This week I have been wondering why I avoid doing some things and leave others to the very last-minute. It’s not a new phenomenon. My homework was usually handed in on time, but had often been completed early in the morning of the day it was due. When we go on holiday I can still be found wandering the house in my underwear, putting bits and pieces into the cases, five minutes before we are due to leave home.
At the moment, some of the things on my To Do / Should Have Been Done By Now list include:
- Housework: I’m not a fan. I don’t usually clean until I reach the point where I would be embarrassed if a friend unexpectedly knocked on the door for a coffee. I’m now at the ‘do I really want to walk around here barefoot?’ stage. I know – disgusting! There are two obvious answers as to why things have reached this state of affairs. (a) Why would I dust a book when I could be reading it and (b) I’m bone idle.
- Putting the Christmas decorations into the loft. Don’t get me wrong – Christmas was taken down in our house at the appropriate time, but it is all still sat in the front bedroom awaiting attention. Do I not wish to go into the loft? Am I trying to make the festive period last a bit longer? I’ve no idea, but all those boxes and bags have got to go. Also – see answers to point 1 above.
- This blog post. According to my self-imposed schedule, it should have been on-line by Sunday at the latest. I had several ideas in my head, but none of them had inspired me to leap to my keyboard. Also – see answers to point 1 above.
- My current WIP. I am so close to the end. With a bit of concerted effort I could probably have it finished before the weekend. I know where it’s going, I know what I want to happen, I even know the last line. But, instead of writing, I’m editing what has gone before – polishing, cutting, tweaking, juggling. I know that writing is rewriting but, seriously, shouldn’t I get to the end first? And the answers to point 1 above may have something to do with it.
I was recently talking with a friend about my reluctance to get to the end of my story. I said maybe I was afraid to send it out into the world because, all the while it stays with me, no one has rejected it. A bit like the Lotto ticket you keep in your handbag for weeks because, until you check the numbers there is still the possibility that it’s a winner. She is a psychologist and had a slightly different take on it. She believes that often the thing we are most scared of is success: of getting the thing that we want more than anything else. Because, what do we have to dream about if we get our heart’s desire? Will we still be the same person if we reach our goal? What will people expect of us once we are successful?
None of us like rejection, but I do think she may have a point. There is a huge difference between being an unpublished, unagented writer and being a published author with a book to promote. Is fear of taking that next step stopping me from writing? That sounds really big-headed. After all, statistically I’m far more likely to be rejected than accepted by an agent or publisher.
Perhaps the truth is a combination of fear of failure and fear of success. And, then too, there are just too many books for this bone-idle wannabe author to read before she puts pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and writes ‘The End’.