After the poetry marathon, after writing one poem a day during the month of July, I thought I’d feel a sudden sort of relief. From the constant preoccupation to produce, from guiltily stealing time away from my family to indulge myself, from evenings spent annoyed with myself and utter lack of craft that my poems weren’t poeming – eyes blurred with dull fatigue of full days at work, from the nagging insistence of finding wireless service while on the road, always knowing there was ONE thing that needed doing…
I thought I’d be carefree. Dressed in white all sun splashed at a white-sand beach with quiet laughter and softened photo retouching. But, as it turns out, my life in August has not been a feminine hygiene commercial. I have spent much of the last three days wandering around after work looking for something to do, anything to get absorbed in. I read the new 30/30 poems up at Tupelo Press . A little obsessively. I’ve read every posting on Facebook enough to finally get disenchanted by it. I try watching TV to get distracted. Nothing helps.
I think that this suffering is the universe is telling me to hold mySELF accountable for my own daily writing practice. It used to be, I’d wait for a good four hour chunk of time all to myself to binge write or search for likely places to send my work. It felt like I was doing it all wrong….but I think I could do a little each day under less than ideal conditions. And if I’m not going to write, I can be revising, or submitting.
I tell my clients to break things down if the end goal seems too overwhelming or paralyzing. To set aside the big picture and the “should do’s” and to nibble away at some of the “could do’s”, to set a time limit if that’s easier to manage than expecting yourself to complete one task at a time. It’s how I got through my dissertation…I’d do the item on my list that made me least want to vomit, and the next one, and the next one for as long as it took for my daughter to watch two movies every Saturday afternoon until it was done.
The big difference here, between my dissertation, the poetry marathon, or even last year’s haiku a day commitment, is that no one is counting on me to keep up on my daily writing practice. There’s no accountability other than my own intentions. I think this may be my biggest challenge yet.
What sorts of internal commitments have you made and kept? What helped YOU keep on keeping on?