The Museum of Procrastination

I’m going through a bad patch at the moment. It’s all the uncertainty about the house. As soon as I find somewhere to buy and get an offer accepted I’ll be OK. However…

…there is plenty I could be getting on with, but which I am not getting on with. The latest story, for example. I know the title, I know the heroine’s name – name and cover-name, in fact; I know precisely which magazine I am aiming the story at and I have typed out a comprehensive outline of the plot. I even know the approximate number of words the story will contain because I have this useful little gift(ette): I am able ‘set’, say, 3,000 words in my head at the outset and the story will turn out 3,000 words long, give or take a hundred. Quite often it’s been 3,000 on the dot. It’s similar to ‘setting’ six o’clock in your head, going to sleep and waking up at six the next morning without troubling the alarm clock.

What I haven’t done is started writing it. This is because it is going to be hard, focussed work and I haven’t got much focus at the moment. This is because I’m lazy and am vaguely hoping some other old dear will write it, or that somehow or other it will turn out to have been written thanks to a crinkle in the fabric of time. All of which reminds me of an ad for a well-known bank in which is featured the Museum of Procrastination. This contains towering stacks of gym memberships that were used once only and spent the rest of their lives in wallets, unfinished novels, musical instruments that only ever played Frère Jacques and a giant green wastepaper basket full of screwed up paper – all the good ideas people have had and done nothing whatsoever about.

Outlines are something I don’t tend to do with blog posts nowadays. I start off with a spark, sit at the computer and meander about on the keys. Better stuff comes out that way – stuff I’d have censored or polished out of existence given half a chance. Better unpolished. Then I hunt around for a picture to match or mirror my thoughts, which often takes as long as, if not longer than, writing the post. But I don’t mind that, because it’s not writing. There’s something about writing… It’s like matter and antimatter. One feels frustratingly prevented from doing it when forced to concern oneself with stuff like washing up, ironing and food shopping, but one feels endlessly reluctant to start doing it as soon as there is time.

I would like to visit the Museum of Procrastination. It sounds a lot more interesting than the sort I got dragged round at intervals as a child, which mostly consisted of clay pipes, axe-heads, dinosaur bones and Roman coins. The problem I always find with museums is that things just sit there, looking dusty, just staring at you. And I always feel sorry for them because they are imprisoned in a future they could never have imagined – if axe-heads, clay pipes and Roman coins can be said to imagine. They should have died when they were supposed to. How weary they must feel, here, unmoving, in cabinets of glass; faded brown labels, curling at the edges, in front of them. What sort of life is it, when you were designed to be sucked by a sailor (no, that doesn’t sound right…) bring a woolly mammoth to its knees or pass from greasy palm to greasy palm in the purchase of silks and spices? That was the life of these objects and this… this is their interment; this is some hideous, static afterlife being visited by schoolchildren and looking at your own mournful reflection in the glass.


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