Disclaimer: This is a stream of consciousness blog. Prepare accordingly.
It’s no secret…I procrastinate. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I am exceptional at it. For example, as I type this blog entry, I have 5 pages open in Windows explorer: Twitter, EBay (so far on this fine Sunday morning I’ve searched for my dream car, a 1968-1969 butternut yellow convertible Chevy Camaro, and used Titleist DCI irons), YouTube (trailer to be mentioned later), Title Nine (bathing suit shopping *ugh*), and Facebook.
I call it multitasking.
And I know that’s bullshit.
I am procrastinating and have been actively for a while now. I have rewrites to do and I haven’t picked up the script since May. Yeah…two months. And how does it feel? I am this close (hand gesture of about an inch) to pulling an Arthur Dimmesdale any minute now…ok maybe self-flagellation is a little extreme and I am in no way leaning towards carving a big letter “P” on my chest, but I am very disappointed in myself. I walk around with my script, I glance at the pretty red comments that perfectly contrast with the soothing yellow Post Its that adorn it. But I move on to something else, anything else that catches my eye…”oooh look, something shiny!”
While the power was out last weekend, I read a lot. It wasn’t quality reading, in that I find that when the power is out, you all of a sudden enter survival mode and it’s difficult to really concentrate on anything. Does this happen to anyone else out there? The rain pelts the windows and you hear it transform into hail, then the lightening crashes with almost simultaneous thunder (that’s how you know Mother Nature’s hissy fit is right on top of you) and the dogs freak out and the cat (the only sane one in the bunch) high-tails it to the lowest point in the house…basement, back corner, underneath the old dresser, repeating to himself, “Who cares about the cobwebs and dead spiders ‘cause you’re a cat and you can deal with that just as long as the thing that’s making the terrifying noise and light can’t get you.” And then…..you hear it. Power going out makes a plethora of sounds: the lights click off, all of the electronics in your home emit “death beeps”, the air conditioner sighs into silence. And after you wait an obligatory 5 minutes just in case it’s a tease, you enter survival mode. Find the flashlights, close off the basement (you will be living down there later), call PEPCO to report the outage, DON’T TOUCH THE REFRIGERATOR YOU’LL GET ICE IN THE MORNING! Once everyone has calmed down, you sleep and hope you’ll be awakened by “life beeps” from all of the electronics that are now dead. But, you awake instead because you’re sweating due to the 90+ degree heat. You have to get moving because not only you will be in survival mode, all of Montgomery County will be. You hop in the car on the quest for bags of ice and food you don’t need and batteries you will plow through. Oh and this time apparently gas was going to be in short supply because the lines at the gas stations were reminiscent of a 1970s oil crisis…
Service station in Maryland, June 15, 1979
Library of Congress
Ok so survival mode. Once all the food is on ice and the little portable lights are stocked with fresh Duracels and you’re sweating profusely due to the aforementioned activity, you sit and read. I know I know…perfect time to write, right??? Apparently not, because I am PROCRASTINATING. (See…I brought it back around, oh ye of little faith.) I pick up a book that I had bought at Barnes and Nobel a while ago but never read (there are a LOT of those in this house) entitled “It Chooses You” by Miranda July.
‘It Chooses You’
Miranda July (2011)
Miranda July is a writer, artist, and filmmaker whose works are very unique and as an artist is somewhat controversial. There are Miranda July haters apparently, and I don’t understand their vehemence, other than they are jealous of her success. She creates whatever…and I like that. “It Chooses You” documents a project born of Miranda’s procrastination which at first had no connection to the screenplay (entitled The Future) she was avoiding, then in the end provided the very essence (in the form of an elderly man she interviewed) of the film she eventually completed. The lesson I took away was very powerful. Procrastination has purpose. As an artist, you have to work through it. It’s tough because there is a lot of self-loathing involved (and it’s not like I’m looking for more reasons to add to THAT list). But that is the nature of the beast, and it forces you to deal and act to create. And from it good, and sometimes awesome, can come. Procrastination is almost…essential.
The following is an excerpt from “It Chooses you” that I particularly liked. When I say that, it means “dang I wish I wrote this!” The author laments the temptations writers struggle with, specifically the pull of the internet and its ability to suck time away and preoccupy one from writing. I read this and know I am not alone. I find I am reading it often.
The funny thing about my procrastination was that I was almost done with the screenplay. I was like a person who had fought dragons and lost limbs and crawled through swamps and now, finally, the castle was visible. I could see tiny children waving flags on the balcony; all I had to do was walk across a field to get to them. But all of a sudden I was very, very sleepy. And the children couldn’t believe their eyes as I folded down on my knees and fell to the ground face-first, with my eyes open. Motionless, I watched ants hurry in and out of a hole and I knew standing up again would be a thousand times harder than the dragon or the swamp and so I did not even try. I just clicked on one thing after another.
– Miranda July, Excerpt from “It Chooses You” (2011)
Today, limbless, I plan on pulling myself off the ground, castle in sight…after I go buy some new golf clubs.
More about “The Future”, a film by Miranda July: