Off-putting behaviour

After much delay I finally get around to the subject of procrastination

AL Kennedy


Boiling kettle. Photograph: D Hurst/Alamy

I have a small blackboard in my study. On it, I carefully chalk all of the writing-related tasks I have not yet completed: essays, scripts, treatments, rewrites, short stories, letters, novel-planning, crying in a corner, talking to my kettle … There are days when I love this blackboard and its anal-retentive attention to detail: its tiny chalk-holding flange, its even tinier rubbing-out cloth: and there are also days when it feels like having a debt-collector in the room with me, smelling of broken legs and hardened hearts.

Having pretty much lost two months to illness, I am currently ignoring the board completely. I haven’t allowed myself to approach it closely, never mind study its listed assignments, or consider how many others I am hiding from myself by simply keeping them in my head. Off the board and in my brain, I know they will come adrift from their deadlines and end up getting tangled in each other, but I don’t care – a visible inventory would simply drive me back to the kitchen where I would end up giving the kettle abuse. And actually my kettle’s very nice.

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