I’m feeling a lot more positive about life than I have been for a while. I’ve even tinkered with a poem. But mostly I’ve been doing all those other things I find myself engaged in whenever I’m gearing-up to a longer period of writing work. You know… sorting out my files and piles of paper, tidying the desk, tidying the room, pacing the room, pacing the house, watching the latest Squirrel-v.-Wood Pigeon grudge match in the garden…
In her wonderful book One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers (1999, Penguin), Gail Sher has this to say:
Invisible practice refers to tasks that come to your attention primarily when you have neglected them – brushing your teeth, emptying the garbage, straightening your desk. … Invisible practice. It helps to have a dignified name for what we might easily label ungratifying time-wasters.
So that’s what’s been going on, these last few weeks! Invisible practice. I mean, I’m glad that my tax return’s been completed, a load of washing’s been done, but I was starting to get worried. There’d been a lot of haranguing going on in my head (You’re shit. You’re a lazy cow. You’re so up yourself. Who do you think you are etc etc) and not much work on the poems.
So, today, when I’m scared that I won’t finish this manuscript, that I’ll never write another new poem again in my life, I tell myself it’s all right, I’ve been doing my Invisible Practice. And now, maybe, if I edge up to them very slowly, the poems will let me work on them. I mean, I’ll let me work on them.