Do it Now

Here’s a quote from a novel by Sue Woolfe ‘Painted Woman’.

It’s one I use often when the urge to procrastinate threatens to take over. You, my fellow writers, painters, poets, photographers and artists of every ilk, might run it through your minds and remember – life is short.

‘You can put it off for years, the need to speak, to paint, whispering to yourself: my time will come. No one expects it of you, it’s enough that you hang the tea towels out to dry. We live this dreadful lie, pretending all that concerns us is that the tea towels dry thoroughly in the sun. We postpone that other voice, the voice from inside that orders: now.’

24 thoughts on “Do it Now”

  1. How true! But then when I do, I have many self doubts and feel guilty because it's not just the tea towels, it's all the other things that go hand in hand with the tea towels.

  2. Even though I have no idea what a tea towel is, have to agree with you totally; yet it is a big fear which until now keeps preventing such a voice to reach life's sureface, however found out that time and again am still able to trust it and its feelings, just wondering what all to hear, if it will finally be able to speak louder than those until now wishpers.

    A wonderful start into the weekend.

  3. A tea towel, Robert, is a piece of cloth that we use for wiping dishes after we have washed them in the sink. The are usually rectangular in shape and hang from a peg beside the kitchen sink when not in use.

    I hope it is a god start to the weekend for you, this urge to speak up ad out. It is for me. Thanks, Robert.

    Thanks to you too, Nancy. That procrastinating voice needs to be silenced in order to let the other one speak. It sounds as though you succeed often enough.

    Sylvia, I agree it's more than tea towels that hold us back. Doubt and guilt can be terrible companions. They can paralyze us.

    We need a good does of doubt to fire our creativity but too much can be crippling. Thanks for your thoughts. I'm glad you resonate with Sue Woolfe's words. I find them inspirational.

  4. oh honey… the voices of my head speak in chinese , i don't understand one single word of what they say .
    do you know someone that speaks chinese for translating the voices of my head to me ?!! they're driving me mad !!
    ohh … chineses !! they're everywhere !! i wish they could shut up a little bit .

  5. I have a suspicion those Chinese voices might come from 'trolls'.

    Your blog is a popular one, Caio. Popular blogs that have a large flow of traffic tend to attract these trolls or spam as we call it. From what I understand the best thing to do is ignore it. Or if you can, block it.

    Thanks for commenting on this post, Caio. I'd hate for those voices in your head to paralyse you. I'd hate for trolls to clutter people's comments to you as well

  6. Do you know I have spent all day postponing that other voice, busying myself doing nothing at all, ridiculous. Why do we do it?

    I don't know Sue Woolfe but she sounds just my kind of writer so I will put her on my 'to be explored' list. Thanks Elizabeth.

  7. Thank you for good words. I journal every day just to convince myself of the same thing, expressing how limited a time I have and how much I have wasted already. Some days the pep talk works fine. Other days I become depressed thinking about all that time:)

  8. I love this post and I love the Sue Woolfe quote. When I read things like this I want to scream mild and not so mild obscenities, shout hooray, dance wildly and start any kind of ruckus I can. I'm glad I at least have the blogosphere to express in, but I feel the need to explode on another scene.

    Again, I loved this urging. Thank you.

  9. Thanks, Eryl. My favorite of Sue Woolfe's books is called 'Leaning Towards infinity'. she is one of our own home grown Australian writers. most likely not well known overseas. I love the depth of her writing. You might, too.

    Thanks, Anthony. If you are half as productive with your journaling as you are in your painting you, you'd have rooms full of words already. It's hard though to feel satisfied with the amount we do. I often struggle with the sense I have not done enough.

    Hi Kass. I'm glad you appreciate the urging. I hate to be a nag but it does help to be reminded from time to time that we ought to get on with it. Thanks.

    Doubt always gets to me too, Mike. I try to temper it into a healthy state and to leave the furniture alone, but it's taken me years to worry less about the messy state of my house. Thanks.

  10. Thanks for sharing this quote Elisabeth. It is a 'dreadful lie' when we suppress our creative urges. It is so easy to let the ever-present demands of daily living commandeer our life. I am very aware of twinges of guilt when I opt for creative expression over home management obligations. Fortunately, guilt holds little sway over me anymore.

  11. You couldn't give me the exact citation for this quote could you: city of publication, publisher, date and page number? I'm thinking of using it in my exegesis as it could help situate my own writing in the wider international current. I have a poem about tea towels drying in the sun, so it links directly to my own work which is very exciting.

  12. Hi Eryl. The quote comes from the novel, Painted Woman, Sue Woolfe's first novel, published in 1990 by allen and Unwin, St Leonards, NSW. And it features on page 85. I'm so pleased that you find it useful.

    Here's another of my favourite quotes, this time from the novel Still Life by AS Byatt. It expresses almost the opposite sentiment of Woolf's quote, but it's linked in so far as both refer to the process of creativity. It follows:
    " She remembered from what now seemed the astonishing free and spacious days of her education the phenomenon of the first day's work on a task. One had to peel one's mind from its run of preoccupations: coffee to buy, am I in love, the yellow dress needs mending, Tim is unhappy, what is wrong with Marcus, how shall I live my life? It took time before the task in hand seemed possible, and more before it came to life, and more still before it became imperative and obsessive.

    There had to be a time before thought, a wool-gathering time when nothing happened, a time of yawning, of wandering eyes and feet, of reluctance to do what would finally become delightful and energetic. Threads of thought had to rise and be gathered and catch on other threads of old thought, from some unused memory store."

    A. S. Byatt Still Life

    I love the expression 'a woolgathering time'. To me it's the flip side of the coin that says 'do it now'. Both are necesaary.

  13. Thanks, Ocean Girl, suffering from the exhaustion of entertaining your inner self is a familiar lament to me, but it's good to reflect as long as you don't brow beat yourself too much.

  14. Thanks Bonnie for your thoughts. I spent this morning lamenting my lot as wife and mother in my writing, particularly as mother.

    I hate to grizzle but when things get on top of me, it's hard not to do so sometimes.

    I might want to ignore the tea towels on the line, in fact I have a basketful of such wet tea towels waiting to be pegged to the line and instead here I am on Sunday morning still in my dressing gown, refusing to get dressed, refusing to shower, refusing to hang out the tea towels – not yet later – like a recalcitrant child, because I want the freedom to write,even if it is 'only' the light weight writing of my blog life.

  15. Caio, I have read a great deal about trolls on line. See: Be careful.

    And Kirk, there is the prevailing notion that the busier you are, the more you can take on. The less you have to do the less you can do.

    That's one of the foremost difficulties in times of economic hardship. Add to that the terrible anxiety that comes with not having enough work and therefore a limited or non-existent income and it becomes almost impossible to be creative, about all you can manage is the housework, that comes almost free of charge except for the cost of cleaning materials.

    But as I'm forever telling myself and others we need to strike a balance. Ho hum.

  16. Yep.

    Sometimes even when I am doing something productive those little voices whisper to me. It's rather confusing. I stop and look up and realise I am working on exactly what I need to be working on.

    There is another voice, more worrying, that tries to convince me that the tea towel really is important and that I am using my time productively and that I shouldn't really worry about all those things I want to do. That frightens me. If it ever takes me in hand I am doomed.

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