Tuesday, September 14, 2010

a dinner party with Disciplina and Necessitas

I still haven't written. Haven't done much with my notes. Haven't reread the two articles I plan to use to introduce my chapter. Haven't pasted notes into a magnificent new outline.

What I will do is this:

Head to the grocery store
Buy a chicken, a lemon or two, some dried figs and nettle tea
Roast the chicken with butter and herbs and potatoes and an onion
Bake a cake and fill it with the figs and lemon
Brew the tea and drink it and breathe

When I have cooked for myself and fed myself and taken care of myself, I will permit myself one hour for dissertation work. No more than one hour. After one hour I will stop. And then I will tell myself, "I have begun."

Thursday, September 9, 2010

replete with excuses

I want motivation, determination, and bravery in a bottle. Take as needed. Now in prescription strength.

I am stalling. I am not working. I am afraid to make progress. I am afraid that I will never make progress. I have devised lovely plans for myself and for my work this semester. Every day I find some reason why I can't start now. Can't start this minute. Can't start today. Tomorrow. Next week. When my dry cleaning is returned. After my doctor appointment. After the weekend. After I hear from my sister. After I've found a better chair. After I've cooked something for dinner. After I've picked up groceries. After I've scheduled the x-ray. After my next workshop. After ...

My goal is five pages every week. This is a very, very doable goal. I could write no more than one page for five mornings and meet my goal. That is such a very small amount of writing! I still have not begun to write.

Sometimes I dream of quitting. I am, quite frankly, a quitter. I simply don't do difficult things. There. I've said it. I could quit, I tell myself in a tone of voice reserved for other naughty suggestions (I could buy a new purse; I could eat a pint of ice cream; I could have a second drink). I could quit and do something easy. Something that would be effortless. Something that would require nothing from me.

I inhale the fragrance of quitting. The minty and zesty top notes of more time and fewer demands reach me first, followed by the watery, floral allure of letting go. These are nearly enough to convince me. The cedary, molassesy, earthy base nudges me out of my reverie. There, at the bottom of the perfume, is the reminder that there is nothing that I can do that will be effortless. Nothing I can do that won't challenge me. Nothing I can do that will require nothing of me. This doesn't inspire me to work but it does remind me of the futility of quitting. I neither work nor quit.

This is how I write chapter two.