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"Writing Myself a Brief Nap" mind matters
December 11, 2002
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This has been a hard time for me and these essays.

Itís not that I canít come up with ideas. There are ideas everywhere! On my way to my first day of teaching at Middlesex Community College I invented at least half a dozen. There were beautiful red leaves on the sidewalk; on the third day, heavy snow. I arrived an hour early into an empty classroom with lots of buzzing computers. I heard radio stories about prairie dogs and -- I almost wrote about this -- the influential actions of a shoplifting actress.

Crazy world.

I try to be inspired when I write. If I donít believe that I have the perfect idea, right then and there, Iíll wait for it. The finished product isnít often what I expect, but I want my writing to suck me in. I want to forget about eating or sleeping, or the work I should be doing instead of writing a mind matter. That idea should smack me between the eyes and demand to be written. Itís what happened before, as with the gambling essay. It just had to be written.

Prairie dogs, however, arenít inspiring me today. Neither is Winona Ryder or autumn. Inspiration hasnít visited my brain a whole lot. So when nothing in my head is screaming for paper, what do I to? Take a nap?

I did take a nap, a real nap. The afternoon was half over, and I really didnít feel like taking any responsibilities seriously. See, my bed is right over there, only a few steps away. I twisted the dial on my oven timer to 40 minutes and crashed. I found pleasant surprise in how deeply I slept.

If you ask me for the highlight of my day, Iíd say it was that nap. Thereís a small amount of shame in that admission, because I could have worked during those 40 minutes, but itís true. Sometimes thereís no activity more rewarding than taking a nap.

Why canít I write like I nap? After composing a few deeper essays in a row, it would be nice if I could just take some kind of writing nap. What would that feel like? It would take less than an hour, and Iíd finished refreshed. Simpler than a writing exercise, a writing nap would be like writing eight great words on a sticky note. The words pop out of my head and onto the paper, like peas jumping off a dinner plate. At the end of it, Iím refreshed and ready to write something more.

Not counting Thanksgiving Day, I havenít written a mind matter in almost a month. In fact, Iíve written almost nothing creatively at all. And now, this. My nap.

Gurgle, victorious, fjord, persimmon, scope, elemental, persnickety, ouch.

Iíve decided today that Iím a writer. This was my nap, my stretch. Now, back to work.

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Copyright 2002 Seth Maislin


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