I sit down and open up the file of my most recent manuscript/project. I scan through the pages until I find where I last left off. And then I stare… and stare a little more at the blinking cursor. Every time an idea pops into my head it falls flat and I feel the niggling urge to ignore the project. I’ll come back later, I tell myself. Vynasha and her journey through the forbidden Wyld mountains can wait. I’m sure she would love to get to the castle instead of freezing out in a blizzard while being hunted by possessed wolves. Unfortunately for my title character, I continue to find more reasons to leave her hanging in the cold, just a little while longer.
But the golden rule of procrastination is not running away, or even blatant avoidance, its stupidity. Yep, that’s what I said. When I think back on my life, and let’s just say it’s not even half as long as some folks out there, I wonder just how much precious time I’ve wasted.
Henry Wadsworth (poor guy) Longfellow once wrote, “Art is long, and Time is fleeting; And our hearts, though stout and brave; Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave…” Some people are under the impression that life is indeed fleeting. We wither away like flowers in spring in the grand scheme of things. I tend to agree with this maudlin sentiment, but it isn’t comforting. No one under a certain age wants to think about the fact we aren’t immortal. One day we will all die and we will have to face up to the sorry truth. What did we do with our lives? Did we make our mark? Did we make it count? Or are we just another fading flower?
Some believe in making each and every moment count and express that philosophy in a variety of interesting ways. But when I look at my life, while I want to make every moment count, I tend to waste away. And truthfully, I don’t wake up every day saying, “Better live it up, Jenn, ‘cause today could be your last!” Like most of the world, I go through my routine. I eat, work, sleep, and let’s not even mention the gory details. At the end of the day I like to feel like I’ve accomplished something. So it’s always a killjoy when I settle in for the night and that old sinking feeling settles in. It’s that voice in the back of my mind, reminding me of all the things I could have done instead of watching back-to-back reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I can see my list of failures written in pasty chalk on that old green chalk board, spelling the “could have’s” and “should have’s”.
Trouble with looking at the things we should have done differently are we also tend to ignore the things blinking in front of us. Like a black line on our desktop, beckoning us to return, to write and create. The great thing about those Buffy marathons and procrastination are they allow us to remember life is about more than making your mark. It’s about the experience, the pitfalls and occasionally vampire slaying. So if you, dear friend, have been feeling pitiful as me lately, hear my words and take heart. Because the only way we can beat the urge to flake is by diving right on in. Start small if you must. Pick one thing to do that you’ve been avoiding lately. For me, that would be revising my upcoming fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Vynasha. For you, it could be the dishes piled in your sink or the laundry stinking up your hamper. And then, once we’re done, let’s watch another episode of Buffy.