Such a big word for what amounts, in the end, to not very much at all.
You’d think, given how much thought I give to my novel and exegesis when I’m not doing them, that finally having the time to sit down properly would lead to a fury of work, a veritable outpouring of great thoughts.
Instead I sit there unable to get started. I look out the window, get up to put some washing on, make a cup of tea, pat the cat, think about the students I will teach that afternoon, wonder what to cook for dinner, check my emails and so on and so on. I’m sure this is not an unfamiliar story to anyone. And if it is, what are you doing reading this, for goodness sake?
I’m sure anyone who knows me would be surprised at exactly how much time I spend doing not very much at all. I’m always on time, I always do what I say I’m going to do and in a timely fashion. I run a business, have a family, go for runs in the mornings, keep our house and clothes clean, read lots of great books, play with the cat, sing and play piano and all the other stuff that people generally do.
What I’m wondering, then, is if this unable-to-get-started business, particularly after a longish break (here’s looking at you Christmas and trip to Australia!), is normal? Is that what happens to everyone? Do we all stare blankly at walls for a period of time and should I just accept it as part of the creative process?
And here’s a related question.
Why is it that I can sometimes only get started when I have only a small amount of time left to get things done? For me, this is usually the last couple of hours before I start teaching. Once my first music student arrives there’s not a chance I can think about anything else, and after that it’s dinner time and the whole evening routine for my daughter, so really that’s it for the day, unless I can muster the energy to do some work after she’s in bed.
I know it’s all to do with the power of deadlines but it drives me crazy. Sometimes I long to actually be in the same town as my university, to have colleagues going through the same things, seminars to go to and to give, people to meet with and report to.
But things are as they are.
In the meantime, I’ll look out my window again in case anything’s changed (see the photo below for another view of my neighbourhood), and contemplate how things might be different tomorrow morning.