said I wanted to have more time to do? Is it because writing isn’t as fulfilling as I had hoped? Was the idea of being a writer grander than the actual writing itself?
If I am truthful, the real reason I stopped is not because I don’t enjoy it. It is because I am afraid. Afraid it is exactly what I should be doing. And for someone like myself, a cautious over-planner, not knowing how this pursuit will end frightens me in so many ways.
I’m afraid of how honest I want to be. For once my stories are set loose, I cannot take them back. I am in awe of those who bare it all. I just don’t know if I am that brave for there are some stories hiding in the corners, too tender to share.
Although I am not sick, I’m afraid I could die before the two hundred and fifty page rough draft is turned into a respectable novel. Jane Austen and I could commiserate over a cup of heavenly tea in a coffee shop in the sky. Apparently she became too ill to finish her final novel, “Sandition.” At least if it happened to me, I would be in good company.
I’m afraid of becoming a famous bestselling writer and being asked questions on TV talk shows. Of a movie being made from my stories and having to find an elegant dress to wear to the film’s premier. A dress that would only be worn once goes against everything I believe in. Maybe it’s best not to risk it.
On the other hand I’m also afraid no one will read my stories. That each story I lovingly release floats untouched in space. If no one reads them, what is the point of writing and then weeding out words I seem to have a propensity of using way too much. Not long ago I asked someone if they wanted to hear my latest story. There never seemed to be a time she was really interested. Truthfully, it hurt and made sense at the same time, because after all they are “just” stories. Stories don’t provide shelter, warmth or fill a belly with nourishing food.
Needless to say I have been quite prolific in the creative ways I procrastinated, put off and propelled myself toward other tasks to keep both my mind and fingers occupied and away from writing.
I took up knitting and knit three blankets. I tried crocheting hearts, but after watching several tutorials determined hearts are beyond my basic crafting skills.
I made rainbow colored puffy yarn balls to fill a sensory bin for my preschool students. Each ball is made by winding yarn around my fingers one hundred times before tying it off and trimming the edges to make a perfectly shaped sphere.
I spent way too much time in my head taking free flights to the future land of “What If” and cheap cruises through the past countries of “If Only” and “I Tried My Best.”
I pondered the intricacies of Social Security and worried which experts are right; the ones who believe it will be there when I need it or those who warn it is careening towards bankruptcy.
I rechecked my email, Facebook and Instagram as if waiting on a million dollar jackpot. Google took me willingly down winding roads where time leapt forward in hours, not minutes, leaving me gazing into other people’s apparently fully fulfilled lives.
I tried new recipes, impulsively agreed to let my daughter adopt a puppy and sorted a cupboard full of unorganized storage containers and lids. After ending up with many excess lids, I fretted over the proper length of time to keep them. For what if their container eventually shows up at some point?
I watched some great shows on Netflix. I also watched some not so great shows on Netflix. Both allowed me to keep my fingers knitting and my brain turned off.
It wasn’t only activities that filled my time and kept writing as something I’d get to eventually. I also employed standards of perfection that enabled my procrastination. I decided I could only write when the entire house is quiet and I have four hours of uninterrupted time. Of course I must have instrumental music playing, a cup of tea and a candle flickering with the artificial, yet soothing scent of pine wafting through the room.
With each of these avoidance activities I heard the quiet voice residing somewhere between my ears say, “This is not what you are supposed to be doing.” Somehow the quietness of the voice made it seem louder and harder to ignore. “But don’t you see the dishes need to be washed and the floor is certainly not going to clean itself,” I replied.
Even though I still have questions and fears that linger. I do know I am resolved to write. Regardless of whether anyone reads what I have written or not. I am going to write even if I don’t finish all the stories I want to tell. I am going to write even if dishes pile up or containers lose their lids. I am going to give the best part of my day to words, even if I do it imperfectly. For the truth is when my fingers can’t fly fast enough over the keys of my laptop giving voice to the words lining up to be let loose; I feel the truest version of who I want to be in this moment.