Time: 4:06 p.m.
Music: “Fading Stars I” | D_rradio
I’ve never been one for time-consuming projects. This is, admittedly, a nicer way of saying that things that take more than 15 minutes frighten me into a lazy stupor.
Being that I’m still unemployed with zero prospects (even a church-owned coffee shop won’t return my calls–though, given my recent series, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised), I find myself at home with loads of open time. In many ways, this is what I’ve been longing for: the uninterrupted time to write and finish revising the book. Last summer I was in the same predicament, but I still had one more year of my degree to look ahead to, not to mention I was being paid through a Summer Fellowship. I was officially, a “professional” in that I was being paid to write. So, the writing came easy (once I battled the demon of Acedia–something I didn’t even know existed at the time).
Now, I’m not being paid to write. However, it seems the list of people who are very very interested in the book grows longer everyday. I don’t know how many times in the last month I’ve been pulled into a dark corner at a party and more or less been threatened to hand over the book. It’s extremely flattering, and reinforces the idea that I’m not talking to myself with all of this (this=the book; this=the blog; this=my life).
Even though I can say proudly that I’m being “compensated” via external validation, it can often add more pressure to the fact that I need to deliver the damn thing. I’ve always considered myself a great beginner–a virtuoso of inception, even. When my brain fixates on something, whether it be a book or the butterfly stroke, it doesn’t take long before I’ve replicated some semblance of creating that act. It draws attention and a few hearty pats on the shoulder, but then I reach a point where I need to take another step forward. This is when coffee breaks happen a lot more often, and I begin reading a number of dense books in order to pad myself in brain jail.*
I mentioned in L to an IC #2 this idea of ‘chronic guilt.’ Call it a romanticized self-diagnosis, but I’ve been thinking about it a lot. By this point in the writing process, I’ve reflected on my experience enough to realize that guilt played an enormous role in the shaping of my ideas of faith. In the last year, I’ve proactively started to diffuse this guilt, in terms of how I view spirituality and the life of faith, but now I’m starting to think that it has its barbs in more than my religious hard-wiring. For instance, I’m viewing the side writing projects I’ve undertaken lately as helpful deviations to bring perspective on the desert-phase of revision. But when I stop and take that thought through a little more, I think about how it could be just another fearful, avoidance tactic. I’ve realized something is important and bigger than my own measly existence, and so the pressure to make it reach those heights makes me feel, well, measly.
Then, I think about how I just need to buck up and do it. And then it’s 4:45, and I need to start making dinner. So, I feel guilty for wasting my unemployed time.
What is the difference between excuses and resolution? How am I supposed to know when I’m avoiding something, or simply just going through the human process of trial and error?
A possible answer lies again with that out-of-fashion word, “acedia.” Kathleen Norris points out that it is a tough-to-define spirit-based combo of deep laziness and depression. Interestingly, it was considered by monks to be one of “eight bad thoughts” that interrupted valuable work. It was soon chopped from that list and replaced with ‘sloth’ in a list renamed the “seven deadly sins.”
Now: how can I keep my thoughts from making a deadly conversion?
*I’ve also been known to start a blog.