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This Year I Rewrite My Novel–Part IV, What’s New Now This Time

“Straightforward procrastination is the author’s worst enemy, but there are others: the writer who suddenly has chores that have gone undone for months but that now seem urgent; the diarist who develops the keen wish to write about her experiences; the Good Samaritan who realizes that there’s a world out there that needs saving“Forget all that. Don’t write in the journal unless you’re writing a chapter of your book. Save the world at 8:30 instead of 7:00. Let the lawn get shaggy and the paint peel from the walls.” (Walter Mosley, This Year You Write Your Novel)

I’m always a little late on trends. Not only because I can’t keep up but because there’s so much I feel like I’ve left behind. In 2006, I was the person who had the little green and black (palak-paneer) screen on her cellphone while everyone else had camera and color. I own a heavy and beautiful Underwood typewriter that sits on a red IKEA console that I could lift (and probably destroy) with a finger. I have a soft spot for the dodo.

Hence, because of some recent spiritual crisis (another blog entry in and of itself), I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now, like ten years after Oprah and everyone else.

To be honest, it’s my warm cup of milk before bed. Not that the ideas or the words bore me, but, yeah, they kinda do. I agree with them, but the language, the question and answer format sort of lull me to sleep like I’m doing a mental savasana at the end of my yoga practice, except that instead of the little Tibetan bell chiming three times to wake me from my pose, I get a blaring alarm clock six hours later.

This is the special place that Eckhart has in my heart.

So, we’ve heard these words–being, presence, beingness, presenceness–before but what’s different for me, I mean what’s new for me this now, is that I’m starting to realize that the sullen dread with which I sometimes face life–the laundry, the tax return, the renewing of my license plate tabs online–mimics the sullen dread I can at times experience before “writing time.”

And what if now, I began to let go of the past and the future, would it be easier in the now, not only as I live but also as I write? Or is writing itself a procrastination of life and life a procrastination of writing?

I used to feel a kind of bourgeois guilt about writing, like I could have been digging water wells in Sudan or something instead of working on a novel.

But once, a friend and writer told me that all I was asking from life was to be who I am.

And then one day I looked in the mirror and said to myself, “I’m not a well-digger; I’m a writer!”

And in the act of saying this, writing becomes a life, just as much as my life becomes of writing, at least for now.