Writers Write


I’m having a hard time staying motivated. Last week, the flu struck. Really, I’m not sure it was the flu, but I spent a week in bed. Bacon said I had malaria. If it’s good for George Clooney, it’s good for me. So what if I haven’t been to the Sudan? Couldn’t some wayward mosquito have found its way to Texas? The thing about being sick, when you’re a stay-at-home mom, is no one else can really do your day job. This week has been about crawling out from under stuff.

Then there’s the book. I tabbed the notebook. I have an entirely new subplot. The pages are flagged. The work is a matter of starting at the first pink post-it and working my through to the end. Why is this so hard? Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. There’s no carrot out there luring me to finish. Jane Smiley said (I’m paraphrasing) when she has a hard time getting to work, she thinks about the bills she has to pay, and she’s motivated. The concept of being paid for writing is so distant, it’s laughable. Yet, I’m not ready quit. I can’t even whine about quitting. Someone would say, go ahead. Get a real job. Complaining is risky.

So today, I reach into my bag of tricks. I pretend to have a deadline. I invent a schedule. I set the oven timer and tell myself, “Fifteen minutes. I can do anything for fifteen minutes.” Then I slip on headphones and crank up Bob Dylan. “Don’t think twice. It’s all right.”

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