Illusions, Delusions and Regrets

Non, je ne regrette rien

Image by Jon at NDHU via Flickr

“Our job is to fill the page.  Don’t you remember telling me that?  You always said that,” chided Anita earlier this week when we talked about our long-ago job together at a Chicago marketing boutique.  I sheepishly admitted she was right as of course she was.  When we slaved away years ago fashioning copy for annual reports, press releases, ghost-written articles for executives who had neither the time nor the inclination to put their own thoughts on paper and other types of written drivel, I was that annoying megaphone encouraging us on, reminding us that our work was to ‘fill the page’.   

It was ironic then that I couldn’t fill my own pages these days.  I was suffering from a rotten bout of writer’s block.  After talking with my literary coach K, we outlined a plan of attack that included daily writing and the heart-warming illusion of words appearing on the page with lightning-quick speed.   The plan seemed so clear.  And yet, I used the pretext of a busy schedule of business travel as the subtext for doing nothing.

Fueled by growing guilt, the prospect of regret loomed.  I simply inserted my flash drive into my laptop and pulled up the draft.  My fingers began plucking away like a chipmunk and I was on my way again.  I couldn’t answer the question of why it took some 40 odd days to stave off my misguided procrastination.  It infuriated me.

“Non, Je ne regrette rien,” Edith Piaf* sang so hypnotically.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88

 No regrets.  Thinking about what held me back won’t push me forward. 

Why does anyone procrastinate?  How do you overcome it?

*Lyrics:  Non, Je ne regrette rien

Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
C’est payé, balayé, oublié
Je me fous du passé

Avec mes souvenirs, j’ai allumé le feu
Mes chagrins, mes plaisirs, je n’ai plus besoin d’eux
Balayées les amours, avec leurs trémolos
Balayées pour toujours, je repars à zéro

Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Ni le bien qu’on m’a fait
Ni le mal, tout ça m’est bien égal
Non, rien de rien
Non, je ne regrette rien
Car ma vie car mes joies
Aujourd’hui, ça commence avec toi

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Waiting for Critique

In the memoir genre, about 70,000 words forms a standard book.  As I cruised past 40,000 words on my project, I thought about the haphazard content I’d typed in double-spaced format.  It was likely time for a professional review and I turned to my cousin Cindy in Los Angeles, who had mentioned she had some writing contacts if I were ever in the market for them.  Cindy dutifully sent along “M”‘s name and put us in touch. As it turns out, M had an intimidating writing pedigree, schooled at a well-known college under the tutelage of a renowned American author, as well as having several published titles to her name.  When I laid out my story, an amazing thing happened.  M told me that she too had been burned at a young age, a casualty of trying to be cool by smoking in a closet.  “Unless I wear a short sleeve top, no one notices,” she said referencing the burns on her arm.  What are the chances that I’d so quickly find a writing professional who would understand the very personal nature of burns?  As luck would have it, M’s plate was full and she did not have time to serve as my critique professional.  Instead, she put me in touch with her similarly pedigreed writing friend “K”. Eagerly I contacted K, who did not have a burn injury to share but rather a witty life story of life as an outsider of sorts in southern Indiana.  More importantly, she had time at hand.  After some hand-wringing, I looked over my project, divided it into 3 parts, packaged up Part I as ready fir review, closed my eyes and hit the “send” button.  And now I wait.  Wondering if my book, or at least the initial piece of it, might pass professional muster,  might have story enough to be told that it has a literary life.  And I wait.

Talking with Relatives

Man with street organ and monkey on chain.

Image via Wikipedia

One of the most fascinating aspects of looking back in time is talking to my mother and father’s relatives. Memory is an interesting thing. So, apparently were the 1960s. Intuitively I think I knew that things were different for families in the 60s but mom’s cousin Verna told me today that ‘we dealt with the monkey rather than going to the organ grinder.”  There was a hesitancy to most everything back then — whether it was the idea of calling someone long distance or doing things against the grain. I was trying to figure out how, after the accident, I actually got to the hospital. My sister told me that mom called dad and had him drive home from the office to take me. Cousin Verna confirmed this possibility, “If it were me, I would have called [my husband] to come home from work. Remember, we dealt with the monkey so we would have hesitated to call the hospital and there probably wasn’t 911 back then.”