Ever had one of those days? A Ho-hum-humdrum one?
Ever had one of those days when you just don’t feel like doing anything?
Some people might call it procrastination, but this is more of an, “I don’t want to do anything,” feeling.
There seems to be no reason, no rhyme to this ho-hum-humdrum feeling. It’s as if the usually compliant and busy worker in my psychological tank has gone on strike. No, not even on strike, just isn’t home. And I have no idea where she’s gone. Perhaps she has a secret life that I know nothing about.
How do you motivate yourself? What motivates you? And what do you do when you don’t feel motivated and need to get something done that only you can do? These are my questions today, and perhaps questions that every writer will ask herself some day. Usually I can fake it till I make it but today it’s just not working.
So I decided to write through this feeling to see what emerged.
I don’t want to. That’s the 4 year old part of me stamping my feet. This is the part of me that has downed tools the last few mornings and is refusing to get on with things. Now that I stop and look I know why it’s happening. I know I’ve been pushing myself to get this writing done. And I know I hate being told what to do, even by myself.
(I’m doing the NaNoWriMo, writing a novel in a month, which started in officially in November. Yes I know I don’t have to. I could stop at any time. but I’m committed now. I’ve given myself my word. But I just can’t get into it. I also know that feeling can change in any moment and the writing can come alive and it’s like falling madly in love. It makes all this drudge worthwhile. ).
But just knowing why won’t necessarily change it. I can see it’s my child brain (the 4 year old) that is out of sorts right now, an essential part of my creative brain function. And I need her on the job to keep working on this novel writing project.
Diablog with the 4 year old brain function
Hmmm. The 4 year old is ignoring me. Maybe I can trick her into doing the work?
Oops I think she heard me. I’d better sit down and have a chat to her.
Big Me: hello little one.
Kid ignores me. She has her back to me with arms folded.
Big Me: you look upset little friend.
Kid keeps ignoring me.
Big Me: I check my phone and think about the weather. I feel stuck. An impasse.
Kid: kicking stones.
Big Me: I don’t know what to do kiddo.
Kid: well don’t call me kiddo for a start. I’m not stupid you know.
Big Me: sorry.
Kid: you should be too.
Big Me: sorry. What did I do wrong?
Kid: you make me work and work and don’t let me play, even when I’m tired. You just push me and I don’t get to have any fun lately. It’s slave labor. I’ve had enough. I’m going to work for someone who appreciates me.
Big Me: look I’m really sorry. I’ve been under the pump lately and just haven’t had time to play. I don’t think I remember how to play to be honest.
Kid: you’re right there. So leave me alone and let me play.
Big Me: you don’t look like you’re playing to me.
Kid: because I’m talking to you drongo.
Big Me: you seem cranky, not playful.
Kid: well what do you expect if someone just keeps making you work all day long for peanuts, keeps you locked up and never lets you out to play. Wouldn’t you be cranky?
Big Me: well I guess so. I’m cranky most of the time too.
Kid: see. Don’t keep checking your phone every time I’m talking.
Big Me: sorry it’s just a habit.
Kid: yes you do it when you’re uncomfortable or don’t know what to do. Do you think I don’t know that?
Big Me: now I just feel bad. But I don’t know what to do or how to fix things.
Kid: you cant fix me I’m not broken.
Big Me: well I mean I don’t know how to make things better. Make things up to you so you don’t feel so cranky and like you want to leave me. What can I do?
Kid: ok that’s a good start.
Big Me: well what do you want me to do?
Kid: hmm, let me think about it for a while.
Big Me: I don’t have much time.
Kid folds her arms and turns her back again.
Big Me: what? What did I do now?
Big Me, looks at the phone and checking for messages.
Big Me: look I think I’m going to try and get someone else in to help with this project. Why don’t you go and play with the neighbors.
Silence. Pouting. Frowning.
Big Me: ok, ok, I’m sorry that was a joke.
Kid: not funny. You really have no idea how to treat me do you. I’ve put up with this long enough. Walking away.
