It’s been a week since I have written anything. I always look for excuses not to write. Trigonometry is a good excuse.
I have mentioned before how I am teaching myself the math I avoided learning in high school. For the past week, I grappled with the basics of Trigonometry. Even though learning is fun, I still resist learning new things—especially the math I hated in high school. I wanted to quit because I was not understanding the concepts, but I kept grappling. And finally, I got it!
Wow! I understood! I understood! I understood sines, cosines, and tangents. I understood cosecants, secants and cotangents. I understood how the Greek letter Theta (zero with a line through the middle) represents the degrees of an angle. I understood!
What a natural high finally understanding Trigonometry, and solving Trigonometry problems! If they ever make Trigonometry illegal, then I’ll get arrested for sure.
I’m like a child who has just learned to walk on his or her hind legs. I’m stomping around laughing and enjoying my new-found power!
So there’s my excuse for not writing: I was learning Trigonometry. Deep down, I know that I still could have written while learning Trigonometry. But please allow me to fool myself into thinking that learning Trigonometry took all my energy, and I had none left to write. Thanks.
I want to learn everything, but hold back doing so. Part of me feels safe with the knowledge I have. This part is afraid of change. If I let this part rule me, then I would not be learning how to factor polynomials, and solving equations and inequations.
It’s like my relationship with writing. I resist writing, but love doing so once I start. I resist learning new things, but love doing so once I start. And after I start writing and learning, I always think, “Look how much fun this is! Why did I procrastinate?
You would think that I would remember that writing and learning are fun. You would think that I would remember that I rob myself of pleasure when I procrastinate. You would think that I would remember that my thoughts about how painful writing and learning will be are always false. But I don’t remember. I resist and make excuses for not writing, and not learning before I actually start to write and start to learn.
Too bad I wasn’t married. I could blame my wife for my irrational behavior instead of having to take responsibility for it.
I am working on a writing project and find it challenging to write blogs and work on the other project. Some days, as you can see, are blog less.
What is this other project? I won’t say. The creative energy needed for writing drains away when I talk about what I am working on. Besides, I am a private person.
“Ha!” some say. “Look at all the personal stuff you’ve blogged about,”
True, I have revealed many personal things in my blogs. But I carefully select what I feel comfortable revealing. And often I am writing for therapeutic reasons, and feel that the healing outweighs my need for privacy.
Still, I am basically a private person. Some stuff about me the world may never know.
What do you write about when you don’t know what to write about? You just start writing and something will come out.
Perhaps what wants to be written won’t come out because of all the noise in the library. I have blogged about how libraries are no longer places of silence. I wear earplugs, but I can still hear talking and laughing and cell phone conversations.
I wish libraries had Silent Zones. In these Silent Zones, there would be no talking, no laughing, no cell phone conversations. A Silent Zone means exactly that—SILENCE. And Silent Zones would be strictly enforced. People talking, laughing or using cell phone would be hanged. But if that is too harsh, then they would have to leave the Silent Zone for the rest of the day.
Lots of people are afraid of silence. They must have a radio, music or televisions on all the time.
The fear of silence is called Sedatephobia. Sedate is from the Greek for silent or sleeping or dead. Phobia is from Phobos, the Greek God of fear.
I have used the word phobia a lot. I never knew that it came from the Greek God of fear. The Roman equivalent is Timor. Now I know where timid came from.
I should be grateful for the noisy people at the library. If it wasn’t for them, then I would never have looked up the fear of silence. I may never have learned about Sedatephobia, Phobos, and Timor.
Now . . . what shall I write about?
It’s been 11 days since my last blog. I feel as if I have forgotten how.
“It’s simple. Take baby steps. Write one word after another.”
But I don’t feel like it.
“The best time to do something is when you don’t feel like doing it. Doing it makes you feel like doing it.”
But I still don’t feel like writing.
I am, but I’m afraid because I’m not sure where I’m going.
“Feel your fear while you follow the words.”
I think this is it. No more words to follow.
“Not bad for someone who didn’t feel like writing.”
But what I wrote is not all that good.
“Perhaps, but it is more important to do than to do well.”
I am not sure what I want to pick up as I wander in the place that keeps ideas. This place always has tons and tons of ideas and often it is hard to choose. Of course I want to make a choice where the writing flows from the chosen idea.
Which idea will make the writing easy? A childhood memory? An adult memory? A political opinion? A spiritual opinion. Nothing is flowing so far as I look at these ideas. Well, it’s not that nothing is flowing. It’s just that I haven’t the online time today to explore these ideas and make the writing flow.
