Yesterday was a day I'd looked forward to for a long time: a whole day at home with nothing to do but write. I teach at the university MWF and try to keep Tuesday/Thursday free for writing, but it's hard enough to protect Tuesday/Thursday as days I don't trek into my office for talks or meetings, let alone days that don't fill up with LTs (Loathsome Tasks) that simply have to be done. But yesterday stretched ahead before me "like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new."
And then I proceeded to waste most of it.
Well, first I went for a walk with my friend Rowan, which is hardly a waste of time. Exercise and friendship are important, and exercise in conjunction with friendship is a delight. But afterward I faced just a few LTs, associated with my position as president of the scholarly Children's Literature Association. It was a thrill to be asked to preside for a year over such a wonderful organization, one I love so much, but once I said yes, that meant that my life could never again, for this year, be an entirely LT-free zone.
A few LTs crossed off my list, I meant to settle down to write, but first I indulged my sudoku addiction for just a little while, to clear my palette. By now it was time for lunch. Then after lunch I did try to write and managed a couple of dreadful pages, but their dreadfulness got me discouraged. Checking my email every few minutes, I saw that I had gotten a couple of work-related messages that left me still more discouraged, so I did some more sudoku to cheer myself up. By five o'clock the flaming ruins of my wasted day were such a depressing sight that I could hardly force myself to get up off the couch to go finish up some leftover Halloween candy for dinner. All that was left to complete the "darkling plain" of my day that had "neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain" was a few hours more of sudoku, and then it was time for bed.
Oh, what a tragic waste of so many of life's precious hours!
But this morning, guilt-stricken and determined to do better, I leaped from bed at 5:00, made myself my Swiss Miss hot chocolate, and turned to finishing chapter two of draft one of the Nora ant farm book. I read over what I had written yesterday. Those pages weren't so terrible, after all. I resumed my scribbling. More pages appeared, stronger, funnier than yesterday's pages. One wise friend likes to say that in order to get the clear water to flow from the tap, you have to release the brown water first. Today's water was clear, no tinge of brown at all. Now I'm on fire to write this thing. Now the magic is starting to happen.
So maybe yesterday wasn't a totally worthless day. Maybe it was a necessary brown water day.
A brown water day with about nine hours too much of sudoku in it.