Best Laid Plans

Water spill

I sit down to write after watering and fertilizing the droopy, yellowing plants. I have been in a bit of a drought myself lately, but rain is in the offing, and today is the day I have promised myself to move from avoidance to the keyboard. I have deliberately left the Internet off so I won’t be tempted to fall down the rabbit hole of email, Facebook, and depressing headlines. I have put five discs in the CD player, hoping to feed myself with music instead of the crackers and tea I obsessively consume to fuel my procrastination and self-doubt. I have set the kitchen timer for just an hour, following the advice of a writing teacher: “Under-commit, over-achieve.”

On my way to the computer, I see that water is streaming from the saucer of the pot I have just doused. It pools on the oak surface before cascading down the bookcase, onto the books and framed pictures— Ally’s 18th birthday party, the professional shots of my daughters at their most beautiful. Only the photo of them as little girls in the bath together remains dry.

Shit. If I catch the spill now, I can prevent the rot and warp of delay. So I mop it up hastily, removing a few books, swiping at the glass protecting my daughters, hoping the water has not seeped into too many hidden places.

Fetching another towel for a final sopping up around the edges, I am tempted to throw in the towel on the morning’s writing. I try to convince myself that the rot and warp of delay, the seeping into hidden places, is the fertilizer of writing. Which it is. But it is also the avoidance that takes me too often into a parched landscape where nothing grows.

So I write this before the timer rings.


Anybody else have days like this? Anybody not have days like this? How do you recover?