Listing, learning


I’ve taken to making lists of everything I do in a day, a running tally of pages written, important e-mails sent, articles submitted to editors, interviews completed, workouts, queries, the like. I’m not quite sure — no, I have some idea — precisely why or to whom I’m justifying my existence, but that’s what it is: justifying my existence, finding a way to quell the voice that likes to tell me I’m not quite enough just on my own, that I need a string of accomplishments, cookies baked, meetings scheduled, in order to be allowed to be.

And today, I just couldn’t.

I mean, just couldn’t means submitting an article to a new editor, letting go of my perfectionism and doubt (the freelancer’s niggling baseline of I’m not an expert! coursing through my veins) as I steeled myself to hit “send” because deadline and I have enough sense of self-preservation to know when to let go. Within minutes, I had positive feedback.

Just couldn’t means that I managed to get myself to the chiropractor, who wrenched my neck back into some semblance of a place; to a meeting at the school; to feed myself lunch; to move forward on scheduling an interview; to have an important phone meeting. But it also meant flailing around on the blank page of what should be the next short story. I am halfway — half! way! — through this manuscript, five out of ten stories drafted. And I have ideas and fragments for the next five, but each time I sat and set the timer, what came out were doubts and questions, and then the phone rang, and no. Not today. Today there is no focus.

It’s been a stressful week, full of new discoveries and big challenges and even some good surprises. Got sad news about a friend. Manageable news, news far enough away from me that it holds no repercussions on my life, but I could feel myself dissolving when I got it. I woke too early, and was then joined in bed by a snuggly boy and had the presence of mind to relish his presence. I napped today. I couldn’t do much else.

And then I pulled it together to go to the gym, where I got yelled at in a friendly way in spin class, and then I showered and sauna’ed, lying in the dark and quiet heat, imagining the toxins escaping my body in rivulets of sweat, rinsing off in the cool and then doing it again. Now I’m home, little between me and bed but Netflix and some toothpaste.

And today, that's going to have to be enough.