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Posted by Dean Whitbread on

An Evening’s Displacement Activity

When you sit down to finish that composition you’ve spent a month considering, researching, sketching, finessing, for that VIP audience the next day.. it’s amazing how the guitar song you’ve been doodling for a couple of days comes together.. the lyrics and the melody just sync up right, and suddenly you sound like you again instead of David Gray meeting Neil Young and discussing Lemonjelly in Beyonce’s kitchen.. then you find that email address for the lovely man who bought you that book two years ago and you start the heart-felt letter you should have written – even finish it – then the mud on the shoes in the hallway is dry, so you go outside to knock them clean.. then you’re just a little bit too hungry to continue immediately, so you make toast while you tidy up the desktop and do some of that digital filing you could have done anytime in the last 4 months.. then you have a REALLY good idea (it’s the toast) about how to finish the song at the same as realising that if you put in an extra 15 mins on the filing, you won’t lose those research files ever again.. oh shit, yes the research.

Ah-hum. Deep breath. Word up. OK. Title. It’s nearly midnight. I’ve been here since 8pm. Everything is very tidy. I haven’t washed my tea cup though.. no, that’s just A DISTRACTION. Oh I just got a text.. how interesting ! “How is it going ? I love you xxx” I am overwhelmed by the kindness, suddenly too sentimental to continue. My tired eyes are swimming. My back is aching. I blow my nose. Here we go. Maybe I’ll just go to bed and write this in the morning. Hold on: I could take it to bed, I have a laptop and a wireless network. No, that way lies madness ! Nothing good can come from this. At least get your first page completed.

First page: is rubbish. Reads like an obituary. I wish I had all the ideas I had when I didn’t need them. Come on.

OK. That’s better. 3 good lines. 15 more required. I wonder how my cactus flower is developing.. No. Concentrate.

Damn, I’m on the web ! GET OFF THE DAMN WEB ! Quit the browser. Boom. There. Good. Gone. Research. Fuck! I didn’t save that arrangement with woodwind and strings… Bugger, hope it’s in the autosave history… it is. Great. Save it. Maybe print it. No juuuuuust save it. If I print it, I can look at it and have something else on the screen. THIS IS SUCH A GOOD IDEA ! It’s 1:30am and I am looking at an introduction, some printed words, many inter-related notes, and nine and a half minutes to go.

WHO STOLE MY TIME ? Procrastination didn’t, he always gets blamed, but HE WAS NOWHERE ! It was Displacement – he stole me from myself to make sure I didn’t suffer too much by doing the work I needed to do before 2am.

3:07 am. Done most of it, ten pages of earnest repetition, unmerited assertion, spontaneous invention, and hope. It’s possibly the best I’ve ever written. Four and a half hours desperate avoidance cannot dull my gladness. We will all be fabulously rich and simultaneously save the planet. The blessed, beautiful, wonderful, precious huge planet of glorious sleep.

(first published here)