Monday, June 4, 2018

What Did You Do Today?

I sort of wish my friends would quit asking me, “So, Stark Raving Mythopath, what did you DO today?” 

Why don't they ask me something easier, like "What's the square root of pi?" Or "How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?"

What did I do today? So often I hem and haw and try to think of something to say. It’s usually writer friends who ask this question, and so I know that the expected answer has something to do with writing. Did I work on a story? A poem? A blog post? Research? Sharpen my pencils? Anything remotely related to writing? 

Or that failing, did I clean house or paint the living room or volunteer at a soup kitchen or make my own soap? 

Hand-made soap. Made it this morning. . .I wish!

Did I embroider new couch pillows or learn to play the French horn? 

Um, which end do I blow into?

Maybe I directed an off-Broadway musical or coached a girls volleyball team? (Yeah, right!) Or reorganized all the closets and cooked ahead for the week? 

Surely I DID something!

The volleyball team I coached. . .in my dreams!

I really don’t want to tell them the truth. That some days I don’t do much at all. There, I said it. What's worse, I really don't feel bad about it!

I do believe that I should try to forge ahead to finish the two books I'm working on. And write the occasional post for this blog. I try to hop on the treadmill most days and do some reading to exercise my flabby mind. I also read my Bible and pray. 

And some days I do a lot of writing and editing and planning.

But some days I just don't do much of anything. And I think that's okay sometimes. Not every day. But some days I seem to stare out the window into the vanishing point. Until the day itself vanishes.

But often, it's while "doing not much" that ideas come. Some pretty dumb ideas. And some really brilliant ideas. Some where-in-the-world-did-that-come-from-? ideas. Some how-did-I-ever-live-without-this-? ideas. 

Ideas for a story. For a poem. For how to re-arrange the closets (if I ever get get around to doing it). For how to take in that long skirt and add pockets at the same time. For how to be rich and famous. (The latter, alas, generally don't work.) Or the answer to the eternal question: what's for dinner?

The trick is to have a good system or at least some system to record and organize all these ideas. At home, where a computer is usually available, I have a spreadsheet. Away from home, there's a notebook in my purse. And in bed at night  in the ultimate posture of "doing nothing"  I just hope I'll remember the next day.

Mythopath jotting down ideas

The poet Archibald MacLeish wrote:
A poem should not mean
But be

And I think that sometimes. . .
A person should not do
But be
But be prepared. With your body relaxed, your batteries recharged, and your mind at rest, ideas may happen.

Image Credits:
   Woman with writing utensils - Woman with wax tablets and stylus 
     (so-called "Sappho") portrays a high-society Pompeian woman,
     This raster graphics image was created with Adobe Photoshop CS
     Photographer: Carole Raddato; 
  House Cleaning Cartoon - by H G Peter that appeared on "The Modern Woman" 
     page of Judge Magazine, 6 February 1915, Source Judge Magazine,
     Author: H G Peter; this media file is in the public domain in the 
     United States. This applies to U.S. works where the copyright has expired, 
     often because its first publication occurred prior to January 1, 1923  
  Hand-made soap - Soap made from shea butter;  Author: Marco Schmidt;
  French horn - Author: BenP;
  Volleyball team - Author: Hobbs21;
  Girl at window - English: Owings Mills, United States; Author: 
      Kate Williams kmw152;
  Woman writing - oil painting by Adelaide Labille Guiard;  in the public domain 
      in countries where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years;
     Statue of woman thinking - "la Pensadora" by José Luis Fernández in Oviedo, 
      Asturias, Spain;  Author: ÁWá;


  1. The Art of Being...and you got it! WHooHoo! Thanks for helping me remember...

  2. So very true!! And writers are experts at daydreaming and doing "nothing."