Eater

Mostly I am an eater. Yes, I knit. Yes, I write, but eating is easy. Although I eat to survive, I write to thrive, and I knit in kinship with my mother and sister. But whereas writing and knitting are works in progress, eating I finish every time.

Finishing is not my forté partly because I am highly distractible. When I sit down to write, my fuzzed-with-dust writing room suddenly becomes unacceptable evidence of my spotty hausfrau skills and must be cleaned immediately. The dirty white dog must be bathed at once. The garden centre and its sea of jaunty pirate petunias and delicate herbs kidnaps me. Knitting magazines filled with newer and better projects lead me like a sheepdog down the road to softer, woolier pastures.

PiratePetunias
Pirate petunias

Finishing takes discipline and focus. Finishing means rows and rows of repetitive knitting. Finishing a writing project means rereading, rewriting, rearranging, tossing hours, days, and years of work whereas finishing a bowl of ice cream isn’t a matter of hunger; it’s a matter of glands. Finishing is hard. Gonads are involved. I don’t have writing gonads.

Finishing comes in a wheelbarrow loaded with bricks of despair. The story sucks. The sweater looks like a sheep shat on it. Dinner, however, is good.

I do on-line writing courses to keep my pen on the paper. It works but then I’m left with a bunch of rough drafts requiring belabouring so I take another course. This is like going to the buffet table at one of those all-you-can-eat joints. The waiter removes your dirty plate. You stand up, sling your stretch pants lower on your hips testing the strength of the spandex, pick up a fresh, hot-out-of-the-dishwasher plate and load up on potato salad, samosas, and beef with garlic black bean sauce.

How I love a clean plate.

I’m trying a new writing strategy. I signed on with a poetry mentor – Caroline Goodwin. My husband/editor was miffed but since I’m paying for the privilege, I’ll show up. I picked poetry because I believe I can finish a poem. If I were a hockey player and scored as many goals as I finished stories and essays, I’d be playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Clearly I need a coach. I’m hoping this mentor thing will encourage me to practice every day; remind me that writing is not a means to an end but the end – period. Everything else is gravy and stuffing and fresh blackberry pie hot out of the oven.

Know what? Something did happen when I had a conversation with my new mentor. She said it was okay to have fun. In the last year as I tried to sell my words, I felt like one of those kids pedaling an ice cream cart, tuneless bells clingling and announcing my presence. Even though I love ice cream, I hated selling it.

The best rejection letter came with an invitation from the editor who read my essay “God is a good kisser” and suggested I submit something on a similar theme with a slightly different slant. I was excited for a few minutes then thought “But I don’t want to write about that. I already said what I wanted.”

IMG_7382
UFOs

Thank God writing is not how I make a living. I make a middling living as an administrative underling. It occurs to me that I’m middling because I’m not a good finisher. Slogging through the boring stuff, knitting rows and rows and rows of stockinette stitch is necessary to succeed. Writing on demand and agreeing with the editors/bosses who dictate the work is necessary to succeed. This is hard, and I do not seek to do hard things.

I am an average employee on my best days and a cranky one on my worst. I am not celebrating this fact but it does relate to writing and success. If I write with the goal of publishing – a measurement of success – it becomes a grind. It might as well be work. If I write what I love, it isn’t hard. And really, the truth is – here’s the moment you gaze with me into my lint filled navel – I’m lazy.

Neil Gaiman says finish what you start. That’s what makes you a writer. Others say “write what you know”. Well, hell. I know I’m a good eater. Susanne Fletcher – Eater, plate licker, buffet lover. It has a good ring to it, eh?

This week’s post was inspired by three other bloggers’ posts:

Writing on the pages of life – Rosanna C. Rogacion
Little old lady who – Cynthia Jobin
Andra Watkins

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24 thoughts on “Eater

  1. joey May 14, 2016 / 10:54 pm

    I suffer similarly. Yes, I am a good eater, but I almost never clean my plate. Yes, I’m a good writer, but I haven’t finished ANY novels I’ve started. I’m so disappointed in myself, I think I’ll eat a brownie.

    Like

    • Susanne May 15, 2016 / 7:43 am

      A novel is a massive project. I’m impressed all to hell with folks like you who take on such big things. Did you enjoy the brownie? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • joey May 15, 2016 / 10:42 am

        I decided a brownie in the night wasn’t worth it, but yes, I enjoyed it JUST NOW with my coffee. Delayed gratification can be sweet 🙂

        Like

  2. thecontentedcrafter May 14, 2016 / 11:13 pm

    A great piece of writing – again. I remember your ‘God is a good kisser’ story. Which is quite a compliment, given my memory!

    If you exchanged ‘writer’ you, with ‘crafter’ me, the story would be almost the same one. I so admire those writers who rewrite their novel, biography, learned treatise a hundred times until it is no longer the story they began with. Determined to polish and edit and craft it into a publishable tome. I so admire them. I am not made of that stuff! Once I have wrestled a beady creation or a painting into life – that’s it. Done. Dusted. What next? Icecream!! 🙂 I’m not altogether sure it is laziness though – I think it is more a low boredom threshold ……….. Now there’s a story I’m sticking with!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Susanne May 15, 2016 / 7:46 am

      I know I’m not alone in the knitting department with my many unfinished objects as I knit with a crowd of women who are as scattered as I. I blame the knitting magazines and the yarn store I frequent for my lapsed state. I admire finishers of all sorts but the novel writers are the most admirable – I agree, Pauline.

