Listen to the dramatic reading by Audra Martin!
Hey hun, I’m going to have to cancel dinner tonight.
I know, it’s a bummer, I’d really been looking forward to it, but I promised myself I wouldn’t leave the house until I’d written a thousand words today, and I’m only at 688, so.
Trust me, I wish I could go out with you tonight. Instead I’m going to sit here alone at my desk and eat a couple bowls of Kashi “Go Lean” cereal, the non-moldy bits of this mozzarella ball (protein), the non-mushy grapes left in the fridge drawer (antioxidants) and half a bag of chocolate chips (energy). Gross, right? But it’s what I have to do. I can’t take time away from my work to grocery shop, cook, or wash dishes. Cooking and cleaning are for human beings, and as you know I am so much more than a human being; I am a Writer.
Those mundane household chores are creative blockers, plain and simple. They are designed to weigh us down with responsibility until we’re too exhausted to fulfill our artistic potential. But that won’t work on me, because I for one know my true calling, and unlike some people, it’s not vacuuming. Do you think Mark Twain vacuumed? Of course not. Mark Twain sat and wrote in fields of dust for months on end until someone less artistic than him came and vacuumed for him because that’s how much he valued his craft. And so do I.
Did it even occur to me to call my dad after his heart surgery to see how he was recuperating? To be honest, no, because that would have meant shutting the door on the Muse, and that is just selfish.
Of course, there are times when the Muse doesn’t come for me. Today was one of those days, which is why I only have 673 words. (I just deleted a sentence because I realized I hate it, and also myself.) This was an especially hard workday because my stretchy pants were in the wash. Have you ever tried writing in jeans? It literally can’t be done. They restrict the thighs and the ideas. Do you think Charlotte Bronte wrote Jane Eyre in jeans? Unquestionably no. She needed to be free, and so do I.
I hear you saying that I could have done the laundry if I needed clean stretchy pants that badly, but that shows a fundamental misunderstanding of my Process. Laundry would have taken at least ten hours out of my workday, and I didn’t have ten hours to waste. (Because I was trying to finish work in time to meet YOU for dinner, silly!)
Of course I’d noticed that the hamper has been full for days. I am terrifically observant of detail. I am a Writer.
No, I’m not scrolling through Instagram while we’re having this conversation. It’s just that the most beautiful line of dialogue suddenly came upon me, unbeckoned, and I need to email it to myself before I forget. Instagram happened to pop up as soon as I unlocked my phone, and I saw an image there that inspired me, but to be clear, I can’t control when or how my ideas show up.
Did I tell you about my newest book idea? No joke; it came to me in a dream! It’s about an ordinary orphan who learns that he has magical powers and gets whisked away to a boarding school for witches.
Right, well, of course that sounds derivative to YOU. Because YOU haven’t read it yet. Every idea is derivative if you choose to look at it that way. There are only like twenty-one stories in the whole world and they just get repeated over and over. It’s all in the execution.
No, I can't share with you my execution of the orphan-witch-school story, because I haven’t written it yet, and now I never will, because you criticized it and when ideas are this young and fragile, the merest breath of doubt can shatter them. So, thanks for that. Thanks for shattering the best idea I’ve had this year.
You’re acting like you want me to apologize for postponing our dinner plans, but I won’t do it. I will never apologize to you or anyone for my Art. If anyone should apologize for these unavoidable circumstances, it’s you: because you’ve made me have this conversation, I have completely lost my train of thought and now I will have to despondently retweet Chrissy Teigen while I wait for it to come back.
Look, don’t get mad. I’ll make it up to you. Let’s go to the movies this weekend instead! I find movies very inspiring and tax-deductible. If I finish revising through Chapter 10, I’ll definitely, no question at all be there.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go vomit up six hundred chocolate chips.