Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Making Friends with Monotony

Photo by KaCey97007.

I got laid off from my job a few weeks ago, and I find myself rattling around in the house like one lone marble trapped in a pickle jar. It's not like I have nothing to do - I have tons to do! But, being one lone marble who prefers the company of other marbles, I rattle around and flit from activity to activity, while accomplishing not so much.

The problem, I see now, is that I float mindlessly through my day until something
outside myself (an email, a phone call, a meeting, an editing assignment) breaks the monotony for me. I check my email over and over, waiting to hear from an editor. I surf the web until a friend calls. I move from thing to thing and don't follow through unless the activity is nailed to a deadline. This leaves me with half-vacuumed carpets unless company is coming, half-read books unless it's for an assignment that's due, and half-written articles (lots of them!) unless an editor is knocking on my door. (It also leads to far too many trips to the refrigerator, which has led to larger numbers on my bathroom scale.) Something must be done about this!

The cure, I finally realized, is to make friends with monotony, the fabric of life. Monotony is the main stuff. The calls from editors, the vacations to Maui, and all the other fun things are the sparkles in my fabric. But it's mostly monotony.
Or, the commonplace, if you prefer.

So my goal for February is to strengthen my endurance muscles in dealing with the ordinary. I will choose something mundane and plain like doing the laundry, and I will finish the task to the end. I will inhale the clean smell of the dryer sheets, I will savor the quiet of the house as I fold. In short, I will practice
enjoying all the little bits that are "doing the laundry." And I will not be distracted until the task is done.

Soon, my everyday life - in all its glorious monotony - will be a thing of beauty in itself. With or without the sparkly calls from the editors.


David Mooney said...

I am reminded of few years ago when you first decide to work toward being a full time writer. You have come along way from there, and should be very proud of your accomplishments. I am very proud of you.

Heather Trent Beers said...

Thank you, David. It's been a long and winding road, full of shiny distracting things, but I love it! :oD

John Atkinson said...

Dear Heather, making friends with monotone is a tough task. Mama used to tell me to count my blessing, that nothing stays the same. Even at the best of times the waiting for an editor can drive my mind into a fit. But like sailing a toy boat on a pond, I cast the writing out there and hope for a good voyage. I have to let it go.

I'm not much at hanging clothes on the line. Oh, well, today is a new day. What must I do? Please visit my blog and it's a howdy at you. John

Paul Nichols said...

When I was outta work last year, a walk was real good therapy for me. Every step meant something; every bend in the trail offered a new scene. (Shoot, I even got green and picked up litter here and there.) I know it's cold right now, but I use the mall, too. You might try that. There are almost 200 parks and trails in Johnson County. That'll cure the monotony.

Heather Trent Beers said...

10-4, good buddy. I'm right there with you. I hate the cold, so I have taken to walking the treadmill at home or the gym. Amazingly, I love it. Never thought I'd say that about exercise!

Helen said...

that's why being a writer is so hard - you have to generate your own schedule and creative energy. i reckon you should do what the benedictians did - divide the day into work, pray, play. and make a schedule. so set yourself a daily hour to write your novel, and an hour to work on your articles.
then you need time to take in life and reflect on it so you have something to write about. and then there's the housework and family time... but if you chunk out times and write them into your diary, and discipline yourself to keep to those times every day, you'll find it easier.
And every day or few days, a reward. mine is a round of the charity shops in my area.