I did a stupid thing. I offered to write a book review for a film journal.
Let’s back up. In the beginning, this was actually a cool thing to do, because I hadn’t written a proper article in a while and a book review sounded challenging and fun and because I wrote it for the journal put out by the organization I work for, UFVA, an association of film academics. So when the editor put out a call for book reviews, offering to write one, since I am a writer, after all, not just the UFVA office manager, seemed like the right thing to do.
So the editor sent me a book to review about the filmmaker Mike Leigh, whose work I love. I read the book and rewatched some of my favorite films (Naked, Happy Go Lucky, Another Year), as well as a few the writer referred to a lot (Secrets & Lies, Topsy Turvy) and even one I’d managed to miss (Career Girls). And in the meantime, I spend a lot of time stressing out, beating myself up, writing drivel and babbling to my husband and friends about how I had no clue what I was trying to say, how I don’t know how to write anymore, how horrible this thing was going to turn out.
Which brings me to why it was stupid of me to take the thing on in the first place: because I spent more time stressing than I did writing! Because I devoted many too many waking hours to this article that was only 1200 words long and that should have been enjoyable and positive for me, because… it got me writing! It was another published piece in a resume that’s been lacking in published pieces lately! It was a really interesting topic that I know something about and was excited to dive into!
But all that was meaningless because I got into the stress-out, beat Andrea up mode I so often fall into when I do something I haven’t done before or in awhile.
Which brings me to the New Low.
While I was so-called working on the article that tormented me for the, say, three weeks I worked on it, Harlan was shooting in New York and I was in that mode where I would go to the library to work on the review, but do anything else instead: check email, browse facebook, chat on the phone with friends about how I don’t know how to write, read fashion blogs, shop for shoes.
And then I’d realize my deadline was tomorrow (or yesterday) and freak out and force myself to get to work, even though it was 4:00 and Aidan was home and I was supposed to be painting or building magna tile houses with him.
So once (or maybe twice), I worked on the piece and let him play Angry Birds for, like, two and a half hours.
This feels like Confession.
Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I let my four-year-old lie on the living room couch staring at my iPhone and shooting pigs with grumbling birds for two and a half hours. So I could write the book review I should have written in one sitting at the library in the middle of the day three weeks earlier, but didn’t BECAUSE I’M FRIGGIN’ CRAZY!