When you don’t do anything . . .

I made promises. I wrote notes; I paced. I washed the dishes because it had to be done. After that, I cleaned the kitchen, vacuumed, and watched TV. I made new files and wrote a line in each one. I played a short phrase of music and then turned the keyboard off.

For years and years, writing a novel has been a plan. I’ve done work here and there, up to a point. I have reams of paper with words and characters that now seem unfamiliar and embarassing.

Maybe writing a book will always just be a plan. Maybe not. I think most people have something like this in their lives, something that nags at them, a project that is the project of their lives. I’m really good at talking and planning, not so good at doing. I like notes and fragments, and often when I’m writing I’ll encounter a problem I don’t want to deal with, so I leave a note for myself to deal with it later. As I get older I feel better about this. Sure, one day I might get it right, I might actually take a fragment of something and make it whole, or I might not. I wonder if anyone else can relate to this: being great at making not doing anything look like doing something.


2 Responses

  1. *raises hand*


    1.) I think everything we create is some degree of embarrassing in retrospect.

    2.) The way you write reminds me of Pirsig in Zen… He would just brainstorm and throw things on notecards, some full thoughts, some fragments, then he’d organize and reorganize them and solve those old problems and throw out whatever didn’t hold up. It’s like the literary equivalent of, “measure twice, cut once,” right?


  2. hear, hear, sir.

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