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Procrastination is a novel idea

Alison Berkley

During my recent travels, I was constantly confronted with the question:”So, what is it that you do in Aspen?”They always put emphasis on “do” and threw in a hint of condescension/sarcasm with “in Aspen,” as if it’s not really possible to “do” anything “in Aspen.”I’m always tempted to respond with something totally inane like, “I arm wrestle cattle at the Snowmass Rodeo,” or “I spit polish Prince Bandar’s shoes,” or “I work as a personal escort for the Caribou Club.”That would be a lot more entertaining than my knee-jerk response: “I’m working on a novel.”Ha! What a joke. If they only knew what “working on novel” really entails.It means that if I just I say it out loud, this novel thing will actually become a reality. That I will actually be able to extract what is in my head and put it on paper. I will be able to turn an idea into something concrete, something that can be held and touched and taken into the bathroom, or (as is my favorite way to read), in the bathtub, so the pages go from being crisp and new to warped and soggy.It means that one day I will stop writhing in the kind of pain and discomfort I can only compare to feeling nauseated and will finally vomit all these words that are pent up inside me and enjoy the feelings of contentment that only come after a tremendous release.But before I sit down to write each day (or every other day, depending on what’s on my social calendar), I need to make sure my house is completely spotless, every single piece of laundry washed, every dish cleaned. I know that sounds strange coming from someone who is normally a total slob, but a clean house is a clear mind, they always say. Or is it a clean conscience can only be found in a clean house? No, wait. Always wear clean underwear in case you have to be rushed to the hospital? Yeah, that’s it.I can write anywhere, anytime, which means I can travel at the drop of a hat to wherever it is I am needed. My friends from faraway places will drop major hints that they’re dying for me to come visit. They’ll say things like, “We would really love to see you one of these days.”And I go, “OK, with seven days notice I can probably get a decent fare on the red-eye to London. See you in a week, then!”Besides, travel is a great way to gain new perspective on life. I mean, there is nothing more stagnating than sitting in front of a computer screen all the livelong day. I figure I’ll come back from any getaway refreshed and ready to sit down and write, even if I am a little jet-lagged or violently ill from some stomach virus I picked up while surfing in Mexico.Everyone knows nothing clears the mind like a good workout, so writing a novel also means I’m in the best shape of my life. Before I sit down to write, I might go for a long run or hike in the morning (or afternoon, depending on what time I wake up). If I’m really feeling motivated, I’ll jump on my road bike for a long ride, or maybe hike up Ajax or wander into the Maroon Bells wilderness, searching for inspiration like a fisherman for a big, juicy trout. (Why didn’t I think of that before? Fishing! I’ll be like Brad Pitt in “A River Runs Through It,” carrying flies in my hat, rolling my own cigarettes and keeping my catch in a cute little wicker basket.)Being outdoors also gives me some quality time with Looney Paws, who should not have to suffer from neglect just because I am so busy writing. (As if staying home with him 24/7 were enough!) I just thank god I live in the mountains and am able to get outdoors when I need to – I don’t know how all those Pulitzer Prize winning novelists from the big city do it.It’s important for creative peeps to express themselves in many ways, and I say there’s nothing better than preparing a colorful dish like coconut curry salmon or Baja-style fish tacos with fresh peach salsa to help me become a better writer.Cooking elaborate meals for all my friends is an excellent way to keep my creative juices flowing, like, with real juices. I fancy myself quite the little gourmet and will go downvalley if I have to for the finest ingredients. (God knows I’m not going to find them at “The Farmer’s Market” in Aspen – unless my recipe calls for a $2/minute massage, a homemade hat or a $250 ceramic bowl.)Speaking of aesthetics, I also think it is very important for a writer to have the perfect environment to write in, so I plan to paint my house in all sorts of bright, inspiring colors. Only the best for me-me-me, so I will drive to Home Depot in Avon as soon as I’ve got a free moment (hmm, let’s see … tomorrow will do) since they’re the only ones who carry Ralph Lauren paints.What’s really amazing is I have the self-discipline to resist Aspen’s multitude of distractions. I can honestly say that between all this house cleaning, traveling, cooking, decorating and exercising I’ve been doing since I started “working on a novel,” I’ve had no time whatsoever to go to the movies or out to dinner, never mind get wasted every night with all my friends who I hardly have time to talk to anymore.So in the end, I guess those four little words sums it up pretty well. It’s certainly a hell of a lot easier than trying to explain all that.Despite her busy schedule, the Princess reads every e-mail she gets, so please-please-please, send one to alison@berkleymedia.com


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