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What we're not writing


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This is really just a not-so-sneaky way to continue my amazing feats of procrastination, but I'm wondering what the writers out there are working on (or avoiding) presently.

I'm closing in on a first draft of my second book for Little, Brown, and right now I'll do anything to not work on it. I hate this feeling of avoiding, and really it makes no sense. I have a contract, I have a deadline, I have a supportive editor---which is a lot more than most writers have, and more than I had around this time last year---so I just. need. to. write.

I spent so many years fantasizing about living the full time writing life. Some days it's just like I imagined, but most days it's like this: a lot of avoidance and getting caught in a wormhole of internet surfing.

So - what are you avoiding?

Sara Zarr

author, person.

sarazarr.com

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What a wonderful idea for a thread! I mean, really, this is the acme of procrastination. I am in awe.

Currently, I am not writing my sample for the Glen Workshop in August. I'm not revising my writing sample for grad school applications. I'm not revising a story about my grandmother's wedding. And I'm certainly not starting anything new.

Furthermore, I'm not revising the stories I've workshopped the last two years at the Glen.

So there.

I am spending inordinate amounts of time helping my wife wade through the morass of an online course system called Jenzabar and playing a computerized Suduko game.

Jesus is not a zombie...I shouldn't have to tell you that.

--Agent Booth, Bones

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I read this book last year by Steven Pressfield, called The War of Art. Your laments remind me of myself (unaccomplished writer) and some of what Pressfield says. Since I am procrastinating too, enjoy his thoughts on an almost mystical force he calls Resistance.

---

The following is a list, in no particular order, of those activities that most commonly elicit Resistance:

1) The pursuit of any calling in writing, painting, music, film, dance, or any creative art, however marginal or unconventional.

2) The launching of any entrepreneurial venture or enterprise, for profit or otherwise.

3) Any diet or health regimen.

4) Any program of spiritual advancement.

5) Any activity whose aim is tighter abdominals.

6) Any course or program designed to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.

7) Education of every kind.

8) Any act of political, moral, or ethical courage, including the decision to change for the better some unworthy pattern of thought or conduct in ourselves.

9) The undertaking of any enterprise or endeavor whose aim is to help others.

10) Any act that entails commitment of the heart. The decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship.

11) The taking of any principled stand in the face of adversity.

In other words, any act that rejeacts immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health, or integrity.

One other thing to add about Pressfield's book. He goes on to list all the characteristics of Resistance, but my favorite is Resistance Is Insidious:

"Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that's what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of s**t."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - Groucho Marx

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*looks at Jason like that*

Here's what I'm not doing:

I've been rather spotty updating Help Desk (my M-F webcomic)

I've been even worse with updating Kernel Panic (My W webcomic)

I've been even yet worse updating Eviscerati.org (My ranty blog about the vagaries of the Computer Industry)

I still need to try to cajole an agent to represent _Pay Me, Bug!_ (a novel I'm trying to sell) while I wait for my rejection letter from Tor

I still need to finish _The Points Between_ (novel in progress)

I still need to finish _Silence Me_ (album in progress)

I still need to remaster _ABCDEffigy_ (first album)

There is at least one other side story I'm writing, as well as another project with two other guys, one of whom is squirming as he reads this post.

On the other hand, I *am* looking for work. While that may *seem* like a good excuse, looking for work involves about an hour or two of frantic activity followed up by hours, if not days, of sitting around looking at paint dry. The only reason I can think that I'm not using that time to finish all those other bullet points is that it's lead-based paint.

edited: er, OK, that deals with more than just writing. Sorry... I got on a roll...

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

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I'm not working on my novel, four years in the nonmaking, or the great idea for the non-fiction book I received three weeks ago.

Instead, I've been fixing up our new house so we can move out of the rent house and actually move into the home that we have been paying a mortgage on for the past four months.

If things go well, I will have all the walls painted by tomorrow evening, and will starting stripping the wood floors on Saturday morning.

