Fish Or Cut Bait

Copyright Beabe Thompson 2013

I grew up in north Louisiana, an area of Louisiana settled by Native Americans, African Americans, and Europeans, specifically  English and Scottish. Many people are under the impression Louisiana is or was French speaking from its early days as a French colony to now. And those people would be wrong.

From almost midway in the state, approximately where Alexandria is located, the culture changed dramatically. To the north Louisiana was much like Mississippi, Texas, and other states below the Mason-Dixon Line. English speaking, Protestant, and a cuisine most Southerners would find familiar. Cornbread, grits, turnip greens cooked with pork chops, etc.

To the south of Alexandria, many cultures thrived, most famously the descendants of French speakers forced by Great Britain out of Canada, the Acadians, or “Cajuns”. The Cajuns, despite popular culture telling you otherwise, have not populated the entirety of southern Louisiana, including New Orleans. Au contraire. There were Native Americans, Creoles, French natives, Spanish natives, Italians, Germans, Sicilians, and more. Southern Louisiana, especially New Orleans, is more of a gumbo of cultures than just one.

One of the north Louisiana colloquial expressions I grew up with was “fish or cut bait.” There’s another one with the same meaning, but it’s rather disgusting, so I’ll not use it. My interpretation is to do or get out of the way. It might have a different meaning in other parts of the South, but that’s what it meant to me. Fish or cut bait was a pretty black and white way of saying get on with things. No more lollygagging or procrastination.

I’ve been doing a lot of lollygagging lately. Part of it’s related to a health issue I have that leaves me exhausted and uninspired 24/7. It’s a project and ambition killer for sure. And a memory killer, remembering anything from one moment to the next sometimes is a challenge.

And that’s where I am and have been, for a while. My projects have been left by the wayside while I catch up on lost sleep and get life in order. My biggest goal was to jump start my writing while my husband attended a weeklong music festival this month. Instead, I found myself exploring the culinary limits of food delivery in my area and binge-watching Outlander. I found wild success at both.

Another success was finding an app called Productive, which helps establish positive habits and routines. For those of you gifted with an organized brain, Productive may not offer you a whit of help, but people with memory issues can benefit greatly. For the first time my husband has left town on trips, my house didn’t become a scene from Hoarders, and I went to bed on time. Well, most of the time. When he returned home, the house was tidy, and I wasn’t a wild-haired semi-recluse.

I also spent that week on computer work, putting off writing, mostly because of the discouraged frame of mind I’ve been in. Chaos and disorder are not a writer’s friend, and I’d been mentally living in them for a long time. A book I happened upon also helped bring about good changes. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg, is a fascinating view into how we create a habit and how to change.

I highly recommend it to anyone. I bought it in audiobook and listen attentively while doing mundane tasks.

It’s sort of like the old joke about the patient complaining to her doctor about something hurting every time she did something. The doctor simply says “Stop doing it.” Easier said than done, right? But obsessively checking Social Media, Emails, binge-watching TV shows, ruthlessly comparing ourselves to others is not easily stopped. But we can.

I also disengaged myself from Facebook which opened up hour after hour of pleasure in other things. Before leaving it, I “unfollowed” people who “friended” with the sole intention of selling or publicizing, and left groups that ate time and emotion. It also helped with the relentless and destructive self-comparing. There’s nothing constructive about comparing yourself to a writer further along in their journey. We all get there by different routes, routines, and techniques.

Now I have to practice what I preach and use all this new-found time and energy creatively. If not writing, then something else that makes me happy.



Procrastination and Friday

Image from Kushandwizdom.tumbler

This week I’m supposed to be participating in Romance Writers of America’s online chapter Kiss of Death’s Book In A Week. First day, over 5,000 word count. The next day, 700 or so. Third day? Over 5,000. Last night? Over 200. I have no excuse. No valid excuse other than cranking out a goal of 5,000 words per day is exhausting. When I get tired, I get really whiny and make a lot of excuses why things aren’t getting done.

Yesterday’s excuse? I needed to go to Weight Watchers, then pick up a new suitcase for the RWA convention next month. By the time my “errands” were done, my writing time had been frittered away. My husband asked if I’d had a good day, and I replied that little writing had gotten done, but it was a good day. Then my remorse set in.

I can’t get back those hours spent doing crap instead of writing. Today I tried looking through my WIP, and just got more annoyed with myself. That in itself is manufacturing procrastination.

Time to figure out if I’ll continue to fritter another day away, or put words to screen. Time to make another cup of French Roast and stop making excuses. Put my keister in my office chair and fingers to keyboard.

Carpe Diem, y’all. Carpe Diem.

From Wikipedia: Carpe diem is a Latin aphorism, usually translated “seize the day”, taken from the Roman poet Horace’s Odes (23 BC)

“Don’t ask (it’s forbidden to know) what end
the gods have given me or you, Leuconoe. Don’t play with Babylonian
numerology either. How much better it is to endure whatever will be!
Whether Jupiter has allotted you many more winters or this one,
which even now wears out the Tyrrhenian sea on the opposing rocks, is the final one
be wise, be truthful, strain the wine, and scale back your long hopes
to a short period. While we speak, envious time will have {already} fled:
seize the day, trusting as little as possible in the next day.”