30 July 2001

“It is good to be without vices, but it
is not good to be without temptation.”
   - Walter Bagehot

I seem to be having trouble today with my attention span. It’s hard staying focused on a single activity for more than a few moments. Right now, even as I make these words on the page, I am edgy, thinking about the books on the shelves behind me, on the papers covering my desk, on whether or not I should light some incense, on whether I need more light in the room as I write, and even on whether there will be enough ink in my pen to finish out this thought. It’s taking every bit of nerve and grit I possess to not stop writing and go off to do something else.

This is the “monkey mind” at work—the unfocused, unstructured array of undifferentiated thoughts, coming across my consciousness, reminding me of everything other than the task at hand. It feels like temptation. It probably manifests itself as sin. There is no going into “flow” when the monkey mind is at work—there is only the constant craving for something new and different. It’s the same thing that fuels the desire to shop. I want a new thing, a better thing than I now have, a thing that will make me forget how dreadfully inept I am at what I’m trying to do.

Other writers must go through this—some more than others, but the thought must rise on occasion. 

Nobody talks about it, though. It’s like a dirty little secret we keep to ourselves, fearful that if we admit to it, our membership in the writing society will be revoked.

Excuse me. I have a pressing need to go do something else.