      I’ll go with your low boredom threshold theory. It’s so much better than calling myself lazy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Manja Mexi Movie May 15, 2016 / 4:51 am

    Oh, yes, an excellent eater myself, the only thing I’m not lazy about. Always when I read you, my proverbial butt lifts a few inches off my seat and I almost move.

    Like

    • Susanne May 15, 2016 / 7:48 am

      Wow! I like the reaction to my writing! A lifted butt. Thanks for the morning chuckle.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Luanne May 15, 2016 / 9:38 am

    Woohoo! I am so happy you went with Caroline! She rocks! She makes stuff happen. I am highly distractible, too, and have a hard time finishing or spreading myself too thin. But once it became easier to revise after having done more of it, I found it easier to finish some stuff. sometimes I hear something like Dianne Gray writing 5,000 words a day and get discouraged, but then other days I am surprised how many things I’ve finished and published in a few years. But it has been a long time coming. I’m a slow learner and so dis . .. where was I?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne May 15, 2016 / 5:07 pm

      Ha! And the blogosphere is a primo distraction. I should be making dinner but I have to reply to these comments right now, don’t I?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Luanne May 15, 2016 / 5:17 pm

        Yes, you do, and I’m glad you recognized that ;). Ugh, there is so much I should be doing right now that it’s easier to just not do any of it.

        Like

  5. Cynthia Jobin May 15, 2016 / 1:17 pm

    So funny…so honest. I don’t believe in the existence of “lazy.” That’s an adjective used to describe one who is not following the “shoulds” and “oughts” of life which themselves are fig newtons of our imagination. You will be perfect, and finished, and perfectly finished when you’re dead. I thoroughly enjoyed this Suzanne. (And thanks for mentioning my site.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne May 15, 2016 / 5:04 pm

      Shoulds and oughts get under my skin like fig newton seeds get in my teeth.and suddenly being perfectly finished is way less appealing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Bruce Goodman May 15, 2016 / 1:40 pm

    My house is never so cleanly vacuumed as when I have to revise/edit/redo a piece of writing… I know I haven’t written much when the house is a mess – as it is at present.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne May 15, 2016 / 5:06 pm

      For me it is anything in my sightlines and the poor dog, who lounges at my feet as I attempt to write becomes a target for my avoidance behaviour. I’m grateful that the garden is not visible from my writing room otherwise it would be weedless.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bruce Goodman May 15, 2016 / 5:59 pm

        It seems to be a universal phenomenon!

        Like

  7. jbbluesman May 16, 2016 / 1:13 pm

    This was so much fun to read Sue!! Got me smiling again,you are very good at that by the way. I’ve noticed my own avoidance strategies when it comes to learning or finishing a song, even dare I say doing the dishes (under the guise of thinking Audrey will think I was doing it to impress her!!) or cleaning the bathroom, toilet and all!!! That is when I know the song I am tackling isn’t my gender of music and I “have to play it” to make other people happy. But when it is something I really want to get inside me I can’t wait till it is and I can play it.
    I’ve never been bothered to much about things that I should be doing instead of working on my craft. I know this was a problem for Audrey when it came to doing something she enjoyed I told her whatever it is will still be there when you are done and that she was wasting the present moment feeling guilty and not focusing and the task at hand. She is getting better at it. So glad you finished this work of art Sue!! Thanks!

    Like

    • Susanne May 16, 2016 / 6:24 pm

      I’ve become very good at putting aside “housework” and other chores for the most part. It’s just my desk that I have to keep clean or it truly will distract me away from what I really want to do. I have to say, JB, the toilets never call to me but then again I have a teenage daughter I pay handsomely to handle that particular task! The blogosphere is another distraction for me. So many talented people to read. Thanks for dropping in and leaving a comment. Hugs to you.

      Like

  8. hilarycustancegreen May 16, 2016 / 3:53 pm

    You are right, finishing is harder even than marketing. I spotted a knitted hedgehog!

    Like

    • Susanne May 16, 2016 / 5:58 pm

      Good luck with the marketing – you are one hardworking author! And note: The hedgehog is not quite finished. Ears, feet, eyes, and stuffing still to do.

      Like

  9. Ellen Morris Prewitt May 18, 2016 / 3:51 pm

    For most of my writing life, I thought I had a finishing problem. Then I thought, well, yeah, you can finish things, but you constantly move onto the next thing—short stories? Naw, I wanna write novels now . . .Southern novels, no I mean fantasy novels, no I meant mysteries. It’s not just in my writing life—when folks knew me for making crosses, I moved onto homelessness onto Thumb Prayers. Now, I’ve decided I am just in a long arc of keeping lots of balls in the air at once. A meta-version of reading several books at once or liking to work on lots of projects at once. Plus, I never even finish what’s on my plate; I gotta have some alternate narrative to my life. 🙂

    Like

    • Susanne May 19, 2016 / 6:34 pm

      I admire you sang-froid about all those balls whirling above your head, Ellen. I can’t read several books at once – unless one is a book of poetry – I lose the thread of what’s going on! Or I get hit on the head with a hard ball.

      Liked by 1 person

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