In the back of my house, next to the kitchen, is a nook, separated by a block of cabinets and a little counter, where the kitchen table is supposed to go, in the minds of the people who planned the layout of my weird little apartment. But I decided, when I first moved in, that that was going to be my office. It’s a fair size, has room for bookcases, an outlet, and a big window that looks out over the mountains (and, currently, a construction site next door). It would be a place where work gets done, every day. I’d bustle in, freshly showered, sit my coffee on the corner of the desk, consult my engagement calendar, open my computer and set briskly to work. It was a beautiful fantasy of an entirely fictional, and utterly impossible, me.
How do I know that? Well, I know myself. Also, I moved in, I dumped my desk in there, and all my office boxes, and it’s–been a nook full of boxes. I’ve been doing all my work on the couch, unshowered and unkempt and in the stuff I slept in, with granola bars littering the ground around me and my feet up on the chest that serves as my coffee table. This is not the way you feel professional, efficient, motivated or even as if you’re doing any work at all. This is the position–on your side, propping your chin in your hand, feeling a little greasy–in which it is really easy to surf the Internet, look at porn, stretch a few hours of proofreading into a whole day of it, until there’s no time to get anything else done. Shocking.
I’ve been feeling discombobulated, lately, and grasping at straws.
Getting stuff done occasionally, but mostly not. And feeling,
expectedly, like crap about it. Wallowing in it, because that’s the
easiest thing to do. It was wanting to print things out, to send out to
literary journals–that’s accomplishing something, even if I’m not
actually, you know, writing, as such, right?–and not having a printer
because it’s packed, which got me off my butt yesterday, into my nook,
upending boxes and laying down the rug and sorting through the
detritus. Which is possibly yet another way of putting off having to
actually, you know, write, as such. But it feels a little more like a
positive step in a positive direction, and less like a delaying
tactic. I’m good at delaying tactics, and sometimes poor at spotting
them (which is one of the reasons I’m debating whether yet more grad
school is a brilliant idea, or a brilliant ploy).
The desk is set up, the engagement calendar is sitting neatly to the
side of my laptop, opened to March. I’ve got my discs and paperwork
filed, a stack of junk mail to shred set up next to my shredder, my
book proposal with K.T.’s edits printed out to go over, a big cup of
Sharpies and pens. I am set to rise early, go through my ablutions,
settle in at my desk with something nourishing and bust through my
to-do list like whoa. That will happen just as soon as I remember that
my desk is actually set up now, and if I avert my eyes from the couch,
which looks so comfortable, as I head down the hall in the morning, and
if I can find the ambition, drive, fortitude and self-control I must
have packed in some other set of boxes.