Curiosity: why does the practice of writing send me into flight, one kind or another, either manic optimizing, or, when I cut off that escape route, narcolepsy– sitting trapped at my desk or in my chair, counting the words or the minutes, desperate for it to be over? I have been reading and hearing stories of writers who don’t wander off. They do the hard work. Trollope tied himself to his chair. Set and met word goals. Did not seek pleasure.

Perhaps my problem is taking discomfort as a sign of failure. Believing that writing should feel good. Which is not to say make your life grim, but if your goal is to feel good, you might have trouble writing. Developing a skill is frustrating, often disappointing— you measure yourself and come up short; your attention is bad and then, when you finally write, your writing is bad. You can’t get yourself to the table and then you get to the table and find it bare.

I want to develop greater tolerance for those disappointments. When I meet them, greet them, and keep working. For me the task of becoming a writer appears to be, first and foremost, the task of holding and directing my attention.