Procrastination, and the art of suffering

See the picture of the post cover? The girl peacefully sitting on the grass, only her notepad and her thoughts, jotting down a moving, compelling story while birds chirp and the wind whispers her a sweet song?

Yeah?

Bullshit.

Here’s how it goes, writing a story.

It all started when I spoke with few of my writer peers, and realized we all share common traits. Creative, neurotic, with a knack for drama and ridiculously charming. We’re also procrastinators. If the first qualities are easy to understand and see, the charm above all, procrastination might give some trouble to the non-writing world.

Why do we drag the moment when we sit down in front of the keyboard, you may ask? Isn’t that a pleasure? The very essence of our lives? The ecstatic moment when creativity burns hot and fills every cell of our artistic mind?

No.

First of all, sometimes we are strong enough to get to our computer, but then life happens. Nothing we can do about it. Our Facebook status must be updated. The files in our computer reorganized. Our kid needs a 12-layer cake, I better start baking. Laundry. Time to clean the top of the kitchen cabinets-all of them.

And that’s true nice–but not the whole story. Most of the times, though, we simply postpone our duty to art. As much as we can, with an enviable stubbornness.

Wanna know why?

Well, because creating a story hurts. All. The. Fucking. Way. Through.

From start to finish.

The first draft is a free fall through a tunnel infused with blinding lights. Voices you don’t recognize echo in your head; places you haven’t been to run behind your eyes; foreign emotions mess with your sleep. You don’t know where you started from or why, don’t know where you’ll end up. You’re not even sure when it’s going to end, if ever. And the worst part is, there are emergency exits and you can see them in all their glory, but some evil force holds you there.

So you keep falling.

The tunnel does end, sooner or later. That’s when you edit, also known as the moment you cry tears of blood. All those beautiful sentences, the inspired descriptions, the brilliant insight hours of research gave you. Trash it all, because they do nothing for the story. They have to go. And each time you press the delete key, a part of yourself dies.

But you survive.

You soldier through the pain, manage to trudge to your writing partner. With kind words, affection, and the occasional alcohol, he or she will help you nurse the wounds and polish the story from those bits and pieces you weren’t strong enough to delete or change. But that badass of your critic partner, with her eagle eye, had spotted all of them and demanded their demise.

You give in, mostly because you’re so damn tired of that story at that point, you hate the characters with that kind of twisted love we reserve for a boyfriend that had dumped us two days before Christmas. The plot is horrible, and honestly, you don’t give a bad shit if you have to delete half of it.

In a way, though, that helps you. Because of that hate and  scorn, you are better now,  strong enough to press the ‘send’ button to the devil’s roommate: the publisher.

The waiting begins. Days become weeks, then months.

And one sunny morning, when hope had sailed away for the Caribbean and you’ve forgotten how to be paranoid, you see THE email.

That’s it. This email will change your life, allow you to call yourself an author one more time and not feeling a fraud. Your moment. You dreamed about it, even rehearsed how you will tell your family and friends–especially that ass-hat with the condescending smile. Writing is a nice hobby, she’d said. Suck that, loser!

Hope pummels up, fingers tremble.

You click on the message without seeing much, so close you are to pass out.

Good story, but I’m afraid it doesn’t fit into our publishing house lines. All the best for your writing career.

At this point, the choice is between getting drunk or picking up the Knitting For Idiots manual. Personally, I bought raw coffee and learned how to toast it myself. I even got the right pan. Never worked out.

The send-and-get-rejected movie goes on repeat for an unknown number of times until the moment comes. The planets align, the gods of the written words stop the party, and a holy light fills your email account.

*insert celestial music here*

You have a contract (or, if you self-publish, the report of your sales brings tears of joy to your tired eyes).

Yes. It had happened.

Yes.

The ordeal will start all over again in a short period, but that’s a thought for another time. Today, you’ve made it. Today, you are Rocky on top of those stairs, shouting Adrian.

And start another story.

Shit.

So, why do we put ourselves through it, if it’s so bad? Hard to say.

Hard to say, really.

To me, it’s the only way to get some quiet into my mind. A release for the overload of energy I store–the character’s, not mine.

And there’s more. It’s the high of the last period, the one right after the words THE END when each and every time I cry because I got to that destination I didn’t know.

The first draft leaves me with, quoting Stephen King’s words, a pile of crap, but I have something to work with. I can make my character’s story into the great journey they deserve, regardless of how much it hurts.

If I have to guess on a larger scale, I’d say we need it in all its monstrosity glory.

It’s our destiny, our curse, and our salvation. We love it just as much as we hate it. All. The. Fucking. Way. Through.

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