Nothing happened: Does a life of routine make for a boring read?

The page stares back at me blank; cruel and unforgiving. The clock shows 9:11 p.m., the essay was due yesterday and I’ve got nothing. Somehow the idea of disappointing my editor is worse than my boss rolling his eyes a few weeks ago when I told him I forgot a document. Sure my boss can fire me if I screw up, my editor on the other hand kindly reminds me that my essays are important, that he likes them; that people laugh when they read them or are moved, that what I write is a good read. I always downplay it and think that if I don’t have time and skip one or two publications there is little lost, but is there? My editor thinks there’s a loss in my failure to write a piece, and he is so gentle when relaying the message that I feel I have to sit down and type, even if it is to say that this time around: “I’ve got nothing.”

 

So here’s the thing, I have not had any good inspiration lately. Somehow life has gotten into a rhythm and rhythms can be boring to narrate. I have been at my “new” job for over a year now, with a few ups and downs, nothing like a roller-coaster. My girls are a bit older now and have a more normal routine that even allows me an hour or two (when lucky) for myself. And my husband and I are friends as ever. Even the Momyers have been doing great, don’t get me wrong I am thrilled that they are all doing good, but as a very wise cousin once told me: “No drama. No glory.”

 

So there have not been any crazy situations, sudden needs for diaper changes in the middle of a conference call, a leap of faith to another city or job, a move to another house, or a tiny baby keeping me up at night. No, that’s over, my days are predictable now and I question myself as I sip my cup of tea in a quiet house: “How on earth am I supposed to write something interesting about that?”

 

Perhaps it is writer’s block, perhaps I’ve ran out of things to write or, perhaps, for the first time in many, many years I have finally achieved what I thought impossible: balance. There is steadiness. Sure a few curve balls are thrown at me from time to time, but in general things have gotten a nice pace. And here’s the thing, here’s my confession: “I like it.”

 

The craziness of days past made for fun anecdotes to write about, but left me weary. This recent routine I have achieved in my life has actually energized me personally, but left me with little or no inspiration. Has this balance and routine in my life made me a boring writer? And, should I feel bad about it? Or should I purposely throw myself into some insane situation to produce a better column this time around? Don’t many artists do that? I ask myself: Would it appear as if I was a pathetic writer if I generate and get into stressful situations for the sake of “the art?”

 

Is this what is called a mid-life crisis? When you know things are running smoothly and miss the excitement of the days when you felt like you were on a constant roller coaster of situations and emotions; and do you throw yourself into a situation that tampers with that balance? Is that what men do when they buy that shiny, new, red Porsche? Maybe, but I do not feel the urge to do something radical that borders in the ridiculous. On the contrary, I feel a guilty pleasure in enjoying this stability and steadiness that I have achieved. Not having some insane anecdote to write, for once, feels all right. I am enjoying the change of the season and being unapologetic about finally having gotten a hold of various aspects in my life. I hear myself talking in my empty room: “I am enjoying this peace and quiet.”

 

The problem is that balance makes for a boring read. I know readers like the column for a good laugh or a situation that draws on their empathy, a feel good story or at the very least to feel compassion for the woman who wrote about the forgotten contract while bringing her toddler’s books to a meeting. But what can you do when things are steady? Well, I asked myself and replied: “Write sincerely about the fact that nothing happened. Yet I feel all right. There is nothing wrong with you when nothing happens.”

 

How long this will last? Well, with my luck, hopefully a few more months. Perhaps for the next column I will have returned to my usual shenanigans and have some unbelievable story to tell that will crack up the readers, but for now I will go ahead and enjoy, without any guilt, the balance achieved and I do sincerely hope that someone somewhere will relate to this boring life and say what I told myself: “My life is boring and I forgive myself.”

 

© Paola Sanchez, 2015

 


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