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Writing Blocked

April 22, 2013

All the anti-malware programs I had on my computer started fighting with each other last week and in the midst of the melee, nasty little viruses began to creep in, making a right mess of my laptop. It wouldn't turn on or stay on if it did turn on and I didn't want to bring it back to the Slippery Geek who chewed me out when I spilled wine on my keyboard last year. So I got a recommendation from a co-worker and on Thursday I brought my laptop to Omni Computers, figuring I'd have it back at the end of the afternoon, or Friday at the latest.

 

I don't know why I thought that.

The boys at Omni told me they'd be done with it on Tuesday.

 

That seemed a long time—a whole weekend without my computer! But I felt confident they could fix it and confident I could make it through that desert stretch of days without it.

 

After all, there's an old laptop at home. True, it doesn't have Windows, but I was able to find and download a free program that works like Windows. I was able to program my printer to work with it. It doesn't have a mechanism for disenabling private browsing, so I can't connect to Netflix, but I was able to find some decent movies online to watch. (I want to have a conversation with someone about whether Liam Neeson in “After. Life” was a psychopathic murderer or a compassionate undertaker. I'm going for the latter if for no other reason that that Liam Neeson is sexy, even as a mortician.)

 

But this clunker of a computer doesn't have two things, two things that I very much need for just about each and every day of my life. It doesn't have my files on it. And it doesn't have Solitaire.

What does this mean?

Essentially, it means I cannot write. 

 

I cannot edit my stories or work on my novel because there are no files to edit. And I cannot write because I cannot interrupt myself to play Solitaire. That's just the way it works. The writing life is a dance of consternation and procrastination. It's a bad dance, but I do it well. It goes like this: First you try to write and you feel blocked or challenged or depressed or clueless or lazy or some combination of things, so you procrastinate by playing a few games of Solitaire. A few games. Only until you win one. Then you've got the victory you need to exit out of Solitaire and try to write some more.

 

But if you're not winning very quickly—which is most of the time--and the minutes are passing like sands through the proverbial hourglass, you begin to feel consternation at yourself and for two different and distinct reasons: 1) You're not winning at Solitaire, you are merely wasting time (as if winning isn't wasting time) and 2: You are not writing which is what you're supposed to be doing and all those rejection letters won't arrive unless you give them a darn good reason to by opening the veins of your soul and letting the ink flow.

So eventually and unaccountably, you have the good sense to exit out of Solitaire, loser that you are, and go back to editing or writing or whatever aspect of wordsmithing you'd set for yourself to do that day.

 

See what I mean? Procrastination + Consternation = Goal Achieved.

 

That's how I wrote my last novel. That's how I write every sermon or short story or column. Do you know how much prosciutto and rosemary crackers I've eaten since I sat down to write this blogpost? Solitaire keeps my weight down.

 

At least I've made it through the weekend and in a few hours I can go to yoga class and try to stop thinking about my laptop. MY laptop. I want it back.And until that happens I am confounded, reduced to doing things like the laundry and abdominal crunches and shampooing my hair and running out to Target for an external hard drive and a pack of playing cards.
In case this ever happens again.

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I'm a writer, yoga teacher, Lutheran pastor, and music nerd living in New York. I find a feast in daily living - most days, anyway - and write about it here. 

Finalist for the 2017 Chautauqua Prize!
The frank and funny story of a church-geek girl who spent twenty years in the ecclesiastical trenches as a Lutheran pastor, preaching weekly words of hope she wasn’t sure she even believed.