Today is a Passive Day

My decision to turn down my acceptance to law school was complicated and fraught with indecision. For a long time I comforted myself with the knowledge that I would never be the kind of person capable of falling in love with a job. Even as a dedicated student who would rather study than party, I hoarded my spare time with extreme jealousy. While I dedicated all-nighters to perfecting research papers, it wasn’t out of passion. So often my reward for finishing 1,000 words was joining my sister in video game session. For me, work is the thing I do to justify and afford all of the things I actually enjoy. I do it because as much as I dislike the slogging, I hate failing even much more.

As an obliger, motivation is a hard thing to rally. On energetic days, I make goals and believe I will achieve them. Plans seem so simple, so probable. “I will do this,” I tell myself with a fist in the air. “Tomorrow. After I finish this novel.” On passive days, I tell myself the goals don’t really matter. It isn’t as if anyone is keeping track. Without something to earn or something to prove, it is easier to pretend I never expected anything in the first place.

Today is a passive day. I am not very motivated to write or to blog at all, ever again. What difference would it make? I’d only be letting down myself, and myself is accustomed to being let down. I am tired. Work is long. It is cold outside and I don’t want to get up in the morning to freeze with the dog for half an hour. Only to freeze again when I return home. I live for the weekends but they are too short. And I never accomplish as much as I desire. What is wrong with placating myself with television and cookies? Why work harder than necessary?

In a logical sense I know even the most comfortable luxuries must be leavened with industry in order to be gratifying. It could be the weather or the lack of activity. It could be the lure of the comparison game, always dangerous ground for someone who can write an ordered list of all the things she is not but finds it impossible to say what she is.

I am not an athlete or a dancer or an artist. I am not a dog trainer or a skier or a scientist. I am not a lawyer or a teacher or a singer. I am not a woman who can apply eyeliner or decorate a house or cook a meal without a recipe. I am not crafty. I am not good at math. I am not patient. I am not magic.

I am an almost-wife. I am a sister and I am a daughter, though I don’t think I am a very good version of the latter. I try to be a friend. Other than that?

I don’t know.

I am reading a book filled with assignments meant to teach me how to write better. When I opened the book, I meant to read one chapter, complete the task, and then move on to the next. The tasks aren’t difficult and should be entertaining. I am eight chapters in and I haven’t started my homework from the first. The exercise in front of me involves writing 750 words about the kind of writing I like to read in order to set the standard for my own endeavours. Although I know what I wish to say, I cannot force myself to get the words down.

I wonder if I have become intimidated by the rules. Perhaps by desiring to learn how to write well, I have lost the little confidence I had that enabled me to write at all. A bit of knowledge in the wrong hands can be disastrous. The words don’t flow any more, if they ever did. I am obsessed with concept nouns. I question every tense. This constant editing doesn’t make my writing better, it inhibits. I have lost the desire to write for the sake of writing.

Another assignment, from the book, is to keep a notebook or journal. This is not something I have ever been able to undertake with regularity. All of my high school attempts were dotted with embellishments, for no one’s benefit but my own, and ended in pure fiction. For something that no one was ever going to read but me, I spent a great deal of time making it entertaining.

This blog, while not a diary, contains more personal truth than any of my previous writing. And it couldn’t be more public. It is interesting that I have no difficulty lying to myself but balk at embroidering my life online. If I ever discover the reasons for this, I hope they will also permit me to be as vulnerable in my real life as I can be in this space.

For now, I will keep trying. Especially when it’s hard. I don’t want to disappoint myself any more. I am worth more than that.

15 thoughts on “Today is a Passive Day

  1. Normally I would text you this but I wanted it to be attached to this blog. You missed many things that you are on your list. You are an AMAZING dog mumma to Shiva. To me you are an FANTASTIC friends, a great listener, a cheerleader, a foster mum, and you are too hard on yourself. You are a compassionate and caring individual. And more importantly in context of this blog you are also a great writer. Remember this 🙂


  2. I like to write ‘stream of conciousness’ and then go back to fix it later. I am not sure if this is effective as I wouldn’t call myself an author any how!


  3. How many times have I felt that way? Always the feeling of coming up short. I took a writing course for children’s book and it was all the rules I couldn’t deal with. I felt so confined and locked in a box. It drove me nuts. While I did learn a few things along the way, when I starting blogging I became a better writer. I could finely breathe and not answer to no one and I learned from my own mistakes.

    You are a beautiful writer Kristine! I know it is hard to see from the inside place your at, but I’d followed and read your wonderful eloquent words and have had my own bit of jealousy of your post. You make writing look so easy and it flows with this softness of heart.

    Some of us are just naturals and can appreciate well written quality while you bare your soul.

    Don’t stop.


  4. You really must not put yourself down hun. Just think what a miracle it is that you are alive on this planet. Think of the people your existence has enriched.

    Remember to the world you are but one person, but to one person you are the world.


