Yes, it's Take Your Child To Work Day, a day when your offspring gets to see first-hand just what it is that you have to put on special clothes and rush out the door for, almost every day of every week. For us writers, it's easier. The special clothes can and do include pyjamas. There's no rushing anywhere, except to a computer close by. But I thought I'd take the plunge and ask my fifteen-year-old daughter to guest post on my Blog. I waited excitedly to see if I'd get a post on Inspirational Mothers. My Mummy, The Author? Proud of You, Mama? Heck, I'd have even settled for Your Pyjamas Are Only A Bit Embarrassing. But no. I get one on Procrastination. You know, we might make a writer of her yet...
|Guest Blogger, Angela Channell|
There’s a time for all of us when we must, not by choice, but by sheer enforcement, face the formidable, omnipresent figure of responsibility. Of being an adult. Of pulling yourself together. For me, and millions of others that have or eventually will have to face it, it dawns in the form of the exam. For my situation, it’s the abyss of the boldly capitalized GCSE (exams currently taken in the UK, usually between the ages of 15-16) that I am currently staring into. But what this process is teaching me, now that the first exam of the season is a mere matter of less than a month away, is the human approach to the act, and similar acts, of revision.
You may here this talk of exams now and cry, “This is not for me! Why I am years past the minor challenge of exams, I have the wisdom of the world. I merely dismiss you with a ‘ho-hah’ at your adolescent angst”. But before you get ahead of yourself, you need to make sure that you are certainly, well and truly above all of this. You are telling me that there isn’t something else you should be doing right now? No looming task? No ever-approaching deadline, that sits, shouting a countdown clock into a bullhorn at the top of your subconscious mind? Okay. Just take a pause for a second, but I’m sure you won’t need it. Because, ladies and gentlemen, what I’m about to introduce to you is the most spectacular, beautiful, human state of, that’s right:
1. the action of delaying or postponing something.
I’m going to talk you very gently through the stages. You may find this traumatic to relive, reader discretion advised.
STAGE ONE: The Willing
Now this is the stage where most of you will fall – you don’t have to blame yourself, it’s your genetics. The mere thought of it usually seeps into your brain whilst doing something your logical self, let’s call him Mr Logic, a close associate of Mr Conscience, deems unproductive. It could be the shimmering oasis of television, the most deadly form being box sets, even, dare I say it – Netflix. “Just one…more…episode-“
“NO!” Mr Logic cries, shaking you from the blanket of litter and semi-clean clothes you lie beneath, “You don’t even like this TV show anymore. You’re barely even- wait, I hope that’s not-“. And once again Mr Logic has lost you into the treacherous labyrinth of apps. You run into Facebook, Twitter and – oh dear god – Tumblr. You stumble through Candy Crush, Temple Run and right into the arms of the Flappy Bird, and the endless, pointless variations you downloaded with it.
You sit in the dark, boundlessly tapping but- what’s that- a chink of glorious light breaking through the endless, gloomy stupor. Your battery has died. Mr Logic gazes at the blank screen with tears of joy brimming in his eyes. You have no excuse now. With endless sighs, and reluctant dragging of feet, you’ve made it. Well, kind of.
|The Cave of Shame|
STAGE TWO: The Approach
This is what I like to call conscious procrastination. You are perfectly, 100% able to do the job at hand. You are sat, probably in front of the blank screen, the cursor mocking you with its flashing. And yet, nothing. Your anti-productive instinct is finding any way of delaying this ever further. It could be in a to-do list, its name even convincing you that you are being the most industrious you have ever been. But then it’s the choice of paper, ink, colour-coding, alphabetising, sorting by date, stickers, calligraphy, oil portraits, mosaics… okay, maybe not that far, but you get the idea. But how are you meant to work in silence? You need music, but not just any music. You need to create a whole new playlist just for what you’re doing, otherwise you will be bored and un-productive, and we couldn’t have that now could we? The next small section of your life will probably spent enthusiastically miming to a song “wow, I haven’t heard in ages. When did it get so good? Wait, what album is that from again…?” and so on.
But you’ve got there! You have Sabotage by the Beastie Boys blasting (literally or just mentally), this task is nothing, wow, motivation, nothing can stop me no- oh look at the wall. That’s a really interesting wall. When did we paint that? Is it all the same colour, is that a shadow? Wow, aren’t shadows weird. I guess we spend most of our lives in shadow, the night. Are owls afraid of the day? Wait, I saw an owl during the day, how did that work? Imagine if I was and owl, would I know I was an owl… And once again, your mind has found a way of distracting itself from the task at hand, which really isn’t even that bad. More sighing, more finger-staring… and you’re off.
STAGE THREE: The Distractions
Congratulations! You’ve written yourself a whole paragraph, maybe – dare I say it – a page! But a cold wave throws itself over you. You need…
Now look, you never set out to do anything wrong. It was just a quick diagram off google images, the quick check of a synonym. But it threw itself at you. Just one click of a YouTube video and the options, oh the options. I’m not talking a casual cat video (you lightweight), I’m talking, full on, unintelligible Japanese cartoons, music videos re-enacted in Lego, ((**insert appropriate Achilles-heel genre here**)). But if you weren’t deep enough in that, social media once gain rears its ugly head. Endless, endless scrolling in some of the most awkward, uncomfortable body positions you’ve been in. The most ambitious to-do list mankind has ever seen is quickly becoming a sediment of the earth.
You traipse back to Microsoft word like the prodigal son you know you are, greeted with the ever-blinking, ever-judging cursor (damn you). But you carry on. You suddenly that you’re actually pretty much finished. That was in no way as hard as you expressed in your posts on every media platform existing (c’mon, even Google+? Jeeeeez).
All energy gone, you leave the slain beast and its final resting place, turning into the sunset, to, once again, spend your time regretfully and wastefully. Bravo my friend, bravo.
So I hope you can see that (shock horror), you aren’t that different from the youth of today. We don’t try and be unproductive, we’re not lazy, it’s just haaaaaarrrd. And as for English Literature, exams for which, a month from now, I will have finished, let’s just say the ratio of time taken and time actually revising is quite drastic. We all know that To Kill A Mockingbird is a modern masterpiece, but after the umpteenth essay, I don’t know how I’ll be able to write “Lee cleverly implies…” again without throwing the book across the freaking exam hall. Don’t get me started on poetry.
If you genuinely aren’t sick of the sound of me you can follow me on Twitter @Channellio. And if by some freakish anomaly you haven’t bought my mother’s book yet, you can do it now (and I promise I won’t judge you). It's called The Fifth Knight and you can get it on Amazon.com here and Amazon.co.uk here. She's doing a sequel called The Blood of The Fifth Knight. But it's not out yet. Because she's been (see above). But it will be out in late 2014: December 09, to be precise. Find it here.