Writing sucks. Something’s brewing. And Jaime Oliver is lovely.
I don’t really believe that first bit. As frustrating as I find it at times, writing is a joy.
But I feel as though I have something caught in my gray matter. It’s like having a bit of something stuck between my back molars, except it’s in my brain.
I can’t quite reach it, and no matter how much I try to distract myself it’s still there aggravating me.
At first I blamed a statistic I heard on NPR. According to a recent report, most Americans my age have less than $25,000 put away for retirement. Initially I took comfort in a ‘well, at least I’m not alone’ sort of way. And then I had a complete ‘we are so screwed’ freak out.
The very next day, I discovered the minimum requirement for a woman my age to maintain her current weight is an hour of moderate exercise per day. To maintain. That means no weight gain, but more importantly, no weight loss. In other words, if I want to actually shift my growing meno-pot – the roll of fat that magically appeared the day after I turned fifty and has a mind of its own – if I want to have any influence on it at all, I’m looking at eight or nine hours of moderate exercise per week. That’s not counting the yoga I already practice. I have part-time jobs that require less investment of time.
(You may remember that I discovered the direct correlation between the number of words written per week and the width of one’s ass. This statistic was news I could do without.)
Thus began the preoccupation with my future as a morbidly obese seventy-year old with no retirement savings. And if I paint a bleak future to obsess over, I’m not writing.
And not writing feels just like having something caught between your teeth.
But wait just one cotton pickin’ minute. I know this feeling. It’s familiar. I’ve been here before. This is part of the writing process. At least my writing process. Eventually the floodgates to this little word storm going on in my parietal lobe will open and the words will come gushing out.
So I can let go of the low-level anxiety I feel because I haven’t looked at When We Come Home since I came home two Fridays ago.
Nothing bad is going to happen because I’m more interested in blog posts and processing (yes, still) my week in Washington. I haven’t abandoned Maggie and the WASP story because I’m enthralled by what’s happening in Green Acres.
Well. That’s certainly a relief.
So what does Jaime Oliver have to do with all of this?
There’s enough self-doubt in me to stop an elephant at fifty paces. I’m easily distracted by what other people think my life should be.
But I’ve watched Jaime Oliver for the past ten years as he grew from The Naked Chef to Savior of the School Lunch. He has landed in America, and at the end of the premier episode of Food Revolution he sat in front of the camera and talked very earnestly about why he’s doing what he’s doing. He spoke of being guided by his heart. In his experience, those times when he has not followed his heart and instinct, well, those projects have gone belly up. Disasters. But when he follows his heart, when he trusts his instincts – everything turns out all right in the end.
I’m not so naïve that I don’t understand that Jaime Oliver is a corporation. But I believe, in that moment at least, he was one man with a message. I believe he believes he can change the world.
I don’t want to change the world. I want to write. I want my books published and read. Maybe changing the world would be easier.
I know hard work, devotion, self-belief is all part of the business of writing. But so is following that base instinct that tells you “This is it. This is what I should be doing. I can do this.”
I can do this.