I am sitting here at my desk. My hands are freezing cold. I have the heater on full power mode. I know I should work on editing one of the seven unfinished novels sitting in limbo on my computer. But I spend yet another morning trying to avoid the work. I send a few text messages. I read from one of the many novels I am always buying. I check the headline news on a few websites. I go to a few music websites and see who is hanging out there. Kanye West is out of the hospital. Who cares.
Why can’t I do the work? What is it that is wrong with me? Last night I watched a documentary about the avant-garde composer Phillip Glass. He said that he has no secrets except for one. His one secret is that you wake up early in the morning and get to work and then work all day. That is it. His only secret. Show up and do the work. Beyond this he seems to have no idea what he is doing. He just shows up to do the work and the ideas come. Why do I struggle to do the work? What is wrong with me? Why do I not have that kind of discipline floating around inside me? Is it because of growing up with a mother and father who were continually giving me negative feedback? Could that be the root of it? Maybe.
I just went and ordered yet another book on Amazon Prime. Why did I need to go and order another book? I have a library filled with unread books. I would rather sit in a chair and read other people’s books than do the work that it takes to finish writing my own books. Why? Because reading is fun and writing is hard. I would rather write these brief essays and post them on my various blogs, than commit myself to the work that it would take to finish one of my seven unfinished novels. I would rather go sit in my garden, on my meditation cushion or listen to one of my many records than do the work that it would take to be a published novelist.
Why do I have such an aversion to work? Just a moment please, I need to go look something up on the internet. Found it. There is this part that I like from one of Allen Ginsberg’s poems called The Fall of America:
Well, while I am here I’ll do the work-
and what’s the Work?
To ease the pain of living.
Everything else, drunken
Everything else, drunken dumbshow. Indeed. I can see how spending my days just working on finishing my novels could ease the pain of living. It focuses the mind. It gives a person a deeper purpose and direction. It shuts out all the riff raff. But still I struggle to stay out of the drunken dumbshow. I get caught up in doing this and that. Being preoccupied by this and that. Wanting to go here and there. One big drunken dumbshow. I know this about myself yet it is so difficult for me to sit down and do the work for longer periods of time. I can do the work here and there but my working schedule is more like a cut up or collage than it is a steady growing thing. It seems that I prefer sitting in a chair and staring off into space over doing the work. This is not how great literary careers are made.
I am too easily tempted by the easier things. The simpler pleasures. The kind of pleasures that do not take too long to create. The book. The shopping mall. The café. The social media page. The restaurant. The room filled with friends. The dog park. The bike ride. The record collection. The movies. The magazine. The park bench. I am too easily pulled into these things. Isn’t this what laziness ultimately is? To be easily tempted by the simpler pleasures? The older we grow the harder it becomes to turn the brain away from these simpler pleasures. We feel like we have already struggled through enough of life and now it is time for leisure. Few older people still want to do the work. The energy is no longer there. They have come to terms with their nothingness that that is ok with them. Golf anyone? I find this to be a trap that is much too easy for me to fall in.
As I write this I don’t want to work. I should spend my day editing one of my seven unfinished novels. I should commit to doing this because being a novelist is still (for whatever reason) important to me. I have tried through endless amounts of meditation, brain manipulations and various other preoccupations to no longer want to write novels. Just give it up, I tell myself again and again. I have tried to let go of the desire to be a novelist in the same way that someone would release a balloon. But it doesn’t work. All efforts have failed. This need to write persists. Maybe it is true what Barbara Payton said about how who we are and what we do is written in a little black book in heaven and there is no getting out of it. It is all already written down. Shit.
I must do the work. I need to do the work. I can’t escape the work. Not as long as I am able to still do the work. But I crave the drunken dumbshow. I find the drunken dumbshow much easier to engage in than sitting alone at my desk all day and working hard at something that I do not know if anyone will ever read. At least things happen in the drunken dumbshow. Fun things! When a writer spends endless hours working on a literary work, nothing happens. Nothing but the various machinations going on within her or his brain.
I realize that I am rambling on here. What the hell is my point? Maybe I should just delete what I have written here. I am just going off on various tangents. All I am doing now is avoiding the work I need to do by writing about how I am avoiding doing the work. How about that? I have found a way to avoid writing by writing about it! Come to think of it- all the thousands of entries on my various blogs are all attempts to avoid doing the work I really need to be doing (like eating snacks instead of full meals). I am going to stop writing now and get to work on finishing one of my seven unfinished novels. First I just want to check a few things on-line. Then I need to do some cleaning around my house. Then I should make myself some lunch and read from a novel I would like to finish today. And then