Big Me: sorry. Please don’t go. I can’t replace you.
Kid: no that’s right. Keeps walking.
Big Me: where are you going?
Kid: anywhere but here.
Big Me: following. I really am sorry. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what you need. Can’t you help me?
Kid: turns around and looks into my eyes. Looks very sad like she’s been crying.
Big Me: you look really sad.
Kid: I am really sad. I’m lonely when you ignore me or try to hurry me up. I’m only trying to help you and you treat me so badly. Yes I’m sad about that.
Big Me: I’m sorry. I really am sorry. I’ve been busy.
Kid: looks away, crying quietly.
Big Me: I’ve ignored you haven’t I?
Big Me: what can I do to make it up to you? Why don’t we sit down here on this fence and hold hands?
Kid: smiles a little. Ok.
Me & kid, sit on fence and we hold hands and watch the sky.
Big Me thinks: I want to check my phone. I’m bored, but says nothing and leaves phone in pocket.
Big Me: what do you like to do on Saturdays?
Kid: sit on a fence with you.
Big Me: anything else?
Kid: not really. Watch the clouds and listen to the magpie.
Big Me: nice. How long for do you think?
Kid pulls her hand away and folds her arm.
Big Me: sorry. I’m new at this. Why don’t I tell you a story?
Kid looks up smiling. Yes please.
Big Me: ok a story. Let me think. Hmm…….
Kid: do you need some help?
Big Me: yes please. Can you help me?
Kid: yes stories are my best thing.
Big Me: ok what if you tell me a story then.
Kid: or we could do it together.
Big Me: you start.
Kid: ok. … Once upon a time there was a very busy man. He was so busy that he forgot his children. The end.
Big Me: is that it? But you need some action in a story. That’s a nothing happens in this story, story.
Kid: but don’t you see it’s about you.
Big Me: yes but it’s not really a story.
Kid: but it starts with once upon a time….
Big Me: what about plot and action, something needs to happen to call it a story.
Kid: you tell it then. Tell me how this story ends.
Big Me: well once there was …
Kid: once upon a time.
Big Me: ok, once upon a time there was a very busy man who forgot his children. Then one day when he was busy at his desk he looked up and realized the house had grown silent. He left his work and went to find his children. He searched high and low, in the yard around the house and even under the house, but his children were nowhere to be seen. He called and called and called and ran through the village calling their names but no one had seen his children.
Kid: what were their names?
Big Me: I don’t know it doesn’t really matter.
Kid: yes it matters very much because otherwise how will he know them when he’s finds them if they don’t have names.
Big Me: ok their names were April, March and May.
Kid: are they boys or girls?
Big Me: it doesn’t matter.
Kid: yes of course it matters.
Big Me: ok. 2 girls and a boy.
Kid: which ones are which?
Big Me: hmmm… April and May are the girls and March is a boy.
Kid: and how old are they?
Big Me: this is turning into a very long story and we haven’t even found out why the children have disappeared. But ok, April is 10, March is 8, and May is 6. Can I continue now?
Kid: please do.
Big Me: the man ran and ran calling to the children,
Kid: April, March and May.
Big Me: yes thanks. But no one had seen them. Finally the man sat down on the edge of the forest and wept. He was so exhausted, and upset that he had lost his children and he couldn’t stop crying.
Kid: see what happens when you lose your children.
Big Me: yes the man was very sad. He was crying so much that he didn’t see the lovely woman standing in front of him looking down with great kindness.
Kid: a fairy?
Big Me: maybe. In a gentle voice she said, “why do you weep my good man?” And the man looked up through his tears and saw the lovely lady, and said, “I’ve lost my children.” And he began to weep again.
“Oh dear,” said the beautiful woman, “what are their names, perhaps I can help you find them?”
Kid: see lucky they have names or the lovely lady couldn’t help to find them.
Big Me: yes thankyou. And by the way what’s your name?
Kid: I’ll tell you at the end. Ok?
Big Me: yeah ok? Will I get on with the story?
