Budding Writer, 1979: Sittin’ on the dock

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Champ, Lake Champlain’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster, awaits Amtrak riders outside the station in Burlington, Vermont, on April 19, 2023. By Howard Fielding. Offered under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0.

The journals from my first months as a freelancer show that procrastination — my old nemesis — has been with me from the very earliest days. Its companion, inertia, is harder to spot but just as unforgiving.

The law of inertia says that a body that is at rest stays at rest, or a body that is in motion stays in motion, unless it is acted on by an outside force. It’s one of Newton’s laws of motion. It’s also a law of life, as this entry from this date in 1979 shows:

… I sat on the dock and thought about what a fine place it is here and how perhaps I should come back, where I know I’d be welcome and where I know there’s a community I could fit back into. If only I could prove I can work here! I did get some Crisis Center underway today, between laundry + reading comics, but I must admit that TV took up 4 hours today. …

I daydreamed; perhaps if the Dart Coll job(s) fall through and I can’t get my projects (arts page and Action Line) pushed at the Journal Opinion, then I could return here and live + write. Fun to putter around.

And perhaps I could turn the soon-to-be-retired Pines Lake School or George Washington J.H.S. into an arts center. But then I’m a lousy planner, director, and administrator — as we all know.

Journal, Volume II
19 April, 1979

Inertia has plagued me most of my life, and continues to do so today. If a writer — or anyone — has trouble getting started on a project, that’s inertia. I’ve also concluded that my perpetual problem with household clutter is another function of inertia. An object that is at rest, after use or being unpacked, tends to stay at rest.

But an object that is in motion tends to stay in motion. That’s why it’s important to get into the habit of writing, or picking up, or whatever is being procrastinated over.

The arts center idea, though, was best left in its place. The “soon-to-be-retired” Pines Lake and George Washington schools never were retired.

I retired before they did. But then, individuals have less inertia than bureaucracies like school districts and governments.

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