I’ve learned something about myself in the last few weeks: I prefer having done things to actually doing them. Even things I profess to love, like writing and baking, I sometimes feel too lazy or stressed or too paralyzed by fear of failure to actually get up and do. This past month’s specific examples:
Writing a book
Writing a book proposal
Reading my work aloud to an audience
Shopping for a dress
Being sociable / Going to bars
Writing blog posts about my life / Trying to write about my life without moaning or ranting
All those things and more, I would like to have done, without actually having to do them. This is dumb, as it’s always worth it once I do get my butt in gear, and it’s also ironic, because I’ve never been one to want to rush through life. I’m always wishing I could slow time down, give me one more week with my friends, one more hour to finish this file for work, one more day before the big deadline (one more year before the even bigger deadline: death, of which I’m irrationally terrified).
I’m in a state of constant nostalgia; my rose-colored glasses are so tinted they’re damn near opaque, blurring out all the sharp corners and sorrows of my former lives. I look back on my Wash U days and my heart aches for the library, study breaks on the lawn, late-night cookie-baking and interpretive dance. But conveniently blurred out are all the stresses and deadlines and lack of sleep that caused us to need those moments of relief. I do the same thing with St Louis, missing the kindly folk and the easy parking but forgetting the manatee drivers and the cow-sized potholes.
Really I think it’s just anywhere-but-here syndrome. I spent the first few months of writing my book fantasizing about having finished it, and now that I’ve finished the first draft I find myself reminiscing wistfully about the early days, when everything seemed possible and I wasn’t yet convinced that I’d be a failure all over again and lose my damn mind as a result. But the other day, a friend of mine got into a creative writing program(me) and I got so excited for her, and as I was telling her how despite my issues with my course, I’m sitting here stressing over the edits for my manuscript of a book that’s been itching to get out of me for years, so I can send it to an agent who’s shown a little bit of interest in me, and I owe all that to the MA course… I realized that everything I was saying was true.
Despite all my wishing and moping to go back or forward in time, the truth is that right here, right now, is kind of exciting. I’ve got a book on my hands, which I wrote, which has real publication potential, and for once I even have some people supporting that effort (people who actually know the business, even!). I’m living with someone who, even when he’s just pulled a night shift at the hospital and is totally shattered, listens to my excited rants about new directions in my writing or endures my stresses about my crumbling work life. I’ve got a job which, despite suddenly involving a lot of new people instead of my lovely and supremely competent digi-girls, is flexible and allows me to go back to San Francisco for a full month at the end of July. And I have friends, here and in San Francisco, who never get fed up with my articulate whining or my baking experiments, but rather keep coming back for more.
So, yeah, it’d be nice to have published a book and to have found a job and an apartment in New York and to have settled myself in a career path. But this right here is kind of nice too, and I don’t think I’d want to have missed out on the journey.
*Those few of you who read my personal, things-I-do-and-feelings-I-eat blog may recognize this post. Apologies for the re-post, but I thought it was writing-relevant and I wanted to post it here too.