“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” –Stephen King

Damn him for making sense. 

Hi.  My name is Danielle.  And I’m a procrastinaholic.

I’ve always had a love/hate/ambivalence relationship with writing.  Love it because I’m good at it, hate it because it’s hard.  Unfortunately, like with many writers who’re “called to the service,” writing’s not a choice for me—it’s a have-to.  I’ve always written because there are stories in my head that throw fits if I don’t at least allow the bones of which to stretch a little in real life on the page, skeletons that need airing-out.  They need to bask in the sunlight and take in some air—it’s how healthy stories develop the antibodies to survive. 

I’ve written since I was a kid (because I liked to and because my family liked the stories), then later as a teenager (because I needed to flex some descriptive/humorous muscle and my teachers liked the stories), continued throughout college (because I realized I had a voice for it, wanted to hone my craft, and my professors and classmates liked the stories).  And even when folks whose opinions I respect haven’t liked the stories, I’ve continued to do so out of a love for the stories themselves.  Also since I realized early on that writers don’t write because they want people to read their stuff (though, of course, that’s the ideal dream because you can’t get richer than God and be more famous than Death WITHOUT having people read it and put themselves into bankruptcy buying your stuff)—writers write because it’s something intrinsic about their natures that compels them to do it. 

(And I just realized that I watch too much TV, because even when I say it, every time I hear/read the word “compel,” I see a maniacal old priest flinging holy water.  And then I giggle because that was one of my favorite lines of the movie.  *ahem* Sorry.  Tangent.)

Lots of writers have written about how hard it is to write, not just because it’s hard to put the words down exactly right but also because it takes a lot of time and mental effort to do it JUST.RIGHT.  (And there’s never a “just right,” so it’s a constant, unachievable goal.)  Of course, non-writers often roll their eyes at this, and I really can’t blame them—I vomit a little in my mouth every time I hear about another celebrity whining about their lack of privacy.  Because having world-wide fame, adoring fans, and boucous of money aren’t enough—they want PRIVACY, too.  Losers…  And the non-writers go, “Of course.  WAAHHH.  Such is your heavy burden to bear,” with great sarcasm and much eye-rolling. 

But I see a difference in the burden here, not just because I AM a writer, but also because writers usually don’t have a choice BUT to write–otherwise, their stories would pester them at all hours, banging incessantly on the door to be let in and drunk-dialing into the wee hours of the night.  Actors, on the other hand, do it for the money and could always get a job at Starbucks.  I think Megan Fox, for example, would make a FABULOUS barista.  Just sayin’.

But no matter how much you enjoy writing, how good you are at it, or how much you need to do it, writers also have one huge thing in common: they PROCRASTINATE.  Because if I got off my butt to do that thing I want to do NOW, to ensure that I actually get it done, then I’d miss my latest TiVoed episode of “House, M.D.” and, people, those Zebra Cakes won’t eat themselves, ok? 

Even as far back as high school, I remember putting off the writing until the last day or so before the story was due.  In college, doing so at 6p the day before, and then staying up until 3 the next morning at the school’s computer lab because the short story I THOUGHT I was going to crank out last minute before my workshop suddenly turned into a T-Rex of a novella, full of characters and situations (all needing background research) that I couldn’t bring myself to leave, so that I wandered into class looking like a meth-addicted hobo with halitosis because I didn’t have time to get home to shower before class.  *sigh* Memories…. 

And then fast-forward to the angst-riddled months in which I was in VA finishing my thesis, the short-story collection that was to be the magnum opus of my college career, where I would vow the night before to work at least 4 hours on my stories, only to spend an hour and half on the porch the next morning in my PJs, stealing the internet from my apartment neighbor, writing until my toes got cold on the concrete, and then wandering back inside to see what was on TV because “holy crap my brain hurts and I need a break”—let’s just say that even though my thesis did get finished (all with frantic, major revisions done the week before it was due), I started my thesis loathing Judge Judy and ended my thesis absolutely riveted.

And now, I’ve done it again—this time I vowed to have some kid stories done for Rynn when she got here and am only halfway through the process.  I also swore to myself that I would be participating in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time and that I would finish (like so many other participants are unable to do).  This is seeming more daunting than it did pre-baby, now that baby showers are getting scheduled and there are holiday trips to Memphis to plan and a nursery mural to procrastinate doing….  But I’m feeling the fever again.  Starting to get that itch to sit at the computer and poke at a story into the wee hours of the night.  And can I tell you a secret?

I LIVE for that itch.

I love it when it rolls around again, however long it was gone.  Because I love the feeling of the words rolling out from underneath your fingers, of realizing that you’re page count is suddenly up 10 pgs. from the last time you checked 5 min. ago, of sitting for 5 min. only to find that you’ve been doing it for 2 hours, of rereading your stuff and being able to identify the really good parts because they sound like someone else wrote them (and you love how that person did it). 

Think I just figured out how I’ll spend my wee hours tonight. 

(And just because I’m suffering from a ridiculous case of Preggo Bladder, no, that does not mean those wee hours.  Pervert.)

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1 Comment

Filed under college life, NaNoWriMo, procrastinating, Writing

One response to ““If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.” –Stephen King

  1. Tonya

    Must be in the air– I’ve been feeling that old itch, myself. Maddening, ain’t it? I have every intention of doing NaNoWriMo this year. Maybe I will actually finish!

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