After that, it's a simple matter to refinish the floors, tile the kitchen, paint and replace the crown molding, repair and paint the baseboards, stain and install quarter-round molding between the wood floor and the baseboards, install new cabinets and ventilation hood in the kitchen, strip out the old carpeting and padding in my future office space, remove hideous swag lamp from the ceiling in future office space, wallpaper over hideous "woodgrain" fiberglass paneling in office space, install laminate wood flooring over the office subfloor, purchase L-desk to fit cramped office proportions, and throughly clean all rooms and surfaces...

After I finish that project, perhaps I can spend a little more time writing and hanging out on Arts and Faith. :D

Edited by TexasWill

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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I get the idea "Resistance" has to do with any activity that doesn't involve sitting on the couch and eating Ho-Hos. ;)

What I'm not doing is working on the same novel I was working on last year, and the year before that, and the year before that. When I don't get done with that, then I can not work on the novel I started during NaNoWrimo last year, and then not work on my high-minded ideas for posting book reviews and other stuff on the blog I haven't updated in months.

And at this moment I'm not doing the work-related web page updating I'm getting paid to do. I'm just getting back to that. Really, I am.

Edited by Crow
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I am not writing the 5-8th grade online Physics curriculum that is my current project to be out by (January? Are you serious?) ...or bug-testing the online ESL course that is just getting SO monotonous. I just keep hearing "her. her. her... him. him. him... them. them. them..." over and over again in my headphones. ESL courses just DON'T work when you already speak the language.

You guys are ever more amusing.

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Its not what I'm not writing (yet--I've a sinking feeling that my attorney will have some writing to add to my plate come Thursday a week from now), but it could be those patents that I'm not reading.

My goodness, they are ever so boring!! I can trace my participation on this board in direct correlation to the point in which I am in the inventorship process, and a prior art search correlates directly to adding a lot of posts to artsandfaith.com with an r-squared of 1.

If you don't know what that gibberish means, you are very, very lucky. :)

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Not writing any of the following-

-Short story I vowed to start working on.

-For my website, reviews of the follow: Good Night, And Good Luck, the Great Raid, Robinson's Gilead, the Thrills' Let's Bottle Bohemia, and a few other things I'm forgetting. This is especially bad because I really, really toil over my reviews, sometimes spending a day to write a few paragraphs.

-Music reviews for the next issue of Go Magazine.

-I've been meaning to work on something for Catapult, but I keep putting it off.

-Update my "writing 'blog," but again-- I keep putting it off.

-Work on the novel that I've been slowly working on for the past half-year.

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A strange article on "Junkspace" for a web-magazine.

A novel called Blackout that I would much rather be working on right now than anything else, but simply don't have the where-with-all or the immediate hope of getting published.

The ultimate shepherd's pie recipe.

A lengthy piece on Resnais that was promised to an illustrious film website that I have never managed to put the finishing touches on.

Edited by MLeary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I keep thinking that I should write song-and-dance, musical-type songs for various small animal characters (bunnies, hedgehogs, etc.).

Wow. You too?

Seriously, this might be the greatest non-writing assignment ever not attempted.

I am currently not writing the biography of Mavis Staples, even though she wants it written, and is willing to work with me on it. This is a woman who has had huge hit records, is a member of the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, and was instrumental in the U.S. Civil Rights movement, working with Dr. Martin Luther King and singing at the Washington Monument on the day of King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech. And no one has written in depth about her amazing life. Someone should do it, even if I don't.

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I'm really impressed with the variety of works people aren't working on.

I am well acquainted with resistance in nearly all of its forms. Part of me would like to kick it to the curb. Part of me would like to enter it willingly and let go. (Can you enter resistance willingly? That sounds oxymoronic.)

On a more serious note, I wonder why it's so difficult for me, us, to receive and nurture this part of who we are---created in the image of the creator, and therefore creative. I know part of it boils down to what Crow said about the couch and Ho-Hos. I enjoy starting new projects, but when it gets difficult (as it always does), I turn into a whiner. But part of it must be darker. That where there would be creation, the enemy would prefer destruction, yes? Ultimately, what is more destructive then *not* doing something? Maybe the fuzzy kitten of procrastination is really the lion seeking to devour. I don't know. OTOH, as we discuss in other areas of this board, there are plenty of things that should not be created in the first place, but I'm guessing that most of what we here are doing probably should.

