By some miracle, I opened up a script in progress I haven’t worked on since Dec. 2020 and turned out a couple of pages after my meditation/yoga today. FadeUp says I’m at 26 pages. I was initally inspired by digging into #MeToo gray area. The women who don’t want to talk about it. The ones who stay silent in order to succeed. I began with the urge to write a small cast comedy about an unfunny topic. The working title, “Pussy Grabs Back” was more unique when I first thought about it. Now I feel that joke has been made. By the time I am finished, the play may already be outdated. Or at least it feels that way. I can’t keep up.
But just for today … I was able to slip into the play for long enough to remember why I love writing plays most of all. I lost all sense of the real outside world for those moments when I was in the scene. In my characters’ heads, writing their words, imagining them walking around in space. What are they doing now? What are they really thinking/feeling in this moment? I don’t need to ask these questions. It is automatic. One moment, I was half-listening to the end of a podcast I played on purpose while I was working because I can’t focus when it is too quiet … when I came back out of the play, two guys I couldn’t place were discussing prime minsters of Turkey. What? When did that start? How did I not notice one podcast episode end and the next introduce itself.
There is such satisfaction in that immersion. In the getting lost in the creation … this is the goal. More time for that.
I love writing poetry because it allows for a sense of completion. My poetry doesn’t try that hard. It’s immediate; honestly just trying to remove the weight from my chest. It gives me something to share with people while my real work, plays they will never read, take years of my life to complete. I like that the poetry can mean something to people who aren’t poets, who aren’t academics or literary scholars. This matters more to me than for the work to be popular.
I’ve considered writing an essay titled “In Praise of the Unpopular.” I may still do it but considering that I’m here groaning about lack of time … I should prioritize.
I don’t mind working. I enjoy all three of my jobs but I always feel like I’m not doing well enough at any of them. And the worst feeling, the one that there’s not enough time in the day to work on my play scripts. I’ve been known to spend hours walking around the house avoiding the work I have to do because I can’t stand the thought of looking at the computer screen for another second.
I spend too much time alone thinking about how I’m working too hard to feel like I’m not making progress.
Unlike my students, I don’t want to be famous. I just want to be considered valuable enough to get one job that won’t kill me to replace the three that certainly will if I keep up this pace for too long. It’s just not smart to be too busy working at low-ish paying jobs to have time to write and market the words that will qualify me for a job that will leave me the time and sanity and head space to write. Follow that?
Unlike my students who often write about the fear of not being successful, I am not afraid. I consider myself successful enough. I raised two amazing independent girls mostly by myself. I went back to school for my MFA. I really do like the work I am doing right now. I have years enough left to write. But I do long for balance. I work hard enough that I deserve to save for retirement like other people. At my age, I shouldn’t be panicking because I don’t have a safety net. I am wise enough not to blame myself for this.
This today from a podcast interview between former surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy and social research scientist Dr. Brene Brown that came out last April – I finally got around to listening to it today. It’s still relevant. I’m still teaching and still feel compelled to do what I can for the collective youth and young adults whose lives I touch. -ag 2/21/21
“When I think about my children; when I think about collective children; when I think about what I worry about for the next generation, It’s actually this:
I worry that we’re not setting our children up to believe in themselves, to recognize their true source of power and self-worth and we’re instead telling them that your value is conditional. It’s based on your ability to acquire a bunch of extra things, it’s based on circumstances.
And if you can’t reach those, if you can’t “succeed,” that means you are less valued and that starts a downward spiral when it comes to loneliness. Because the less secure we feel in our worth, the less likely we are to believe that other people want to hang out with us, the more we start to retreat into our shell.
The insidious thing about loneliness that lasts for a long time is it also chips away at our self-esteem and you come to believe that maybe the reason you are lonely is you are not likeable or you are not loveable. …unless we make a conscious decision to shift something in our culture that tells us what self-worth is defined by then we will continue to lead people to a place where they don’t feel they are enough and that unfortunately is a recipe for loneliness.”Dr. Vivek Murthy on Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, April 2020.