Thanksgiving, Lateral Productivity (Procrastination), and the Writer

Anyone who’s read a few of my older posts will know that, over the summer, I finished a draft of my mystery, tentatively titled They Called Her La Llorona.

I should be editing that draft. I should be flogging into shape with any form of ink or faux-graphite I can throw it’s way, coating it in sticky notes, holding seances with it to divine its true purpose, making offerings of coffee and bourbon to the writing gods and fickle muses, dancing around my manuscript while I chant my writer’s mantra over and over and over…

Instead, I’ve been channeling all of my “free time,” scrounged in small chunks of minutes and quarter-hours, into PhD applications and “real work,” by which I mean teaching English to freshman and tutoring community college kids. And endless grading.

Usually procrastination is a form of lateral productivity for me; I cheat on one project with another, equally important project. Or, I wash that moldering pile of dishes that’s been crusting over for two weeks. I play with my cat. I spend time with my husband.

But, as a writer who also works full time and occasionally socializes or plays music or does other peopleish things, there is always something competing with my already limited writing time. I’m not sure there’s a way around this competition, not yet anyway. My wacky write-a-draft-each-summer-and-edit-when-you-can scheme is the best plan I’ve come up with in seven years of trying to write and be/do other things.

But I was the kid who never wanted to be just one thing when she grew up. I wanted to be a writer and a singer and an archaeologist and damned if I am not still trying to have it all. Maybe it’s the naivete of youth (I am, after all, in my early twenties and already trying to get into a doctoral program), but I’m still not entirely convinced that I should settle for one thing.

Maybe I’ll burn out. Maybe I won’t.

This year, I’m thankful that I’m still able to keep trying. I’m still in a position where there are so many options and opportunities and I don’t have to settle down with one of them for the next sixty or seventy years.

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