My normal day goes something like this: I wake up at 6:30, eat breakfast, take a shower, fix my hair. I tutor Ukrainians on Skype from 7:30 to 10:30 then I work on writing until lunch. (Depending on how things go, lunch either comes really early or really late.) After lunch, I might do more writing or work on math curriculum. If I’m feeling stir-crazy, I take a walk or go to the grocery store. At five I finish up my work and head to yoga class, or Paul and I might go for a run around Green Lake. Then it’s time for dinner, guitar practice, reading, relaxing. I’m usually in bed by 10:30.
I like it. It’s a good schedule.
Which is why Friday was a mistake. On Friday I got the crazy notion that I would go to yoga at noon in order to try out a different instructor. This led me to make the choice of not showering. I figured I’d get sweaty at yoga and could shower after class.
It was a logical decision, but when I don’t take a shower, I feel disgusting. And so all morning, I sat at my computer, trying revise my novel, but I kept getting distracted by my greasy hair and face. My eyes felt heavy, my body was tired. Taking a shower is the way I wake up in the morning, and without one, I felt like my day hadn’t really started.
I tried to tell myself it wasn’t a big deal. There were people in my yoga classes who hadn’t showered in weeks. I didn’t need to be clean to have a good, productive day. But still, I didn’t get much work done, and I felt like I was wasting time.
I left for yoga with relief, already looking forward to it being over. I entered the studio, rolled out my mat, and waited. After this, I thought, I can go home and shower and eat lunch, and then I’ll really be able to get some writing done.
“Let’s get started,” the yoga teacher said. “Today I want you to promise yourself that you are going to be really present in your body, really present in your practice.”
But that instruction was lost on me. For the entire class, my mind kept zooming ahead to when yoga would be over, when I would get to go home and shower and start my day.
Finally we lay back in shivasana, and I was glad. This meant class was almost over. A minute went by, then another, then another. Oh my god, I thought, this class has been going on for forever!
Class let out, and I hurried to my car. When I got in, I stared at the clock. It was 1:45. The class had run thirty minutes over! I felt sick with annoyance. By the time I got back home and took a shower and ate lunch it would be 2:45 in the afternoon. I was pissed at the yoga teacher for wasting my time and ruining my day.
But deep down I knew it wasn’t his fault. It was my fault for placing so much importance on one little thing. As if my entire day hinged on a shower.
For many years now I’ve had this idea that I have to get a novel published as soon as possible because until that happens I’m not going to be a “real” writer. Getting a book published will be the start of my career, of my life.
And so I keep churning out novels. I’ve now written four of them, two in the past 12 months alone. But none of them are very good. Maybe because I’ve been writing them with the mind-set of getting them over with. Instead of enjoying the process of writing a novel, instead of being present with my characters and the developing plot, my mind is always zooming ahead to how I need to finish the novel, so I can get it published and get started with my life.
As if my entire life hinges on publishing a book.
Yes, it’s something I want to do, and yes, I will feel more like a real writer when it happens. But I want the book I publish to be something I’m proud of. Not something I slopped together just for the sake of getting it done.
I need to stop feeling disgusting because I haven’t published a book yet. It’s something I want to do eventually, yes, but I should enjoy the process of writing, and not worry so much about feeling a little greasy.
Whether I feel like it or not, my life has already started.