I had these great plans for the Christmas holiday. I had close to two weeks without work, and 10 days without my own personal teen and tween. What a fabulous block of time awaited me!
Actually, it was like a fresh notebook awaiting prose! I was going to write and work on that fiction manuscript which siren songs to me during the busiest of weeks. (So coy the creative muse can be!) And I was going to sit down and write all those blog posts I have on a list inside that notebook where I jot phrases and thoughts in between meetings, or in the car at soccer practice.
Oh, the plan was great — I was going to write one post a day until I had a magnificent stockpile that would see me through those intense months of January and February, which look pretty clear on my calendar right now. But that calendar is such a mirage — I am going to guess that I will be back at work for two, maybe three days, before there is some sort of crisis that requires my undivided attention. See, that’s how it usually works.
Which is why I took that glorious clean sheet of time in front of me … and made a playlist.
Yep, a playlist. An arrangement of 33 songs whose words were not written by me. Whose melodies were most definitely not written by me, because I am not musical. So, a playlist whose only creative input from yours truly was the picking and choosing of those 33 songs into a list. To, you know, play.
OK, to be fair, I did complete a short freelance assignment, and I successfully pitched an idea for another article. But to be even fairer, I can’t say I sweated this. I worked as a journalist for 10 years, for laziness’s sake, and often during those years I had to write two to three fifteen column-inch stories a day. Which equals about 2,400 words a day.
So one little 600-word story and one idea in a week is … well, sub par to say the least. A glorious under-performance, if I am being generous. Of course, being a chronic over-reacher, I like to think of my output as a tribute to low achievement. See, even when I am lazy, I want to be lazy with great results.
In reality, a blank notebook might have been the wrong metaphor for the vacation the stretched before me. Maybe it was really a soft, fluffy, warm bed and an alarm that was turned off.
Maybe it was a Paul Simon song.
Possibly it was that new song “Pompeii,” which for some reason reminded me of the ‘80s band Big Country. Because everything old is new again, and even the happiest of writers needs to close her laptop and put down her pens. And contemplate Marky Mark.
Yes, that’s right, Marky Mark and his pals, the Funky Bunch, and their one hit of greatness that came out in the early ’90s. I used to hear it every morning on the radio as I left my apartment near University of Maryland and drove through some of the worst neighborhoods in D.C. to pick up the metro and get to the National Press Building for my internship.
That was when Congress was considering Clarence Thomas’s appointment to the Supreme Court, and when we were done filing our stories for the day, our editor let us sit in on those hearings. Because that was history.
That semester I saw Hillary Clinton give a speech, I wrote about Smokey Bear, and I won an award for a story I wrote about campaign finances. Actually I learned more about writing in those months than I learned in the rest of college or graduate school.
Which is probably why I allowed Marky Mark back into my life this week as I missed every deadline I set for myself. Because even though it’s not at all in my nature, it really was good to put down my pen.
To sleep late.
To forget about words.
To wait for some pre-Bieber ‘80s boy who’s now an actor to invite me to “C’mon on and swing it.”
To know that around the corner, another story awaits. And I will be ready for it. Just not today.