How to Write at Home: Stay Guilty

So obviously the week starts on Monday then it’s Thursday, which is of course practically Sunday, and I’m back sitting there doing nothing Sunday evening wondering why I never get anything done, all the while promising myself that starting tomorrow, Monday, I am going to be a different person, with lists and ticks, goals and graphs. But that doesn’t happen does it? How could it? I can not not be me, can I? Can you?

Working for myself, staring at the text, sitting at my desk has meant the arrival of a new guilt: not doing enough guilt, because enough is infinite right? When is it enough? Enough money? Enough love? Enough butter? Enough time? There is never enough time any more.

Apparently our hearts beat faster as children hence the ability to have those enormous childhood days, with about fifty seven hours in them, our mini day lives scrolled out in front of us far over the horizon. Days when our imagination transports us far off to pillow forts in the sky. Nowadays the day begins at a canter speeding up to a gallop, slows briefly around two for around an hour and then sprints off again and it is ten o’clock at night which is basically time to get up the next morning.

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Back when I worked in more conventional jobs, in restaurants or as a teacher, time was a different animal. I was always scrambling to get through the time quicker. Constantly trying to make time fly. Working harder and doing more seemed to help with the trudging and wading through work’s soupy humid time. When you work Monday to Friday you go in on Monday, work like a dog all week, then discover it is only 09:45 Monday morning and you have made the wrong life decisions.

Guilt was also more controlled back then. I generally did not need to feel guilty outside of work and I definitely did not have to do any work when I was not working. That has all changed. Now I feel guilty for not working when I am working, a somewhat bewildering experience akin to arguing with a mirror in the semi-dark.

That is not to say that writing at a desk is not a brilliant job. It is. Ask any of those writers who went off home early, they’d tell you if they were still around, they’d tell you how well all that beautiful shiny narcissism worked out. Writing does involve an inordinate amount of time spent thinking about myself, sure. But when I am thinking about myself then I am actually two people (stay with me/us). And then I am wondering is the other Tom losing it, never sure which of the two I am siding with or lying to, both are me right? So who wins?

Me. Every time.

Keep working, relax, take some time off, life is finite, enough is infinite.

Do more, do less, do both

Stay guilty

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This post first appeared on my thomasbartlettbooks.com

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Thomas Bartlett
Writer
My name is Thomas Bartlett, Americans Bombing Paris is my first novel. I am also a published ghost writer. I was born in Belfast and grew up in Galway. I lived in Paris for four years and Spain for two. Now I live in Dublin. I have been a teacher and a restaurant manager, a waiter and a cook. I have finally alighted on what I was always going to be, a writer.
1 Comment

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  1. Elizabeth Chesky 3 years ago

    A very interesting post, Thomas, and so true. These are familiar feelings given a colorful new articulation. Thank you!

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