  5. I’d miss you if you went. Yours is one of my favourite blogs to read, I love to catch up with what’s going on in your life and I someday hope to write as well as you do. Ok I may now sound like some sort of crazy stalker, don’t worry I like in the UK so you are safe!

    It is often far too easy to put ourselves down, I know I do it all the time. Perhaps it might be worth thinking back to why you blog? If it was to achieve something that you achieved years ago then maybe it is time for you to take a break, however if not then forget about the rules and go back to the basics!

    I blog because I wanted to poor out my heart in a space where I could. I have times of worrying that my constant mopping will mean people turn away from my blog and I won’t get visits and build a community of friends (which is the other reason I got into blogging!) but if I pretend to be something I am not, or write posts that my heart just isn’t it for the sake of it then I know that wouldn’t work for me. So I am slowly learning to put myself first.

    I hope that kinda makes sense and gets my point across?


  6. Ah, I’m glad you got lots of positive responses to this! It felt like reading my own thoughts. I love to write but writing for the sake of writing is always something I’ve struggled with – it feels like there’s no purpose to it, but of course, it’s one of the very best reasons. I hope you find reason to keep doing it 🙂


  7. Sometimes to keep going, you just have to keep going. I don’t want to sound all philosophical, (and holy shit I spelled that right) but that always works for me. May not work for you, but what the hell, give it a shot. I would miss this blog and your wonderful writing.


  8. To write or not to write? Only you can answer that question. It sounds to me like your forcing yourself to do something that is not all that enjoyable for you (meaning the exercises, not the writing itself). Read books, watch tv, eat cookies if that’s what you want to do. Don’t spend your free time punishing yourself. And if you want to write a blog, post good for you – but do it for yourself, not anyone else. xo


  9. While the practice may be good, you’re still learning by reading that book. You’re still accomplishing something.

    Don’t count the mistakes – ultimately they don’t matter. I suspect you do more than you think!


  10. What Vicki said. Seriously. What I wanted to say was you are a fantastic writer and if trying to write “better” is making you miserable, just write. Put down the book and write. Or play with Shiva. Read a book, watch TV, do what makes you happy.

    Kristine, you are so bright, so talented, so passionate and worthy. I’m not sure how we can make you believe that but ultimately it IS you who needs to know it. Oh how often you young women make me wish I could fly across the country and wrap you in my arms and give you all the confidence and comfort you need to trust yourselves. You are amazing. You need to believe that.


  11. You could set the book on fire! 🙂 Seriously, if it’s cramping your style, you don’t need it. You’re a great writer already; you express your feelings well and in an engaging way. My mom always says that if you have a feeling like you really don’t want to do something and it’s optional, don’t do it. Life’s too short!


  12. Wow, Kristine. Just wow. In my opinion, your writing is perfect. I wouldn’t change a word or tense. Please, let the comments here into your heart and really feel them – because you are this good. The only person who doesn’t see it is you, and that is heartbreaking.


  13. If you want to write, write. Read the books you want to read and in doing that consider how the writing captures your interest. Deconstruction made fun 😉 Writing is to me a process of always becoming…just as you *are* a person who is growing and changing, always becoming.

    Enjoy TV, eat cookies…there are thousands of “how-to” books that all say the same thing but deliver the message in a different way, with different words, hoping to attract new eyes. The power of words, your words, comes through when you MUST write something because you can’t keep yourself from it.

    On the practical side, Winter malaise has hit many. Read the book if you want to, don’t do the exercises if you don’t. Take what you can from it now and move on. You may want to revisit it later…or not. Obligation is the worst place to come from when writing (or reading — just because you start a book doesn’t mean you must finish it). All the discontent may be a precursor to a big change. Watch for it…

    On another note, your life is your art — *you* shape it, refine it, change the background, change the context by changing the place you live it, layer it with music, love, infuse it with moments of pure joy, add, sometimes subtract, the people in it giving it different textures, you seek out a lightness of being to wash over it that will be transformative. You are unique in all the world to paraphrase Saint-Exupery, you bring the whole of your life’s experience to what you write, and that is the gift you give your readers when you write about what you want to write about. Focus on that if you like the idea. We start anew, every day…every day we can choose a new path. There’s a lot of magic in that.


  14. It makes me sad that you feel like your writing is not excellent, because it is!! Believe it or not, you were one of my first blogging heroes, one I put myself up against. “If I could just write like Kristine, if I could get comments like Kristine.” You are THAT good.

    I also understand this though because I feel very lacking myself. I wish I could put together a compelling blog post like this! If I could grant you one wish, it would be to see yourself the way others see you, for the amazing woman, writer that you are.


  15. I can kind of understand where you’re coming from. I love my job, but not the way I thought I would when I watched people with careers on TV. They’re devoted. Not me, it’s how I pay the bills. I’m thankful that I work with people who I like and I do something I enjoy, but it’s not my life. My life is what happens when I get home 🙂

    So will you not be going to law school?


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