by Risa Green
I wish that I could say that I’ve been productive and prolific and motivated over the last couple of months, but I can’t. Writing is a funny kind of a job, especially when you’re not under any kind of deadline, except for the ones that you make up in your own head (I will finish by Thanksgiving. Okay, Christmas. Okay, spring break. Okay, by summer, and this time, I mean it!) But really, it’s the kind of thing where you’re either in the zone, or you’re not. And I have been out of the zone for a very, very long time. So long, in fact, that I feel like a liar every time I say yes when someone asks me if I work. So long, in fact, that I have stopped saying yes all together, and have started asking if by do I work, they mean theoretically or in actuality. Because theoretically, yes, I am working on a book. But in actuality, I have not worked on said book since sometime back in October.
It all started with the auction that I co-chaired  for my daughter’s school. Although technically it was a volunteer position, it still took up all of my time, I didn’t really enjoy doing it, and it totally stressed me out. Which sounds a lot like a job to me. And felt a lot like a job, especially since it left me with no time to do my real job. Which is how I rationalized the fact that I didn’t write a single page while I was working on the auction for six months. Book? Oh, wish I could, but I have this damn auction. But then the auction ended. At the end of February. And have I written a page since? No.
Of course, I needed a few weeks to recoup from all of the late nights and aggravation of the auction. And then I needed to clean out my closet, because I just couldn’t work with all of that clutter. In my closet. And then I had to clean out the kids’ closets, and the bathroom cabinets, and my entire office, and then, of course, I felt compelled, as if by an unseen force, to clean out the junk drawers in the kitchen. And as everybody knows, when you’re cleaning out the junk drawers in the kitchen, there must be something you really don’t want to do, because nobody decides to just clean out the junk drawers in the kitchen. And before I knew it, when my husband would ask me how my day was, I began answering him by saying that it was horrible, because all I did all day was clean out closets and go to the market and pick up the kids and cook dinner. Which is not the kind of day that belongs to someone who defines herself as a working mother. But still, I couldn’t bring myself to write. There was just no zone.
And then last week I hit rock bottom.
Last week, on a day that felt just like every other boring, mind-numbing day of my post-excuse, I mean, post-auction, existence, my husband asked me how my day had been, and I burst into tears. And when he asked me what was wrong, I had a hysterical breakdown about the fact that my day sucked, because the most exciting thing that had happened to me was that the Williams Sonoma catalogue came, and I was actually excited because I was hoping that there might be some good new recipes in it. And my husband just kind of cocked his head and looked at me, the way a dog does when he knows you’re talking to him but doesn’t quite understand what you’re saying, and he said, I think that maybe you need to get some help. And I knew that he was right.
So the next day, I called….my agent. (Hah. You probably thought I was going to say my therapist, unless you’re a writer who has hit rock bottom, because if you are, then you know that nobody can pick you up quite like a good, fast-talking agent). My agent, whom I have been avoiding for the last six months because I was too scared/embarrassed to tell her that I have made absolutely no progress whatsoever on the book that I’ve allegedly been working on for the last two and half years. And do you know what she said? She said that maybe I need a fresh start. Because when one is cleaning out junk drawers instead of working on one’s book, one’s book is obviously not working. And she gave me some suggestions, and I stopped crying, and when I hung up, it was like a cloud had lifted and magical fairy writing dust had been sprinkled atop my head. And suddenly, I could feel the zone closing in around me, enveloping me in its warmth.
The next day, I sat down at my spotless, perfectly organized  desk, in my spotless, perfectly organized office (right next to my spotless, color-coordinated closet), and I worked. The whole day. And when my husband came home and asked me how my day was, I told him that it was great, because it was.