Because every writer has trouble with procrastination…
We sat on the sofa underneath the wooden awning attached to the back of our house. We were procrastinating.
I had an assignment due at midnight. Six hundred words on the value of going to business school. The latest ranking of the nation’s top business school was released the day before – the first of several to be released that year. It was a little after eight, and I found the sunset, the breeze against my skin and the squirrel running up the oak tree to be much more interesting.
“I’m taking the job, it makes the most sense,” Justin said. He held his phone and rubbed its case as if there was a stain. The job, an assistant manager at his uncle’s liquor store, was offered to him that morning. He had to decide by midnight..
“But I really don’t want to work for my Uncle,” he said. “I promised myself that I’d never work for my uncle.”
“We’ve all lied to ourselves,” I said. The sky turned a deep orange and I couldn’t see the squirrel in the oak tree anymore. I could hear it, though. I listened to the squirrel because I found the sudden, quick sounds it made to be much more interesting.
“The money isn’t bad, and I’m sure my Uncle would let me take the summer holidays off.”
“Just call him and say you’re gonna take the job,” I said. “You know you are.”
Justin stood up and tossed his phone on the sofa. “And you just write the article. How hard is it? Take the top schools, look up some facts and that’s it.”
“They want me to tell a story,” I said.
“And you write fiction, so what’s the big deal?”
“I wonder if most people find the school rankings more interesting than the actual experience of college. I’d say so.” I pulled my legs onto the sofa and tossed Justin his phone.
“You must have hated business school,” my roommate said. He went into the house and I heard him on the phone, telling his uncle he would take the job.
I didn’t hate it. Business school was good to me, it was what I needed at the time. Something practical, because I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. I wanted to believe I was a corporate man, but I knew I was lying to myself.
And that’s when it hit me. It wasn’t inspiration, but something like relief. I knew I found the angle to the piece due in a couple hours. But I also knew in another moment or so, the angle I found I would consider self-pitying or narcissistic.
By ten-thirty I had no choice but to write. The idea I was on at that moment was the topic for the article. I wrote it and sent it off. I felt proud and I felt scared. I told myself it was great and I told myself it was awful. I also knew I had another piece due the following midnight, and I couldn’t wait to be back on the sofa, finding things that were much more interesting.