So, along comes Patricia, my writing coach. She couldn't be more intelligent, kind, thoughtful, and intuitive. She is herself a talented, published writer and teaches at both Hamline and the U of M MFA Writing Program. She just knows where to poke around, what to teach, what I need. But, lo and behold, since I've started working with Patricia, I am frozen. I suspect, as she suggests, that now I know I have to get serious. I have about 1/2 of something or other and it would be a waste of time to pretend I don't. So I have to give all of these random pages some kind of form and finish it. And I am a bit panicked about it. So I have been watching myself avoid writing and it really is quite remarkable. So I've come up with my Top Ten List - if only Letterman were delivering this:
The Top Ten Ways for Women to Avoid Writing
The Top Ten Ways for Women to Avoid Writing
#10. Notice that there is not a safety pin to be found in the entire apartment. Appalled by this lack of domestic organization, I make a special trip to Walgreens to buy safety pins. This takes at least an hour if I include the time that I spent looking for the safety pins.
#9. Realize that I haven't shaven since last summer and it is finally 88 degrees. Mortified by how my legs look in walking shorts or a skirt, I clearly need to rid my body of all unattractive hair. So I take a shower mid-day just for the purpose of shaving. This takes maybe an hour with the additional tweezing and application of lotions.
#8. Now that said hair is removed, realize that I have not really gone through my summer wardrobe. It is imperative that I try on all my summer clothing to see how they look sans leg hair. This eats up a couple hours.
#7. Looking at my hairless legs in summer skirts alerts me to the fact that, although now silky smooth, my legs are the color of unbaked pizza dough, so I must make another special trip Walgreens to pick up some self-tanning lotion. This takes at least 45 minutes.
#6. In trying on my summer clothes, realize that I needed to shorten a dress. Well, the foot pedal to my old sewing machine is missing, so I spent time on the internet researching how to replace the pneumatic foot pedal of a 1980 Elna Sewing machine. One hour.
#5. While wardrobe is on the brain , realize I'm going to Paris in late October for the first time in my life, so seems reasonable to start planning for such an event. So I spent an hour looking at images of women in Paris, then shopping online for a chic little black leather jacket. Look at my bank account and decided - Naw.
#4. The basket beside my bedside table can be so annoying whenever you try to find something - like safety pins. So, clearly, clean it out. And while I'm at it, why not organize the 30 hair binders, 12 pens, 7 bobby pins, all those magazine subscription cards, 3 half used bottles of lubricant, 6 unread New Yorker magazines and 14 books that are in there, too? This took an hour and 15 minutes.
#3. Notice that we have two of the same books of Eckhart Tolle on our book shelves in the Library. now, as we have already run out of room in the Library, I begin to ponder the possibility that we have duplicates of other books, as well. A shameful waste of space, so I go through, shelf by shelf, to be sure there are not duplicates. In the process, I linger over books, paging through them. Oh, yes, I read this in New York. Oh, yes, this helped me when Lee moved to LA. OMG - Joseph Campbell and Clarissa Pinkola Estes - oh, remember those days? Oh...here is my Italian dictionary. Remember that very first trip to Florence? Well, this can eat up hours.
#2. The small white knobs at the end of the strings that pull the wooden blinds open and closed have come off. I have a collection of these. It is unattractive to see the string unravelling, so clearly it is time to go through the apartment and re-attach the knobs one by one, sliding each knob with some difficulty onto the unravelling string and tying a knot sufficient not to come untied again. This takes at least an hour.
#1. The number one way to avoid writing is this:
Blame others. My daughter sent me a cover letter and resume to edit. What kind of a mother would I be if I didn't help her? My husband needs me to look over a proposal. Oh, sure, buddy....happy to help, but you do realize I could be writing. My mother just had back surgery and needs me to help her - like pick things up that have fallen to the floor in her Northfield townhouse - like pennies, and English muffins. She's 83 and did so much for me. Or how about the client who actually thinks I should work on their project? My reputation means something to me, people! Oh, yeh, the assistant I hired to take a load off my back so I could write. I have to organize things for her to do now. And then, of course, there is the housekeeper keeping me from writing. She works in my apartment! How can I write when there is someone working in my apartment!