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#4: The Quitter (an excerpt)

An excerpt from the book (which will be coming out along with the CD...unless I quit):


I quit things. Sports. Workout routines. Nutritional plans. Relationships. Organizational makeovers. Financial goals. Art projects. Resolutions. Sentences. I quit music. I quit writing. Quitting is a hobby, a habit. Start. Quit. Blink.

I am one paragraph and three songs into this music and book project. You may think it’s too far to turn back; but you would only think that if you didn’t know me very well. I can quit at any time. It’s my security blanket. There is always a chicken exit. No need to panic. Go back to sleep, Dumpling. It’ll all be over soon.

This is a fitting excerpt because I am right exactly at the very familiar point where I usually put on my shoes and walk. I won't. But my shoes look very comfortable, and I could use a stretch.

I am sitting in the middle of a disastrously messy house. Every room needs attention. I'm not talking about "picking up." I'm talking about a complete organizational overhaul. It is overwhelming. That is why I am sitting in the middle of it writing this instead of fixing it.

This has happened with every single novel I have ever drafted. I can barf out the characters and the general story line. But five seconds into rewrites--reorganizing, rethinking, reconceptualizing, rearranging, re-re-ing--I get overwhelmed, put on my shoes, and walk.

Since the moment I was born, I have had issues with organization. I'm sure my umbilical cord was tangled and covered in pocket lint. If the fate of the world ever depends on my ability to find my shit and get somewhere on time, please accept my advance apologies for your death and the deaths of everyone you know. (And also for the end of the world. Sorry.)

There are so many more pressing issues to be overwhelmed by, and I am, to be certain (which is why I rarely watch the news or read the newspaper). If I don't know where to put my tax documents, I surely don't know where to put the world's despair. But I'll be damned if the thought of uploading and learning the required software to design my f-ing CD cover doesn't make me need a sandwich, a nap, and an ugly cry.

The problem is that the creative part is over. (It isn't. But it mostly is.) (Except for the book. Damn this book. Who's stupid idea was this?) The part where I run through an open field giggling and tossing flowers into the wind is done. Now I need direction and a deadline. Now comes the part where we mess with the gadgets and learn new terms and administrate and _____ I don't even know. I don't know what I'm supposed to be doing now. Something about mastering. And... whatever.

You know what I know how to do? I know how to play the piano and the guitar. And I know how to sing songs and write them. (But don't ask me how, because I don't, really. All I know how to do is make stuff up.) The end.

The good news is that Jon at My Humble Abode Studios and Ryan at Sound Farm do actually know what to do next. They've done it 5 billion times. I still reserve the right to lose my mind about it, though.

The book, on the other hand. I'm on my own.

This damn book. That's the new title.

This Damn Book

by Patresa Hartman

I thought, well, surely you can manage to finish 10 essays. Of course you can. Treat them like 10 blogs. I'm even writing them in block paragraph form (like a blog)--an attempt to trick my brain into thinking this is all very informal. Just a casual conversation between two cyber friends who like cats and share a love of potato salad. Delicious, creamy potato salad. Damn my brain. Damn its keen attention to bullshit and trickery.

Get it done, P. Get it done, for shit's sake.

Ironically, the only essay done is the introductory one...about quitting.


PS: That photo up there is one taken during my very fancy and official "photo shoot." I proved myself to be the most awkward, self-conscious model in the history of models, and Melissa Stukenholtz of Gorman House Photography, still managed to capture me looking like a normal person. High praise, Magic Melissa.

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