Willpower is not my strong suit. It’s not my weakest weakness, but I could do better. What are the biggest weaknesses in my willpower folder?

Writing and Reading.

Writing should not be an issue for a writer. When I get these ideas in the middle of the night, when I awaken with my teeth clenched in my mouthguard and my eye mask askew, my hands shaking with the visage of the ethereal nightmare that I’m watching grow smaller and smaller as it drifts out the window, lifting up into the naked branches of the cherry tree, and beyond, into the clear clear clear dark sky, I reach for my laptop.

I open a Word doc and type the sentence I want to remember, the sentence that will fuel my message later. Much later. I have too many writing prompts on too many topics.

But Reading. That’s my biggest downfall, my Achilles’ heel.

I am constantly finding one thing after the other to read online! (Exclamation points are another weakness but I have almost conquered that one, and you’ll note that the previous exclamation point is warranted!.)

“The anatomical basis of Achilles’s death is more likely to have been injury to his posterior tibial artery behind the medial malleolus, in between the tendons of the flexor digitorum longus and the posterior tibial vein. This area would have been included in Thetis‘s grip.” See what I mean? I’m pathetic.

The New Yorker tells me that I’ve hit the wall. I’ve read all the free articles they’re going to allow me. “Subscribe for $1 a week and get a tote.” I have too many totes, but I very nearly do it. I fear that if I subscribe to one, the rest will follow like literary dominoes. The Wall St. Journal, The Washington Post. Like the 12 Temptations of Christ, they’re calling out to me from their individual browser windows until I have filled way too many hours of my day with an endless loop of reading.

The New York Times is a deep bottomless pit of content. Yes, I do subscribe to The New York Times, digital edition, so it’s my own fault. I had been a faithful print subscriber to The Wall Street Journal for years, and then, damn it, the he/she faceless, anonymous paper delivery person kept forgetting (even when I left notes) that on Wednesdays, if he/she left my Wall St. Journal in the Beachcomber tube, the weekly Beachcomber would not be delivered. They penalize us like that. (Fair enough.)

I finally had enough of occasionally missing out on Wednesday’s local news, obits and the Calendar. I called The Wall St. Journal and told the man in India about the tube that the he/she, faceless, anonymous paper delivery person was hijacking everyday and, with unfortunate results, on Wednesday’s. “I would like to cancel my subscription.”

I would miss Dan Neil, the automotive columnist, whose blend of wit and mechanical knowledge is quite attractive to me. I wouldn’t miss the $5000 Gucci handbags in the monthly magazine section. I wouldn’t miss the Financial pages because I never read the Financial pages. I wouldn’t miss that humor guy whose pieces appear in the lower right spread “below the fold” on the Opinion page. (Below the fold is where they put the lesser content.) I can’t remember his name, but I sincerely believe that I could write a humor piece as good as he. (And don’t tell me it’s “as good as him”. When did the world switch from “he” to “him” in this context? It’s everywhere. Don’t they read Grammar Girl?)

Here I go again, off an another reading tangent. I googled* “Wall St Journal opinion page humorist” and after Peggy Noonan (!) I find a list of Top Humorists. Stephen King is #1 on this list. Joan Collins is #3. What? Art Buchwald, my childhood idol (You think I’m joking?) is #7. Tsk.

The man in India asked if I would keep my subscription if he directed the he/she, faceless, anonymous paper delivery person to install a proper tube for The Wall St. Journal. Like a good customer service rep, he diffused my annoyance and I agreed to allow 2 weeks for the tube to be installed.

I waited 4 weeks. Still no tube, and yet another lost Beachcomber issue. I called and there was no distracting me this time. I cancelled my subscription and went online to subscribe to The New York Times. I’m sure that Rupert Murdoch is not going to miss my $99 per half year.

Now I’m reading a whole new litany of favorite columns. Modern Love is best. I crave warmth like the Pillsbury Doughboy.

Facebook is my love/hate relationship. Why does someone have to ask a question of their readers that I feel responsible to answer?

This morning a fellow writer, a friend, who is writing a novel set in the time of Boccacio, posted “Who can tell me what the paste left after the oil is pressed from olives is called in Italian? In medieval times, it was a treatment for arthritis and joint pain.”

I responded,
“No, I cannot. However, thanks to your question and my lack of self-control with Google, I now know more than I need to about olives— production, harvest and economics!”

I’m incorrigible.

I found a solution to my lack of willpower with respect to Reading online.

I decided that, beginning today, I shall unplug my laptop when I begin to read online. When the power percentage reaches 0% and my MacBook powers down, that’s it. Tough luck. I’ll have to proceed to the items on my “To Do” list.

Did it work? No. As soon as the pop-up warned me that I was at 5%, I ran for the charger. I needed to finish “How Weed Got Me in the Best Shape of My Life”. What? I don’t need weed to exercise. But I was curious. This is Washington state, after all.

I should note that the day after I cancelled my Wall St. Journal subscription, I found that a shiny new Wall St. Journal tube was in place at the end of my driveway with the morning’s issue.

The very next day, it was unceremoniously removed.

*Is the verb “google” upper case or lower case? When I google it, I get everything to do with the search engine and nothing to do with the verb. 😉

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  1. Linda, this is amazing. Loved the story of the wall st journal tube haha.

    And I can relate very much relate to finding my self deep on a rabbit hole quest inspired by shear curiosity. They can be fun, but not great when you are short on time. I’ve started to leave my power cord at home when at a cafe, so that I know I only have a certain amount of juice to get my work done. Turns out knowing that I don’t have unlimited power makes me much more effective in my work.

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