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Cat Vacuuming

January 7, 2014

“Cat vacuuming” is one of my favorite expressions.  Briefly, it means work which is done to avoid actual work.  “Oh, I can’t write that short story today.  I have to…vacuum the cat, that’s the ticket.”  It’a procrastination or avoidance that feels like productivity.  Unfortunately, I’m a master at cat vacuuming.

Right now, I ought to be writing poetry (aka, what I’m going to school for).  I love writing poetry; I love the intellectual exercise of placing words, the best words, beside each other, the challenge of finding the right sound or line break.  But, alas, I’ve not been doing very much of that this break.  I’ve taken some notes, some lines, even whole stanzas, but it’s been a fractured process.

I think I’ve hit a form of writer’s block–not in the sense that I’m out of ideas, but rather that I’m afraid to write them down.  The mental image of vigorously drawn X’s and strikethrough lines keeps me from the page.  So instead, I’ve been reading.  A lot.  Since finals ended I’ve finished nine books, and I’m working through three more now.  Even when school’s in session I don’t read that much.

Sure, I can say that I’ve accomplished some things.  I’d never read any Isaac Asimov, and my knowledge of modern Latino poetry was nonexistent.  But, subconsciously, all this reading has been a distraction from writing.  As I came to this conclusion, I started feeling guilty–guilty!–about starting The Red Badge of Courage a few hours ago.  “I shouldn’t be reading Stephen Crane.  I should be being Stephen Crane.  (Except not in prose, and contemporary, and–this train of thought is getting away from me).”

Perhaps a similar type of cat vacuuming mentality kept me from blogging for much the past semester.  I mean, yeah, the broken laptop broke my routine pretty hard.  But even when the opportunity presented itself I found something else that needed doing.  “Oh, I can’t blog now, because…well, I still haven’t finished reading On the Nature of Things.

I realize a lot of writers consider blogging a form of cat vacuuming, but…actually I’ve got no rebuttal.  But I want to start this thing up again.  Maybe writing in one form will spur me to action in another.

Sorry that this post was not particularly insightful, but sometimes one must write three incoherent and poorly thought out stanzas before the poem’s actual topic presents itself.


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