All that’s missing in my brand new home office is me. I even have my very own plant. And enough monitors to get a suntan (two on the left are for working at home on Mondays! Hooray!). Patty and I have worked hard to transform our third bedroom into a showcase of Ikea products, er, I mean into functional, comfortable workspaces for the two of us. Her desk is on the right wall unseen in the photo. We now both work from home on occasion and we created an inviting environment for that.
And I call myself a writer. Tsk, tsk. Wait. I forgot one “tsk.” There. Much better. Works great with three “tsks,” not just two. Of course I know that. Wow. I’ve been away too long! And I really do think of myself as a writer. Ask me for a one word summation of William Norman Boggs, Jr. and you’ll get “writer” without pause, every time. But can I be a writer and not write? Hmmm. Writer, not philosopher.
Well, just sit back and watch me dump a bucket full of self-swirled shame onto my own almost-bald head (seeps in much faster that way). It’s been many months since I saddled up my little blog-mule and rode around this cranium patch. “Why is that?” said I to me just the other day.
It’s been more than a year since I wrote anything here. Sure, I’ve written in my journal (certainly not fit for publication) but little else. My wife, Patty reminded me to review the time since my last post in April, 2016. Full. Our wedding, our honeymoon, three plays, a couple of donkeys, moving, setting up an apartment in Galena, a zebra, considerable work pressures, a trip to Disneyland (Patty thought she was going to have to leave me there), adopting little Puller, a rescue bulldog only to have to give him up a few days later after my intense allergic reaction, time in a Knoxville recording studio (thanks to Patty and son Jon) for Jon and me to finally record “Wagon Wheel” with Patty, Torrie, and grandson Jared singing backup, plus a number of great trips to see my kids and grandkids in Indiana, Canada, Knoxville, and Kansas City. Whew. Okay. I give myself a pass but I admit, I faced a wall.
Writer’s block? Huh. Sounds so asinine (I can never resist anything that sounds like a donkey). One writer called it “creative constipation.” I like that. So I guess this piece could be something of a dose of Ex-Lax for Eloquence. Sorry, I’m a bit rusty or I would tie this directly to the “creative constipation” I just mentioned. Never mind. Writer’s block, according to one online dictionary, is “the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.” Not bad. But that isn’t my case. I have a long list of topics.
Lots of definitions for this condition, which is apparently common and not covered by my PPO. Noodle these.
“Writer’s Block: A consoling phrase to get sympathy from others, who actually don’t give a heck about your editor’s deadlines” by MathPlus August 03, 2016. But I am my own editor. Won’t fly. But I welcome your sympathy, lapsing into pity, most likely.
“Writer’s Block: 1) A period of time when a writer’s mind is completely blank and drained of any kind of inspirational essence. They are unable to write. They start to bang their head against the basement wall. It bleeds. They scream and shout in agony. And finally, they pray that the pain from this blunt physical trauma and the sight of the sweet sweet catalytic blood finally gives them SOME kind of weak-ass idea…a condition that may occur while writing. It causes the person afflicted to be unable to think of what to write next” by Tisteca February 07, 2009. I have not yet bled on my blog. And asses are certainly not weak.
Only one more. I promise.
“Writer’s Block: 1) A period of time where a writer has no inspiration, thought-process, or even the faintest of ideas as to how to start or continue their current work. 2) Hell on earth. A. I have writer’s block. Kill me now. B. I have writer’s block– please just transform me into Icarus so I can fly towards the sun and burn myself alive” by WinterReader0917 April 24, 2017. At least this one makes me smile. I can relate, at least to the part about wanting wings like Icarus.
But for me, it is not “creative constipation” at all really. More like “The Tyranny of the Urgent.”
“The Tyranny of the Urgent” is a little essay written in 1967 by Charles E. Hummel. The gist is this…the “good” is often the enemy of the “best.” Though Mr. Hummel wrote about this dilemma in a spiritual context, it is, I believe a universal truth. “Good” things are often urgent, demanding time and attention, while “important” things often sit in the background with no deadline. Take my inkslinger’s ingot, for example. C’mon. I had to make up something for boring old “writer’s block.” And I tried “wordsmith’s wall.” Nah.
It’s about creative, post-day-job priorities. For me, writing, in any form, is very important. But I have no editor, no deadlines. It just hangs there like my as yet unplayed ukulele (something else important to me). Gnaws in my gut like a guy on Weight Watchers long about 4 pm.
And the good things in my life often come with a time and attention price. For example, I just finished two community theater plays. Lots of deadlines for learning the lines, lots of hours of rehearsals, lots of time performing, lots of time worrying about my lines, lots of time fretting when I loused them up, tinkering with my costumes and props, etc. In short, this good thing I do, acting, becomes URGENT. It’s consuming.
There are other good things grabbing my attention…leading a DivorceCare support group is one example. Prep time, group time, etc. Joined a charity group that visits children’s hospitals while performing as the Green Hornet. All good things with urgency of deadlines.
Nothing wrong with these, I love to do them, but they easily keep me from the best, what is most IMPORTANT to me. So what else is important to me? Relationships with those closest to me, my wife, my kids, and my grandkids. No deadlines. No urgency. Just important things that can easily be crowded out by “the tyranny of the urgent.” I like the concept of “tyranny” applied here, too.
Bottom line to all this? Priorities. Last January 1st, I sat in a Lake Geneva cottage and created my list for 2017. It’s shown here somewhere. Yes, on January 1st I donned my swimming gear and jumped right into Lake Geneva, rejoining the Polar Bear Club after a hiatus of a couple of decades. It was still cold. Let’s see. Polar bear, check. Losing weight (30 lbs. since February), check. Serious theatrical role, check. Registered for three upcoming 5Ks, check. Not bad all in all. I’m encouraged.
You figured out my strategy, right? Bust through writer’s block by writing about writer’s block. Yep, but with a plan. Having just finished four three-hour play rehearsals a week, I’m used to a certain schedule. I’m going to try to set aside every Thursday after work to write, even if it’s about writer’s block. Just for a couple of hours.
And I’m re-thinking my blog structure a bit. In the past, I’ve made these rascals way too long, and then wait months to sit down again. Shorter now. A series of blogs on one topic if I need to do that. Start aiming at the important for a change. I am a writer. One with a long list of ideas and even some notes. And in the not-so-immortal words of Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky III, “I gotta whole lotta mo.”
Thursday night, write.