April 22nd, 2008

ozarque figure

Personal note; ghastly rant...

Yesterday I discovered that I was suffering from acute newsletter-writing block. No matter how sternly I lectured myself, there was just no way I could muster up the backbone necessary to work on my May/June newsletters. Not because they're any harder to write than anything else -- I ordinarily enjoy writing them, and after doing them for more than twenty years it's hard for me to imagine not writing them -- but I was smack up against some sort of psychological barrier. "Suck it up!" I told myself. "There are women in this world that have to get up every morning and walk five miles to get water!" I told myself. And much more in the same vein. None of it had the slightest effect on my spinelessness.

Nor could I think of a single word to post at LiveJournal that anybody might want to read... I was still just as worried as I had been the day before about what people are going to do in these unspeakable times. My husband had come home from town with a long string of horror stories he'd heard at the grocery store and the service station; similar horror stories were coming in from members of my own extended family; things were obviously just as bad as I'd thought they were, and getting worse by the minute. I didn't think any of you would be interested in my horror stories -- I was sure you had horror stories of your own right now that are just as ghastly as my set, and wouldn't welcome any additions. [Note I'm talking about real-world horror here, not the Stephen King variety.]

I thought about how brave anybody -- of any gender or ethnicity -- would have to be to be willing to take on the job of being president of these United States right now. I thought about what it had been like in the U.S. during the Vietnam War, and how that war had been hated as intensely then as the Iraq War is hated today -- but in those days we didn't live in a country where huge numbers of people were working for $7.00 an hour while a select group of other people called CEOs were working for $130 million a year plus bonuses. In those days we did quite a bit of rioting; these days, it seems to me that nobody has enough strength left even to mill about, much less riot. With all that debris in my head, it didn't seem to me that posting my Poverty Soup recipe was going to delight anybody.

In a situation like that, one thing that usually does work for me is to take a day off from the task I'm blocked on and do some other task that day in its place. That costs me nothing; it's just trading one day's work schedule for some other day's work schedule. It's not like taking the day off and spending it at a spa being oiled and buffed and polished and coddled and treated like a CEO. So I spent yesterday -- teeth gritted -- working on the revision of the second edition of The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense, which is going well, and is now in its third draft -- except for the new chapter on e-language, which is only in its second draft. And that turned out to be an effective remedy; this morning I find myself more than willing to go back to the newsletter-writing, happy that my seedlings are up, able to manage a ghastly rant here, and in better order.

But I still have no idea what ordinary non-CEO people are going to do. I do know that a lot of them who had decided they wouldn't bother putting in a garden this year -- mostly because they no longer trust the weather -- have changed their minds about that. And that's a start.