Thursday, September 29, 2011

In praise of distractions

It seems the bigger and more important the task at hand, the more likely it is that something entirely unrelated needs my undivided attention. And I don't mean the TV or the bottom of my wine glass. I mean useful, productive, even choresy kinds of things. When I was in school, looming exams always caused an urgent need to clean my room. (Also cut my own hair -- surprisingly successful.)

So now that I have a Giant Project on the go, one in which all Manitobans have invested their faith and tax dollars (under the auspices of the Manitoba Arts Council), I've been spending a lot of time writing the wrong poems. Not bad poems, just not the poems I Should Be Writing. Instead of buckling down and delving in to 1880s dustbowl Saskatchewan or turn-of-the-last-century circus culture (all of which involves research, reading and, gulp, serious work) I've been whiling away my writing time on non sequitur type one-offs. An autumn poem wistful about summer. A piece about sheep shearing. I feel  naughty, guilty and, secretly, thrilled. It's the writing equivalent of calling in sick and going to the beach for the day. (Lovely, but it causes moments of panic in a conscientious gal like me.)

I have to remind myself that all those exams were eventually written and passed. In the meantime, there are clean rooms and days at the beach to enjoy. After all, my giant is as patient as I decide he'll be.