Procrastination as a Rarefied Art Form
A brief excerpt from my new humorous memoir,
coming out this fall:
I can’t speak for all blocked writers, but when I’m blocked, I seek out conflict with people and institutions, and I channel my creative tension into distractions, raising my procrastination from writing to a rarefied art form. Over the past 25 years as a writer, I have manifested my writer’s block in countless ways. I have taken day-long, meandering car rides, and, if another driver’s driving has annoyed me, I have followed that person for hours, across state lines in some cases. I have researched pencils, going so far as to investigate what became of the lead formulas of superior brands that no longer exist.
I have visited my library’s used book sale and stolen back books that I donated because they didn’t put the books in their collection like I asked them to. I have also stolen copies of my own books from library used book sales, when I’ve discovered they were copies I inscribed to specific readers, and the readers hadn’t valued them. I have started national campaigns to boycott candy bar companies when they changed their packaging from traditional paper and foil to Mylar. I have written rants on social media websites, about politics or American history or English grammar, or sometimes about social media itself. I have written letters to the editors of daily newspapers, or pretended to be a college student and written satirical pieces for college newspapers. I have savored afternoons drinking beer in bars with names like “Hurricane” and “Ice House,” flirting with attractive female bartenders, watching soccer (which I loathe) and correcting the grammar of men who speak rudely to the waitresses. I have feuded with a local thrift store because they refused to exchange a $3 denim shirt I’d bought that didn’t fit me.
I have called the office of Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman and argued with his underlings about his policies, even though I am not now, nor have I ever been, a resident of Connecticut. I have invented an alter-ego, Dakota Perez, and persuaded small-town journalists to write articles about “my” exploits.
The German Christian theologian and philosopher Meister Eckhart said that God gives to each one of us what is best for him. I believe this is why God has not given me a silver Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, nor a bourbon-drinking 25-year-old mistress in the form of “red-headed, deep-breasted, slender and indolent” Clarissa from John Cheever’s story “The Chaste Clarissa.”
God knows that neither the Aston Martin’s 568 b.h.p., nor the deep-breasted redhead reclining languorously in the passenger seat with a bottle of Maker’s Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon in her lap would be best for me. Not at all.
And if I had writer’s block at the same time? Forget about it. I wouldn’t self-destruct; I would spontaneously combust.