In April, non-teachers start asking me what I’m doing with summer. I spit out domestic answers, like “I’m going to read” and “I’m going to paint” and “I’ll try to get in shape, maybe run a road race or two,” but these responses rarely satisfy. So they redirect, “No, I mean will you be teaching summer school or traveling somewhere special? Any home rehab ahead?”
To which I usually reply, “Uh…”
I’m not a project-master, at least not of my own projects. Somewhere between conception and completion, the gales calm. The sails sag. I find myself, toes in the water, splashing like a bored child.
Daily or weekly discipline? No trouble—any regimen of mental or physical exercise cuts a path in my life that is quickly a trench. Work? No issue—prefabricated tasks relieve all the formless, messy hours of my life.
Only my own jobs slide down lists and drop into neglect.
Sometimes, if people ask often enough, I’ll invent goals. I’ve planned to clean out and clean every room, very thoroughly, week by week, the whole house. I’ve said I’ll take art classes or listen to lectures on art history or psychology I missed by not taking those courses in college. I’ve promised a full sketchbook, a series of short stories, a regular podcast.
Guess how many I’ve accomplished.
Still, I keep dreaming up new schemes, hoping airing ambitions will make them real, hoping pledging actions out loud will compel me. I’m quixotic and can fail a million times and keep tilting at windmills. Though I can’t answer for why I make these plans or why I can’t complete them, something says checking off just one big box might make every subsequent self-directed task easier. I have to try.
So all this milling about is really a preamble to this summer’s plot—writing and publishing a long lyric essay like the ones I’ve been posting in this blog.
I’ve been researching self-publication sites on the web to see if I can create a beautiful book at minimal cost. I mean to be practical. I have the number of essay-lets I intend to write. My title is ready and so is my subject. The art is nearly complete, as I’ll use doodles like the ones interspersed here. The rest—the actual writing—I’ll undertake as daily discipline, my job between eight and one.
And I’m going to try, dear readers, to think of you as employers. Whether you have expectations or not, I’ll pretend. I’m picturing you waiting for a book and want to fear your disappointment because, clearly, I don’t fear my disappointment enough.
Expect reports. I’ve thrown down my gauntlet and picked it up. We’ll see what happens next.