Posted by: drrozkaplan | March 4, 2011

Reasons or Excuses

Hi, I’m back.  I don’t know from what or where.  I just wasn’t in blogging mode for a while.  I kept telling myself that I ‘should’ write a blog post, but no good ideas were coming to me, and I don’t want to just write junk to fill up the page.  I felt a little guilty for staying away, but instead of giving in to the guilt, I decided to suspend judgment.  It made me really think about legitimate ‘non-doing’ versus avoidance or procrastination.  I wasn’t just taking time off from the blog, but I wasn’t really writing much in general.  I’ve always set a standard for myself to write just a little bit each day, even if it was just ‘morning pages’- the 15 minutes of free writing I would do, of course first thing in the morning, if possible, which sometimes turn out to be the beginnings of an essay or story, or additions to something I’m working on, but more often than not, are just a bunch of drivel.  Well, I’d stopped even doing morning pages, and I had a million reasons why.  But were they reasons, or excuses?  How do we decide when we’re cutting ourselves needed breaks versus when we are making excuses for not following through on our commitments?

So my reasons (or excuses) for not writing:

1.  My life is interrupting my life.  I’m almost sure this is an excuse and not something legitimate, since life is always an interruption.  Yes, the dog threw up and there’s a floorboard loose in the entryway and I had to take my daughter to the doctor.  But next week, there will be new problems to deal with, and the laundry and dishes will never stop piling up, and meals will always need to be shopped for and cooked.  If life is going to be a reason, then I’ll never write.

2.  I was sick.  Now this, at least for a few days, was a legitimate reason.  I hardly ever get the viruses that are going around, probably because, after raising children and working in a medical practice for over twenty years, I’m immune to most things.  However, last week, I got hit with a flu-like virus that took me down hard for 4 days.  I lay in bed for at least 3 of those days, barely able to move because I was so tired from coughing up pieces of lung and because every muscle in my body hurt.  The hours just ticked by in my DayQuil and NyQuil-induced catatonia.  But I got better, and yet still have been having trouble summoning the motivation or creativity to write anything.

3.  I continue to encounter absurdity more regularly than most people I know.  While this should give me fodder for story-telling, it instead has me baffled and mentally fatigued.  Each time one odd episode ends, a new one seems to begin.  I wonder why I can’t have a run of uneventful weeks.

Yesterday, the dog grabbed a raw chicken breast that I was about to put in a pan.  He ran from me, and growled when I came near him.  So I got a large barbecue fork and lit out after him, thinking I would use the fork to wrest the chicken from the dog’s mouth.  Just then, my daughter and her boyfriend walked in the door.  They still think that I was trying to pierce the dog with the fork.  Every time I try to explain, they look at me and shake their heads, as if to say, “that’s what they all say…”

Last week, my son called from his study abroad program in Germany.  It was 10 pm our time; 4 am his time.  He wanted my husband to Google map the town he’s in, find the intersection he was at, and tell him which way to go to head towards the University.  When we asked him why he was wandering alone and lost at 4am, he told us he had just been released from police custody, after he was arrested for allegedly beating up a drunk guy and stealing his jacket.  The police apparently suspected him because a) he was carrying a jacket and b)he was outside.  Once it was determined that, in fact, he had not committed this crime, they told him to leave, but refused to take him back to where he’d been hours earlier when they picked him up.  Sadly, I was not even disturbed by this story.  It seemed perfectly ordinary to me.  I worry about that.

4.  My husband caught the virus I just recovered from, so not only have I been trying to take care of him (I say trying because he is terrible at being sick and it’s hard to get him to accept help), but I also have double duty with household and dog maintenance.  I realize now how much he had to do last week when I was sick, and really, how much we both do, and how we depend on each other.  Despite all this, however, I have had some free time, because he’s been asleep in the evenings, leaving me time for writing.  I just haven’t taken the time.

5.  Once I haven’t written for a while, I’m just out of the habit.  And I think this is really the crux of it.  I AM procrastinating.  Just like exercise, I need to re-establish the habit, flex my writing muscles and get back in condition.  It’s hard.  It means using will, persevering, facing fear of failure.  Fear of writing drivel. Fear that nothing creative is in there, and there never will be again.

As with anything in life, the way we spend time is a matter of establishing priorities and then being true to them.  My highest priorities have to be the people I love and my profession.  These are areas of absolute obligation, as well as labors of love.  But writing is up there, too, because it keeps me sane.  I think sanity is a good priority.  So if this post seems like drivel, I hope you’ll cut me some slack.  I need to restart somewhere, no excuses.



  1. oy

  2. Funny, I was just wondering where you might have disappeared to… and not that I’m a writing critic- but I liked this post a lot… Partially because the part about the dog made me laugh, and partially because it reminds me that I’m not the only one who feels like “life” pops up like the Whack-A-Mole game… Everytime I think I’ve squished the last bit of chaos, more chaos appears from nowhere. But then science dictates that the universe naturally tends to disorder… Entropy and all of that… Don’t fight the laws of physics Dr. Kaplan, you can’t win :-)


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