I have been neglectful. I’m so textbook ADD it’s boring. With my blog here, I met with some success—readers, commenters, followers—and then dropped out. My former therapist might have said that I am afraid of success, but I think it is the typical ebb and flow of ADD interest instead.
Here’s what happens from my side. I start out on something (my blog, in this case), and I don’t have high expectations for it. It is fresh and new and fun. Then I get some positive feedback and suddenly the floodgates are open. In a prose or fiction project, I usually can get 30,000 or 40,000 words. Then I stall out.
Stalling happens when ambition strikes. For the blog, I suddenly have readers who are interested. Then I start to think book, best seller, interviewed by Oprah. I even have fantasies about what I might say in an interview It all started with a little blog and a few readers, I would say, stroking my beard profoundly. I don’t have a beard, but it would be part of my genius author makeover. I would be rich and famous, pay off all my student loans, and Ralph Fiennes will play me in the movie version. I’ll give self-deprecating readings to packed audiences like David Sedaris.
That mess gets so big, I put off doing any new writing for a few days. Then, I feel as if I have to explain my absence in some way, which makes me put it off even more. Suddenly, a new idea comes along and I’m off in a new (or back to an old) hobby.
My hobby with renewed interest is music. I have a long history as an amateur musician starting with piano lessons at age 7. My music background includes a stint as a keyboardist in a prog-rock cover band in the early 90’s (Any escape might help to smooth the unattractive truth/ that the suburbs have no charms to soothe the restless dreams of youth) and a job as head rock-and-roll guy at a performing arts summer camp. Most recently, I learned my guitar chops playing in a basement for several years with a band of similarly off-balance personalities, including a recovered drug addict, an agoraphobic, and a male-to-female transgender, all of whom held respectable jobs as teachers.
Half the band moved away, and the house with the basement in it had to be sold, and the remaining band member got carpal-tunnel syndrome and sold all the equipment, so I had gone back to plinking alone in my basement. I had gotten to the point of not even touching a guitar in six months.
Well, the university got me a new MacBook and it had GarageBand on it, and lo and behold I was hooked on music again. My music partner got her wrists back in shape and is playing and recording again, and lookout, I’m back in music again. At the expense of writing.
(If you will indulge me, here’s a song I’m working on: Somber Song)
But even the music is not entirely fulfilling. I get the nagging feeling I’m wasting my time, I’m getting distracted, this is a foolish endeavor that I’m spending too much time and money on (just ordered parts to completely rewire my main guitar).
What I find hard in any endeavor is to find the middle ground. Creativity and ambition fight each other. If I can be good I can be great, the thinking goes, and that thought changes to I must be great and then I’m not great, so I’m not even very good and then hey, look, there’s my fancy camera that I haven’t touched in six months; where are my photography books? When the going gets tough, I go on to something else.
Put another way, the small successes and the fantasy of the big success are far more stimulating than the hard work of following through to the end of meeting ambition’s goal. Setbacks and boredom aren’t part of the big success fantasy, so it must be the wrong fantasy. I’m on to a new fantasy (such as my music partner and I playing on SNL).
So today’s Sunday, and it’s a very special Sunday, because it’s the end of my spring break from the university. Had a whole week with no classes or meetings, with the kids in school. I had such grand plans . . .