Loafing

“Loafing is the most productive part of a writer’s life. ”
― James Norman Hall

This is a beautiful quote, yet one I thought was pure bullshit. “Free” time not spent writing or reading, researching or doing something to improve my skills was wasted. (I’m not saying I didn’t have more than my fair share of this time, but I was sufficiently guilty about it and penitent when I returned to my desk. Never have I considered that accumulation of wasted hours watching Family Guy or eyeball deep in a Magic: The Gathering EDH game to be productive.)  Until the last weekend of freedom before spring semester. I decided that I needed time to myself before my weekends filled with reading about ecology, philosophy and keeping up with the mad scramble that is work. So, I loafed. I watched “The Road,” an adaptation of the book by Cormac McCarthy. I read. I took a nap. I played Words with Friends until people stopped hitting me back with immediate responses. I read some more. And then it happened.

A phrase struck me, and from the place where I sprawled in my bathrobe, feet tucked under the blankets, and a book laid open before me, I sat up. The phrase became a sentence, that became a paragraph, and ended up being three pages. It was a new character. Well, no, it was two, but one was clearly in the spotlight while the other was trying to shrink away from his influence.

Huh. Whaddya know? In the (uncharacteristic) stillness, I found the spark of an idea, and though I have absolutely no idea where it is headed or what it’s about, this piece is clearly stronger than the one I’ve been mauling in an attempt to find the right way in, and I think I’m going to run with it. I’m sure this is a result of all the reading I’ve been doing, all the piddling and tinkering with writing that hasn’t developed the way I’d envisioned, and taking the time to feed my brain with such delights as “American Horror Story.” With a well-fed brain, anything can happen. A word can finally germinate into something amazing when the circumstances are right. I suppose it just needs the stillness to be heard.

Maybe I’ll try loafing a little more often, just to see what happens. Well, after the semester is over, that is.

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