Sunday, July 11, 2010

Stuck Inside the Box?

Two fabulous posts reflect some of the changes I've made over the last 24 hours. I was going through my methodical way, forcing myself to do stuff on my list while hating every minute of it. The advice from all of you, dear readers, was to step away from the drudgery and work on something that inspires me--in effect, to try something new.

And then I saw Neatorama's post showing Leroy Anderson's little composition entitled "The Typewriter." I was fortunate that my father liked classical music, and as a kid I was exposed to several of Anderson's compositions, and this one is a personal favorite. Who would have thought of making a typewriter into a musical instrument? It works beautifully, too. His "thinking outside the box," to use the modern cliche, turned into fun for my whole family this morning. I showed the video to my kids, then showed it again (at their request).

Another post, by one of my fashionista friends Ordinary Girl, showed a letter she'd written to herself, vowing to take better care of herself and not let stress take over her life. I could not agree more, but it reminded me that this was one of my faults, too, and this year it had really gotten out of hand.

My lists are my aid in life, helping me be far more productive than I would be without them. However, they are also a force to stifle me if I let them take over. Yes, I can get done what I must today, but, at least for the summer, I am going to do what I want every single day, even if it's for an hour. I'm starting to work on my novels, and making them into unique, fascinating manuscripts will be my goal. If that means the dishes start stinking in the sink, or the carpet get a little gross, so be it.

How are the rest of you stepping outside of your own boxes lately? Or do the sides seem too steep? Are you living without the box completely?

I admit to liking the box in the same way I like sonnet form and haiku as opposed to free verse. But a little free verse isn't a bad thing once in a while, is it?


  1. A little bit of self-indulgence can keep you from feeling stifled. That little bit of whimsy can readily become inspiration. Good for you!

  2. I live to make myself and my family happy, nothing less will do.

    If I do something that detracts from that I stop doing it, I make a choice every day to be happy and seek out happiness.

    Never let anything hold you back from seeking happiness, or life wouldn't be worth living. Enjoy it, love it, and share it; what else can you ask for?

    Why would you do something that brings you down?

    Why would you settle for being stressed, miserable or anywhere near it?

    I hope you find the gold lining, because life is special and a onetime thing, so enjoy it.

  3. I read somewhere that writing is not about thinking something up but taking something down onto the paper, in effect listening. Sitting down with pen and paper (or computer) and waiting for whatever is in your heart or head to flow down into your fingers.
    I can't do that when I'm thinking about my to-do list. Which is a shame because I have lots of lists, I love lists. They keep me focused on what I should be doing. But I've learned that they're a guideline only. I can stress out about what I'm supposed to be doing and how long it will take... if I just do those breakfast dishes now, then I can write... So I write my to do lists then put them somewhere where I can't see them.
    Thats the theory anyway. In practice hard to do.
    I also find that when I'm blocked I'm either really tired or something is bugging my subconscious.
    So the only solution for me is rest and play and time out. And the thing bugging my subconscious is usually guilt of some form. Because I'm a mother and I 'should' be spending more time with my kids/baking cakes/keeping the house cleaner/earning more money/etc.
    I hope you get some time to just relax and go easy on yourself. The worst stress is the expectations we place on ourselves.
    We have just finished two weeks of winter school holidays here and the sleep-ins/board games/junk food and day trips have pepped me up a little. Good luck!

  4. Boxes are cardboard containers that appliances and other shit come in and provide a new toy for kids. Boxes are for shelter when you lose your home. Boxes are things them who refuse to donate their body to science go into the ground in. In either case I ain't ready to crawl into one and start thinking.

    Truthfully not being an educated man and forced to retire 20 years before I had planned the hardest part of my days are fighting boredom. It is a never ending so far decade long battle finding new ways to murder minutes.

    Washing dishes and compulsively vacuuming carpets I don't have covering my oak floors ain't a priority until the fly's and spiders start to get in my face. Then I simply have found a different way to get rid of some more time.

    In other words I have no guilt killing time doing what I want to do as opposed to what I am supposed to be doing.

  5. My parents were huge classical music fans. I have a stack of the old LPs (but we never use the turntable).

    I guess it's time to collect some new stuff, huh? Maybe I can pull the industrial rock headphones out of my kids' ears long enough to listen?

  6. Stephanie, you're right--all work and no play makes Shakespeare go crazy!

    Jeff, I do things that bring me down because I should do them. Dishes need doing, trash needs wrapping up, cat boxes need cleaning, papers need grading. But when I don't have to do something, and I force myself to do it, then I'm pressuring myself too much. The key is to find the joy in what I'm doing, or find joy somewhere else.

    Michelle, THAT's what I need to do with my list book--put it out of sight while I'm writing! Then I can just work without thinking of all the other things I need to be doing! Great idea!

    Walking Man, boredom is its own box. Boredom is what will be my world after death if hell exists (and I don't believe in hell). That is the main problem with the research I was doing--it was boring. I hate boredom more than anything, but even if I haven't been getting a lot of writing done, at least I haven't been bored over the last two days!

    The Mother, I don't have any LP's, but man we used them a lot when I was younger. In fact, the whole reason my husband first asked me out is he needed a date to the Vienna Choir Boys (for work), and I was the only girl he knew who had records of their music. That one really worked out well for both of us. Now I just have their music on CDs, since I don't even have a turntable.

  7. Thank you so much Shakespeare for mentioning me! I really really loved the comment you left for me too! I actually just decided to take a break from most of my other interests and passions to focus on my writing since it is truly the one thing I would never be able to live without, and that I would feel lost without.

    I see you as my blogging mentor. You inspire me to be the best person I can be. :)