David Mamet, in his 1996 collection of “Essays and Remembrances”, Make-Believe Town:
Writing, in my experience, consists of long periods of hanging out, punctuated by the fugue of remorse at the loss of one’s powers and wonder at occasional output in spite of that loss.
I hear, as do we all, of those people who spend eight to ten hours a day at their typewriters, and I think, has no one told them of the Nap?
I’m on “sabbatical”, which is what my employers and I agreed to call the six-month unpaid leave I negotiated in order to concentrate, I claimed, on “projects of my own”, which have so far amounted to four weeks of fuck all.
For the last few years I’ve been telling myself and my friends that when I was again free of the obligation to stare at a laptop screen for eight hours a day in the service of commerce, I would again have the energy to create: to make music, to write scripts, to craft animated short films. But I have no energy, none. Like David Mamet, I nap, I hang out, I regret the loss of my powers. But in contrast with Mamet, my inactivity has yet to be justified by the slightest manifestation of genius.
Last weekend I attended an opening at the Mendel Art Gallery and ran into an acquaintance, Andrei Feheregyhazi, a local filmmaker and animator of increasing renown. He described how in addition to his full-time day job he devotes four or five hours every evening, and twelve hours on Saturdays and Sundays, to working on his own projects.
I can’t imagine ever being that ambitious. Sometimes I wonder if there’s a chemical or hormonal imbalance that makes me incapable of working as hard as Andrei and people like him. Perhaps I’m just not getting enough protein, or zinc, or omega-3 fatty acids. A friend browbeat me into joining him at the gym three times a week, promising that it would boost my energy level, but after almost a month it has only left me more exhausted. I return from the gym around noon and crawl into bed for an hour or two.
It would be convenient to blame my inertness on a deficiency of nutrition or brain chemistry, but the plain fact is I’m lazy. Perhaps someday, by some chance, I’ll discover a mantra or a magic compound or a psychiatric cure that will restore me to vitality, but in the meantime I must overcome my laziness through old-fashioned dragging-my-ass-out-of-it.
PS. Check out Andrei Feheregyhazi’s animated short films.