The Fine Art Of Not Writing

Not Writing art _1.jpg

 Gary Gladstone

Today I will write more because last week I let a million distractions keep me from actually hitting the keys.

I’ll start now.

I feel better because of my resolve. Let’s start.

Let me just check email first. I’ll open this

important-looking message.

I paid that already! I need to reply now to avoid guilt. I can’t write with a guilt distraction.

Should I use alcohol to clean the smudge that hides the ampersand on the 7 key? That’s why I can never find the ampersand. I’ll use a Q-tip because I see the cotton balls are all gone.

A Q-tip seems to work well between keys, too. Look how dirty they are in between.

I should add cotton balls and Q-tips to my shopping list.

It’s hard writing vertically on the refrigerator door. I feel like such a grownup when I write things on the shopping list. It’s writing that always brings a successful result.

Back at my desk. I twist the monitor for a better view and ceremoniously suspend ten fingers over the keyboard.

The cat drops a jingle ball at my feet and meows.

“Go away. I’m writing.”

The cat meows.

“Go away.”

The cat stares at me.

“Not now. Go away.”

The cat meows.

“Can’t you see I’m writing?”

The cat meows. I toss the ball and smile because I’m such a good owner. Now I will write.

I look at what I wrote last week and correct the tense in the fifth paragraph. My eyeglasses have a smudge that blurs some of the words of the 12-point font. Should I wipe my glasses or increase the font size?

I increase the font size to 16 points and now I can easily read what I have already written. I notice that with this one adjustment, my document has gone from two pages to four.

I feel better now. I can take a minute to look in the fridge because four pages are not that bad for an hour’s work.

I sweep the crumbs away from the keyboard as the sun pops out. It streams through the picture window. The bright light behind my monitor makes the screen hard to see.

I place a piece of cardboard to block the sun on the monitor. I notice that the window glass is hazy because it hasn’t been cleaned all winter. My view of the Juniper bushes is clouded. A clear view will be helpful to clear thinking.

A soapy sponge and a 12-inch squeegee work fast for cleaning the window and a wad of paper towels soaks up the corner drips.

Now I can really write.

I read last week’s work again to see what I must write next.

I find unneeded words and remove them. I change Mary Jo Santini’s name to that of another classmate so she won’t be too insulted with my characterization of her as “easy.” I change Karen Torgeson’s name to Celia Torgeson. I spend seven minutes researching the variations of the spelling of Torgeson so I don’t insult Karen by misspelling her name should she read this after sixty-four years.

Feeling vindicated, I reread my corrections to see if I have cut and pasted correctly.

I know that it’s always a good idea to step away from the work for a few hours to get a fresh outlook. I push back my chair and walk outside for a well-earned breath of fresh air.

Writing is hard work.


© Gary Gladstone  2016


2 thoughts on “The Fine Art Of Not Writing”

  1. Gary,
    You’ve captured some hauntingly familiar rituals here . I love the line, “four pages are not that bad for an hour’s work.” The “well-earned breath of fresh air” at the end is choice too. Nice job.

  2. Hi Gary – I first read this story of yours a month or two ago. Having written this you will not be surprised to find I have only now gotten around to commenting.
    I saw you read your story about your father at the last group meeting, and have also read your story re: “Hooker #3.” Here now to say I admire your style – and your choices of words. I especially like that you write in such a straight forward way with no self-consciousness and no striving to be more ‘literate’ than to be painting all your readers with an delightful image.
    “Non-writing” made me knowingly smile. “Hooker #3 made me laugh out loud.
    Thank you.

    Shirley Creazzo

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