There are a couple of things I’m avoiding in my personal life right now- you know the kinds of things I mean. Phone calls that are difficult to make, because you’re afraid of the answers you might get, matters that need to be discussed, but seem too fraught with emotional baggage to bring up. The things that keep getting passed on to tomorrow’s “to do” list, and somehow end up never getting done at all.
I suspect that most of us have a secret cache of things we avoid in our lives. Now that I’ve developed this regular writing practice, I’m discovering there are some things I avoid there as well.
Like re-writing. A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was considering revising Dear Samantha, the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo last fall. And though I talked about not knowing where to begin with that process, my feelings are really more about not wanting to begin that process at all– I’m avoiding it big-time. So I put those pages back in their bright yellow folder, and conveniently lose them in the pile of other things demanding attention on my desk- my morning pages notebook, my daily lists of things to do, a pile of correspondence from my day job. I see them there, right now, staring balefully at me, yet I persist in writing this post, continuing my pattern of avoidance.
Something else I avoid in my writing is research. The narrator of Dear Samantha is in treatment for ovarian cancer, and I know a good part of any serious revision on this novel is going to require research into treatment protocols for this disease. This same narrator is also a musician, but since she’s in a chamber group, and I’m not terrible familiar with chamber music repertoire, again I know I’ll need to do some research, find and study some examples so I can provide the kind of details that bring the musical scenes in the book to life.
No matter how much we love our creative endeavors, they all have aspects we tend to avoid. I’m very familiar with areas of avoidance in my musical life…fingering and tempo. I clearly remember my first lesson with my college piano teacher. I complained bitterly about the way she made me revise all my fingering on a Mozart Sonata. “I could play this perfectly if she’d let me use my old fingering!” I whined. At first, these new fingerings were clumsy and slow. Grudgingly, I came to accept they did indeed work better and make my playing more efficient. And it took me years before I came to accept the metronome as my friend. (I’m a speed demon at the keyboard as well as on the road!)
This morning, I finally made one of those difficult phone calls that I’d been avoiding so assiduously, and things worked out better than I might have hoped. In the spirit of that success, maybe I’ll be inspired to tackle something I’ve been avoiding on my writing “to do” list as well.
So, how about you? What do you avoid in your writing life or in your other creative endeavors?