It dawned on me recently that I write the most, and often the best, when I am procrastinating. This realization came to me courtesy of Anne Lamott, the author of a number of wonderful books, including the one I've been re-reading before bed, Bird by Bird. It's about her writing process, which involves quite a few jokes at her own expense and a number of references to the ways she avoids writing. And it occurred to me while I was reading a particular passage where she describes sitting down, then getting up to make a few phone calls, then deciding she needed to eat, then finally sitting down again and just sort of staring blankly for a few minutes, that she was also describing my process.
"I'd try to write a lead, but instead I'd write a couple of dreadful sentences, xx them out, try again, xx everything out, and then feel despair and worry settle on my chest like an x-ray apron. It's over, I'd think, calmly. I'm not going to be able to get the magic to work this time. I'm ruined. I'm through. I'm toast. Maybe, I'd think, I can get my old job back as a clerk-typist. But probably not. I'd get up and study my teeth in the mirror for a while. Then I'd stop, remember to breathe, make a few phone calls, hit the kitchen and chow down. Eventually I'd go back and sit down at my desk, and sigh for the next ten minutes."
I would guess this probably describes a good deal of other writers' processes, too.
Which is why, instead of doing the writing work I am actually being paid to do, I am here, happily writing for free. (My column is due on Mondays and my radio shows are due on Tuesdays. Have you ever noticed how many of my posts go up on Mondays? This is not a coincidence.)
Anyway, while I'm here, I'd like to share a recommendation for a roasted Brussels sprout quiche. I found it in the December issue of Food & Wine and made it this afternoon for my friend Sebastian, who just had knee surgery and has literally been fainting from pain. The quiche looks and smells delicious, and because I didn't read the directions carefully, I made enough filling for two regular 9-inch pie crusts, so we'll be having the same thing. I can't wait.