Kate Flora: When I told my husband Ken that my goal for the summer was to embrace
indolence, he responded that he thought that was kind of a negative word. He may be right, and I would welcome suggestions from all of you for a better term. Here’s what you will be describing.
Ever since I bought my first computer and joined my fellow writers in the unpublished writer’s corner thirty-four years ago, I’ve been an obsessive writer. I like obsession. I embrace obsession. I thrive on those hours when I get to be glued to my keyboard, the words and stories flowing, my characters taking wing and sometimes misbehaving. I have loved being in story and seeing where the adventure takes me. My trust laptop has been lugged all over the world because I seem never to have been without a deadline, or a final set of edits, or something that has to be created that just can’t wait.
Well. I’m not going to stop writing, but I am going to step back from letting that laptop control my life. Just imagine how much lighter I will feel if I’m not hiking through the Czech Republic with a laptop in my backpack?
Just like learning the discipline of writing, though, I think learning the discipline of indolence, or getting into the zen of gardening, or taking the time to watch the clouds, or simply sitting and inhaling the magic of Harpswell sunsets, will be a challenge. I get this restless feeling when I’m not working. When I’m trying to beat back the goutweed that is devouring a flower bed, I find that I am making lists of what I need to do in the writing world. I will be admiring the clear spot that I’ve finally carved from a wilderness of weeds, and suddenly I will be thinking: No. Wait. That interview is still too short. Something else needs to come out in it which will connect to something a character said earlier. I will be wondering: Where, exactly, has Heidi gone, and is she safe or is she in danger? And when we will finally find a body–this is a murder mystery, after all.
Okay. So achieving indolence will not be easy. I can loll about, reading a novel, from perhaps half an hour before I start making a list of chores to be done and get snapped back that elusive plot again.
But it is a start.
I’ve long said that writers need to pay attention to the world that surrounds us so that we
can refill the well of character, setting, and detail. I know that the creative soul needs nourishment, not just steady work and endless applications of seat to seat. So maybe, despite the pleasure with which I announce my new dedication to indolence, I am lying to myself, and to you. Maybe this, too, is part of the writer’s work.
What do you think?