Kid: yes please.
Big Me: so the man told the lovely lady their names.
Kid: April, March and May.
Big Me: yes thankyou. And the lovely lady said, “yes I know those children. I can help you find them. Follow me.” The man quickly dried his eyes and followed the beautiful woman who was rapidly disappearing through the forest. He ran behind her, almost losing sight of her several times, until finally she stopped.
When the man caught up with her and she turned to face him. Instead of a beautiful woman she had become an ugly hag and started laughing at him in a malicious cackle.
“There are your sweet little children.” She said pointing down into a pit in the ground. “I am fattening them up to eat for my birthday,” said the old hag and started cackling again. There were many children in the deep pit, and they cried and whimpered at the sound of her terrible laugh. The children’s eyes were so stained with tears and dirt they didn’t see their father standing overhead. Quick as a flash the man pushed the horrid woman into the pit.
Kid: oh no, what about the children. Now she’ll be in the pit with the children.
Big Me: oh yeah that’s not such a good plan is it. What should he do then?
Kid: hmmm. The man has to trick her into getting the children out somehow and then he can free them. There might be some kind of spell on them. They might turn into pigs if he doesn’t make her release them.
Big Me: hmm yes of course. So, the man didn’t shove the hag into the pit but asked her, “when is your birthday, good woman?”
“Tomorrow,” said the hag. “Then let me help you prepare the feast for you birthday. It is too much work to do alone.”
“How do I know I can trust you? You will try to free them the moment I’m not looking.”
Big Me: Ok I’m stuck now. Got any ideas?
Kid: he has to make a pact with her, for his life.
Big Me: but how will that save the children? Not much help if he dies, is it?
Kid: yes you’re right. What about the kids? He needs to get the kids to help too.
Big Me: yeah. Ok. By now the kids were listening. April, March and May, knew that their papa had come to save them even though they couldn’t see because their eyes were so dirty. The children knew their father would never betray them to the wicked witch. He was just a dumb fuck who worked too much.
Kid: you can’t swear in a kid’s story.
Big Me: sorry. He was just a dumb arse who worked too much but he wasn’t bad. Better?
Kid: not much. Can we get on with it the kids are cold and dirty down there.
Big Me: So their father said again,” let me help you prepare the children for your birthday….” but before the man could finish his sentence the witch pushed him into the pit and threw the lid over it. And the world went dark.
His children rushed up to him in the dark and hugged and kissed him and they all wept. He told them how sorry he was for neglecting them and they all cried some more. Together they hatched a plan. The end.
Kid: you can’t end there.
Big Me: why not. He found his kids. That’s what matters. Maybe they get out maybe they don’t but at least he knows how important they are to him.
Kid: yeah but I want to know how he saves them.
Big Me: we can save that for another day. Do you think you could come and work on this project with me now?
Kid: what about another story first.
Big Me: well I have to go and do some work. I’m glad we had this chat. And I’ll come and see you every day and we can go to the beach or tell a story. But do you think you can help me now?
Kid: is that the only reason you told me the story to get me to help you?
Big Me: well maybe it started like that but then I liked being with you. And I loved making up stories with you. We could play while we work?
Kid: maybe. Can we have ice-cream?
Big Me: sure thing kiddo. Sorry. What is your name?
Kid: Proserpina. Some have called me Prospero.
Big Me: wow that’s a big name for a little girl.
Kid: yes it’s a name I have to grow into. But I’m big on the inside. Much bigger than I look, like the Tardis in Doctor Who, only not so square.
Big Me: well I like you a lot. And I like Doctor Who.
Kid: thanks. I like me too.
Big Me: you’re funny kiddooo…. I mean Proserpina.
Kid: can we get ice-cream now and cut the jokes about my name.
Big Me: sure thing. Come on.
So that is what I do when I’m stuck in Ho-hum-humdrum. Yeah it’s a waste of time but more fun than moping about and holding on tight to nothing like Ebenezer Scrooge, especially this close to Christmas.