I write about not writing

I am that reluctant writer, that student I fret about.  The one who says he doesn’t know what to write about.  The one who looks for ways to avoid an onerous task.  I don’t sharpen my pencil or go for the water fountain or drop my head on the table.  No.  I walk the dog.  I weed.  I read.  I water the garden. I think of errands I must do immediately.  I shop online for essential items. You know, important stuff: that special dog bowl to keep Farley from eating too fast. 

This morning I try to correct those escapist ways.  I plant myself in a chair and flip open my computer. Then, after cleaning out my inbox, answering an email, and reading a few slices from more disciplined people, I finally open my Google drive.  I click on the folder that I titled “Tuesday slices” back in April.  Only four entries since the end of the March challenge.  I scold myself…gently.  I switch the font to comic sans, hoping that’s the tonic.  

I’ve set myself up on the screen porch.  Farley is here with me.  He whines to go out, but I can’t let him right now.  In spite of his size (70 pounds at six months), he has dug holes along our neighbor’s fence and manages to snake his way under the wires and  into their yard.  An innocent pup, he is undaunted by the presence of the elderly ill-tempered terrier who frankly despises him.  She barks angrily.  The neighbors apologize for Izzy’s rudeness.  They love Farley.  They shower him with affection.  He stands on his hind legs, plops his giant paws on their shoulders, and slurps their faces.  They have offered to trade dogs.  We laugh, but it is awkward that we have a fenced yard and still have to watch our sneaky galoot at all times.  

So, we sit on the porch, the reluctant writer and the penned beast.  Farley chews on his stick for a time, spreading wood chips over the couch and  around the floor.  Then he heads to the door and whines some more.  A long, pained whine. That sound of discontent, not unlike the crying of a  baby or the yawning of a student, sends the tiniest burn up my spine, a twinge of pressure that I don’t want to feel in summer.  I’m agitated now.  It’s a sunny summer day, one I’ve longed for during this busy spring, and Farley, whose goofiness and exuberance saved us during our sequestration, now does to me what some kids must have been doing to parents throughout our distance learning stretch…and perhaps are doing today.  Voicing their discontent with quarantine and isolation while the adults try to do something we deem essential.

First world problem, I mutter to myself.  Get over yourself.  I realize the truth in this.  Of course I can shut down my computer right now.  I can grab Farley’s leash and head out the door.  All I wanted to do was write for half an hour.  I suppose he’s let me do that.  At least this time I haven’t completely avoided the task.  

Maybe next time I’ll say something important. 

10 thoughts on “I write about not writing

  1. I think you said something important. While some have been super productive during these days, getting those tasks that have been waiting all done and writing more than ever, a lot of us have been slowed down, procrastinating, just thinking about writing. You captured it, also reminding us to just “scold ourselves gently and get over ourselves.” To let ourselves say “at least this time and maybe next time.” However this quarantine has affected us, we aren’t alone in it… and there are good things in the moment. Hope you and Farley enjoyed your walk.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So SPOT ON! I am also that reluctant writer!! In class we tell students to write what they see, notice, feel and think to get the juices flowing. This is a perfect example of a slice hidden in the process. This line captures the pressure- “That sound of discontent, not unlike the crying of a baby or the yawning of a student, sends the tiniest burn up my spine, a twinge of pressure that I don’t want to feel in summer.”

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  3. I think your piece illustrates how capturing a small moment can turn into a meaningful piece of writing. You captured both the frustration of quarantine, the identifying with your students who have nothing to write about, and also have written a love story about your dog. My favorite phrase- sneaky galoot!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love how this piece about not writing is so not about not writing. Bravo, Farley. The answer is always a dog. Always. No matter the problem, a dog makes it better.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It just goes to show you that if we just sit and write something ends up on the paper! I think many have written about not writing — we could compile these posts and have a collection! Not writing is part of being a writer, I say! “the reluctant writer and the penned beast” — love! Thanks for writing AND sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This piece captures the essence of a moment so many of us feel – writers or not, there’s often a push-pull we experience as we try to settle into a task, even if it’s one we usually enjoy. This line is one of my favorites: “So, we sit on the porch, the reluctant writer and the penned beast.” I’m happy you have that beast to keep you company, and to let you know when it is time to get up and play! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

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