There's this great Tim Gautreaux story -- "The Pine Oil Writers Conference" -- that addresses this problem. It's in his collection WELDING WITH CHILDREN, and, from what I recall, juxtaposes this skilled writer with soul who lets his laziness, insecurity, and resistance keep him from doing something that might be redemptive, while his somewhat repugnant conference roommate with mediocre talent is cranking out stories and meeting agents and making deals. I need to dig up that story and read it again. It's in issue #24 of Image if you happen to have that sitting around.

Anyhoo. I'm supposed to get to work on my WIP in ten minutes.

Sara Zarr

author, person.

sarazarr.com

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A strange article on "Junkspace" for a web-magazine.

A novel called Blackout that I would much rather be working on right now than anything else, but simply don't have the where-with-all or the immediate hope of getting published.

The ultimate shepherd's pie recipe.

A lengthy piece on Resnais that was promised to an illustrious film website that I have never managed to put the finishing touches on.

MUST.....HAVE.....!!!

[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

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Right now I'm not writing a response to Overstreet's thread about symbolism in film.

EDIT: Ok, ok, I got around to it. Actually this post made me feel guilty.

Edited by tctruffin

Jesus is not a zombie...I shouldn't have to tell you that.

--Agent Booth, Bones

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Oh, gosh:

a) My [screeen]play "Sisterly Love," which in plot form has these two fantastically awesome intersecting ideas I know I won't be able to do justice to when writing it.

B) My other [screen]play, "Greener."

c) My musical, "Untitled Piano Teacher Project." (I've written a couple songs for it, but I don't have a good feel for the story.)

d) My novel, "Never Underestimate a Polar Bear." (This, I am quite confident, I will never finish; I've found I'm simply not a novel writer.)

e) A dozen or so unfinished handbell pieces. (In my defense, however, I've written eight handbell arrangements and compositions so far this year, and two have already been accepted for publication -- pretty fast in my experience.)

f) My choral mass setting, "Mass of Ordinary Celebration." And four or five unfinished choral compositions.

g) The rest of my major handbell work, "The Seven Sacraments Suite." (Sacraments done: one.)

h) Many, many journal entries.

And more I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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Almost forgot--

I've been toying with the idea of making a book full of short stories. I wanted all of them connected. I originally tried writing them on my own, but gave up. Then I tried recruiting a bunch of people to contribute, but this fell through after a few months. I might try doing it all on my own once more. I have so many ideas swirling through my head, though, that I can't get started.

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I'm not writing everyday like WRITERS are supposed to . . . journals, reflections, whatever . . .I'm not.

I'm not working on the screenplay that I've been mulling about for three years.

I'm not rewriting a play that I "finished" five years ago, nor am I resubmitting it as is to another publisher.

I think I'll go do another Sudoku. . .

But then, maybe I'll do a little on the screenplay? N...O....W.

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I finished and turned in the book draft that prompted me to start this thread. Whew. Much prayer involved!

Yeah. I guess we won't be hearing from her again.

I'm not working on anything except

assigned

deadlined

space-filling

unfulfilling stories for the newspaper I work for.

Oh, and my column

which everyone expects to see every Friday whether I have anything worth reading or not

Oh for an assignment to write a book!

After writing for a daily for 14 years, I am incapable of writing anything else.

Wah! Wah! Wah!

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

--T.S. Eliot--
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The ultimate shepherd's pie recipe.

MUST.....HAVE.....!!!

Right now I only know it involves something called "mushroom ketchup" which I have only ever seen here in the UK, and only then very sporadically in more upscale grocery stores. Oh, and carrots.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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thank God! I'm normal. i'm normal, i'm really really normal!!!!!!

not writing:

screenplay "After TAxes"

first solo album "The Bugout"

ministry helps book on free-form urban congregation "Freestyle Fellowship"

it is good to know that like Elijah's time, there are thousands with a like calling and similar battles.

thank you. everyone.

[sigh, swoon, slump, sleep]

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