"Writers go out of their way to secure their solitude. And then, having secured it, they go out of their way to squander it."
- Don DeLillo
I found this quote recently, while reading a book called The World Split Open. It's a book about writers, and it's actually taken from speeches they've given - so not quite the same feel as essays, but it's interesting to see the mindset of different authors and how they go about writing and translating their innards to the page. I loved this quote though, because it is so, so true.
My writing world revolves around nap/quiet time in many ways. It is so important for me to get everyone in place for my two hours of solitude each day. But once everyone is settled, and I am holed up in the office, bent over the chair I use as a desk - since my real desk is too tall for the shortness that is me - it takes me about 30 minutes to get myself centered and down to task. And then, about 30 minutes later I always come up for air to squander some more of those precious minutes.
Today, I sat looking out the window, watching the branches bend up and down, up and down. I apparently found it quite riveting. My husband, home for the day for other reasons, asked what I was doing. "Oh, thinking." And it's true. As I sat there, an important thought/plot-line had come to mind. A thought that solved a very important problem. In fact, there was a pretty huge part of me that wanted to shush my husband now that a seed had begun to germinate. Because words, noise, outside reality - they could take that germinating seed and squash it in the ground.
Recently, I've been concentrating on not letting the internet be the way I squander my time. I had listened to some podcast - I can't even remember now - that talked about the importance of empty thought to creativity. And I realized that instead of listening to my empty thoughts I was picking up my telephone and letting it distract me. So, I curtailed which apps I was allowed to look at during the day. I made myself walk to a window and sit silently when I needed a break from the children. I went into the bathroom - oh, come on, I am not the only one - without the tiny computer glued to my hand. And in the silence and the emptiness I found a world I had been missing.
I still have many ways to improve in controlling this behavior, but I do find it liberating to say: "I do not need to look at that screen to fill up this moment." I can be here, alone, with me, and still gain fulfillment and calm.
I will squander my moments, but I will do it on my own. I will do it my way.
I still believe - to massive degrees - in squandering time. We need highs and lows. We needs breaths and pauses. But we need to take back our squandered time. We need to hold it close for the creative juice it is. We need to listen to our minds.