Oh well, at least I wrote something.
Once upon a time there was a story that wanted someone to tell it. Being told was the story’s reason for existing. If no one would tell it, then what was the point of being a story?
“How can I get myself told?” thought the story. “I know, I’ll check for a course on how a story gets itself told.”
The story checked all the university and college’s catalogs for a course on what a story needs to do to get told. It saw lots of courses for people on how to write stories, but no courses for stories on how to get themselves told.
Soon the story became depressed. It wanted to see a therapist, but therapists only treat depressed people and not depressed stories.
And so the story moped and moped, but still it hoped.
“I hope that one day someone will discover me,” thought the story. “I hope that one day someone tell me to the world! But I won’t let not being told stop me from being happy.”
With those thoughts, the story saved itself and stopped moping. It existed happily ever after.
I do not remember whether I read about this writing exercise, whether someone told me about it, or it came from the voices in my head. The point is to pick a word at random, and write about that word and the ideas it generates.
I fan the pages of a dictionary, and randomly select gas. Since I am a seven-year-old trapped in a man’s body, I immediately think of farting. (Snicker. Snicker.)
We were not allowed to say “fart” in our house. My mother did not like that word. Instead of fart, we had to use the word “bop.”
“Ewwwww Mommy, Daddy did a bop!”
Mom said that “fart” was a bad word. This caused some confusion because it wasn’t a bad word in my friends’ houses. I thought bad words were universal. Apparently not.
If Mom did not like the word fart, then you can imagine how she felt about shit, piss and fuck. Taboo! Taboo! Taboo!
In my mother’s 80 years on this planet, I only heard her swear once. She said “shit.” I don’t remember what she said, but shit was in her sentence. I was in my teens and had done something to anger her. I remember feeling shocked and proud and the same time. How shocking to hear Mom swear, and proud that I was the only who caused her to do so. It only happened once.
My father never swore in front of us when we were young. His restraint lessened as we got older. He used shit, bullshit and goddamn occasionally. The one he used all the time was “Jesus Christ!” Dad was an atheist, but he certainly loved calling on the Lord.
Whenever Mom talked about Dad calling on the Lord, she said, “Your father said, ‘Cheese and rice.’ ” She would use that euphemism, too, especially when she watched the Toronto Blue Jays lose a baseball game.
Now I stop and look back over what I have written. Wow! All that because I took a dictionary and randomly selected the word gas.
Where to? What next? I don’t know. I sit down now and start writing not sure where I will end up. That makes writing simultaneously exciting and scary. Facing a blank page is facing the unknown, and the unknown is exciting and scary.
I have a love/hate relationship with the unknown. Well, it is not exactly love and hate. I love the excitement and surprise of not knowing, but I don’t love the not knowing. I would not call it hate.
What a paradox! I love being excited and surprised by the unknown, but I don’t love not knowing when the unknown is going to excite and surprise me. There is no excitement and surprise if I know when the unknown is going to excite and surprise me. Still, the fear of not knowing is strong, and I want to lose it by knowing.
Most of the time—at least I want to believe it’s most of the time—I force myself to write regardless of the fear of the unknown. Sometimes I allow the fear to cause me come up with excuses for not writing. I never feel good about myself when I do this.
I did not come up with an excuse today. I sat down with no clue of what I was going to write and faced the unknown. What fun discovering the where to? and the what next? I am looking forward and not looking forward to doing so tomorrow.
This afternoon when I should have been writing, I read from a book about Samuel Taylor Coleridge (October 21, 1772 – July 25, 1834). The book is a brief introduction to his work and life. I read that he procrastinated with his writing and would often use reading books as an excuse. Oh, the irony! Of course his opium addiction did not help. His procrastination caused him to leave a lot of his literary work unfinished.
Coleridge is not the only writer to put off writing. Douglas Adams, Margaret Atwood, Victor Hugo, Samuel Johnson, Herman Melville are a few. There are more.
I don’t like it when people make comments about writing not being work. “When are you going to get a real job?” they say. Writing is work, hard emotional work. When you write you have to face yourself and go to those deep dark places of your psyche. They are hard to face, and that is one of the reasons for procrastination. I feel good when I finally face them, and write about them. Writing is therapy, and I have masochistic tendencies.
There are still dark places that I am not ready to face. Sometimes I have tried, when I wasn’t ready, and felt overwhelmed. I had to stop. But I know I will face them eventually.
Now to get back to reading . . .
“Procrastinate now, don’t put it off.”
– Ellen DeGeneres