Back when my children were babies, they got to an age where people suggested a “lovey,” a transitional object, meant to give the little guys something to snuggle with that isn’t my husband, me, or more accurately, my boobs. Often, loveys are small blankets, but since everyone spends the first year yelling about how you shouldn’t put blankets in your baby’s crib so they don’t suffocate, it seemed odd to me to put a blanket that was the exact size of a baby’s head in there. So, I gave my kids small knitted animals – for my daughter, an elephant named Elliot Ellsworth, attorney for the indigent, and for my son, Martin McKissack, monkey detective. (In case it’s not obvious, that’s another story, one I’m “working” on.)
Elliot and Martin are well-loved. By which I mean, they are bedraggled, dirty and seriously stink from being chewed on, dragged around and slept on. (All six of them, because you gotta have back-ups.) My kids LOVE these things and can’t do without them.
Unfortunately, when it comes to my novel, I seem to have picked up a few well-loved loveys of my own – procrastination loveys that keep me comforted and make me feel safe. Things I do whenever my book is screaming, “Come work on me!” And whereas for my children, a lovey is developmentally appropriate, for me, I’m afraid it’s just sad.
- Bills: Y’all, I’m crazy efficient at these. Also, just opening the mail in general. I am all over it. Because there might be something SUPER important in there and it’ll just take a few minutes to deal with, so let me just get that done now and then I’ll work on my novel. Uh-huh.
- Crossfit: Yep, I said it. I’m addicted. It’s in my calendar 5 days a week. Right where “Write” should probably be. Finish my book? That’s crazy. 40 pull-ups and squatting more than I weigh? Totally reasonable.
- NYT.com: I refresh this site like it’s my job. I am always one hundred and ten percent up-to-date on the headlines happening in the world. The worst part is, though, I don’t always even delve into the stories. I just obsessively read the headlines again and again. I occasionally add People.com to my list but only once or twice a week because a few years ago when I was working on another draft of my book, I fell into the rabbit hole of celebrity gossip. It took forever to get out and I left part of my brain down there. Never again, I vowed. So, New York Times for me.
- Nails: Ooh, I don’t even want to tell y’all this one because it’s my most embarrassing lovey. I tell myself I’ll do some “scene thinking” while I get a manicure or edit pages while getting a pedicure, but it rarely happens. Instead, I have great nails and no scenes.
- My kids: I don’t feel super badly about this one, to be honest. I do, however, sometimes use them as an excuse: Can’t figure out what my character should say in this scene? Oh, wait, are my kids playing “Run?” The name says it all. Struggling with my character’s motivations for behaving the way she does? Oh, goodness, I think I just heard a head bonk that only I can address. Still, to an almost three year old and a one year old, I hang the sun, the moon, the stars and everything in between every day. You don’t get to be EVERYTHING to someone for that long, so I’m okay with this one. Pretty soon I’ll just be one big, shambling embarrassment to them, and I’ll have to comfort myself with memories of music classes and playground trips and big, running hugs and “Mama, you’re squished” wrestling matches. That’s worth it.
So, there you have it – an accounting of my loveys. All the ways I avoid my book. And why? Because I’m fucking terrified of it. Novels are hard. I’ve been stuck at a certain point with mine for ages, and I don’t know how to move past it. So I tell myself I’m thinking about it, but in reality, I’m just finding ways to comfort myself so I feel okay about avoiding it.
But, recently a friend and fellow Incubator alum gave me a present. At a Grub Street party, I had coveted a pair of red shiny opera gloves in the prop photo tent to the point of nearly committing larceny. I mean, check out how cool I look stroking this horse head:
And then, a few weeks later, my very own pair arrived in the mail. They are bright red, shiny and go up past my elbows. They are the sort of gloves Pretty Woman would have worn to an opera staged by Kit DeLuca and the “Welcome to Hollywood! What’s your Dream?” guy. Basically, perfect gloves if you are a classy lady like me. Gloves that mock you with their fabulousness and make you want to measure up.
And what role will these gloves play in my novel writing, you ask? Well, now that I’ve laid out all my procrastination loveys for y’all, I’m going to try to say goodbye to them.
I’m going to pull on my gloves (after I cut the fingertips off so they don’t slide off the keys), listen to that one song that always gets me into the spirit of my book, and open that file up and start typing. I’m going to do it first thing every day, before all the other stuff gets in the way. And I’m going to finish this draft and make it as fabulous as these gloves are. Because, while there’s little comfort to be found in these new loveys, I’m thinking there’s a whole lot of productive novel writing.