Of lists and listlessness

I keep finding these lists I’ve compiled of books I want to write and/or release to the wild — you know, the books I hope will provide a revenue stream when my day-job days are over. I know (I know I know because I write this same thought from time to time) that I should devote a portion of every day to getting these books out there, and yet here is the list virtually unchanged from a year or two ago when I committed it to paper. I am an odd duck that way, knowing almost exactly what to do but pausing at the cusp of acting.

Every so often I take a baby step and inch forward. On Sept. 1 I finally started producing a little something with the USB microphone I bought three or four (five? six?) years ago — and now my daily blog has an audio component. Once I get more comfortable with the process, I aim to expand the experiment and return to podcasting and even audiobooks. I firmly believe my neglected masterpiece How to Play a Blue Guitar can find a life once the words are uttered out loud.

As I approach the day later this month when my 70th birthday will be closer than my 69th back in March, I am increasingly aware that time is a finite thing, and all those things I want to get done need to start getting done. It is all well and good to enjoy an audiobook by 86-year-old George Guidall and admire the queen of England for logging 96 years including 70 on the throne. The obituaries are filled with folks who did not have that much time.

My mind is still more or less cruising along, my voice is still more or less what it was, my body is doing its job except for the arthritis, so I ought to be getting on with all my big plans for them.

So what, then, is my problem? What is this monster called inertia – procrastination – Resistance? What a remarkably insidious demon it is in the end, behaving to the last as if there is no end and I have all the time in the world to waste. There’s a Proverb (6:9-10) that alarmed me the first time it sank in and continues to spring to mind whenever I ponder inertia:

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a thief, and scarcity like an armed man.”

When I remember those lines, I jump up from my slumber and reach for my list of projects. Sometimes, thought, the list itself is daunting — which one do I do first? Where do I start? I remember the sound advice, “Just pick one and run with it, gather some momentum,” but I settle back down, staring at the list, and fold my hands to rest.

Yes, inertia is that evil.

But every so often I, for example, plug my new/old microphone into the laptop at last, and start recording my daily blog, and I gain some momentum.

I never said this out loud before, but at the beginning of the year I committed to publishing at least one book a month. How am I doing? I have published three books in nine months, one that I authored and two in the Roger Mifflin series. Let’s see if, by saying it out loud at last, I can muster the energy to publish a book by the end of September. And then? I’ll work on the October book, and after that, November.

But first, let me see that list …

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