Posted by: jeannineatkins | May 29, 2008

Stuck Between Two (or more) Worlds

I’ve declared to a couple people here that June is End of Procrastination Month. It was fun to declare. It was fun to make up some sort of manifesto. But really, I’m not that type of person. I’m more, hey come work if you want to. And if you don’t, you can tell me about it. Or not.

Becky has just written about the diligence she’s asking of herself, making us privy to the strong talking-to she was giving her writer’s head. I didn’t need the little mood icon “determined” to know she was. Every word felt pounded out and certain. She reports this talking-to seems to be working and I’m very very glad.

As she noted, different strategies work for different people at different times.I have to say I think my writer’s mind would run the wrong way if I tried to talk that sternly. I am a huge fan of Ann Lamott, so full of wisdom, and who makes me laugh, and whose book, Bird by Bird I constantly recommend. She is well known for advocating let’s just say very bad, very ugly, very messy first drafts, which makes a lot of sense. But I don’t like speaking to my writer’s brain in her down-to-earth language. I find a gentle voice works better. I’ve laughed when my friend Pat’s enormous Great Pyrenese dog clambered into my car, filling up the whole back street, and drooled, and Pat, maybe the world’s gentlest person, (a reading teacher), just high-pitched her voice instead of raised it and said, “Come on now, Denali. Please get out. Please.” That huge dog did not budge. It took some pushing. It took bribes.

But that kind of light voice is the one I most respond to when I oversee my writer’s mind. I don’t move quickly. Nothing happens fast. But with some time and gentle words – Come on back — things do creep forward.

So here I am in with a teenager in 2400 B.C. Oops, here I am worrying about Pat, who is very sick right now. Back to 2400 B.C. Then, oh, the iris have opened, and there’s a hummingbird! and what was it Pat said her doctor said yesterday? I’ve started a folder to write down my fears about my friend, notes about chemo, side effects, our happy memories of more than twenty years and plans, too. Emptying these “stray” thoughts onto the page helps free me up to get back to the task at hand. And grateful to be writing about history, to be living somewhere else for part of the day.

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Responses

  1. Oh Jeannine,
    I am so sorry to hear about Pat. You are both in my thoughts.

  2. Thanks, darling (and mistress of the soft but sure voice). I know we are and it means a lot.

  3. Boy, are our minds on the same track, Jeannine. Ditto to everything you said about different strategies, Ann Lamott, and not moving quickly. Give your friend a hug.

  4. Thanks, Jill. Good luck for your own creeping forward.

  5. I’m so sorry about your friend. I have a (minor) version of that going on in my life right now, and, yes, its so hard (and sometimes feels so wrong) to put that aside and focus on the writing. I love your idea of writing into its own folder. Good luck–sending strong hope your, and her, way.
    I love your image of Pat’s dog. When my son was still in a car seat, we found a neighbor’s mastiff wandering around the hill. When I opened the car door to get my son out (so we could walk the dog home), the dog tried really hard to climb into my son’s lap. Son was NOT happy.
    End-of-procrastination. I’m with you. Disconnecting now. 🙂

  6. Yes, this dog is so so loving, but doesn’t have a clue re his size. The thought of plus hundred pounds of dog with a kid in a car seat is not pretty.
    Thanks for the wave and waving back as you disconnect. Good for you! Onward!

  7. I also get stuck between two worlds. I enjoyed your thoughts.

  8. I suppose we all get stuck between worlds in different ways. But we all aren’t contending with earthquakes, too… hope your world stays basically in one place for a long long time.

  9. I’m moving next week to China–I will first be in the US for 2 months, including my first residency at Vermont College–so my world is changing drastically.
    No earthquake damage at my house, but there is some damage in a nearby town and the highway is severely damaged and is closed. Our house shook a lot–it is amazing how much shaking can occur.

  10. sending good thoughts for Pat…and hoping that teenager from the past keeps speaking to you.

  11. Thanks so much for posting this. I am a huge fan of Anne lammot but don’t we all need to find our own way?
    I’ve printed your post as it provides me comfort while I am feverishly working on finishing my two sample chapters to be sent off.
    Thanks for helping me become brave again !

  12. Thank you, Nan.

  13. Thank you! It’s good if we can all help each other be a little braver. Good luck with those sample chapters (and the hard work of sending them off, too.)


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