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Day 4

I've read that you must repeat an action six times in order to make it a habit. According to "The Power of Habit" that's how long it takes to start a neural groove. On the seventh go round the thing will be a tiny bit easier to do. And it will continue to be easier each time you do it.

I'd been getting pretty good at that last spring. I was swimming a few miles a week and it had become a part of the architecture of my days--something I was starting to do automatically. Like writing which I did daily there was a time when I swam three or four times a week and it was a part of my days. Back then though I lived in a suburb where the Y had two pools very close to home. There is only one pool around where I live now and it's a twenty minute drive and you have to book your lane in advance so there is no last minute swimming and because I have to make my appointment a week out I don't always know the shape of my days and I often have to cancel. If you cancel too much, or forget to cancel you get a bad name at the Y. Perhaps you even get censured or shamed. I don't know what the punishment is, but it scares me. The same way that library fines once made me just resist going to the library. I'd have unreturned books weighing me down and becoming a lien against my reading.

I want to start making things easier. And because I'm the kind of person who often is overly ambitious about the nature of my days and how much can be accomplished, I tend only to make the day I have planned be an indictment against the day I am actually living.

I hate appointments. I hate time. I hate structure.

I want everything to just happen organically and when it doesn't it seems like failure. My mother once told me that she believed it was easy for writers and things would just flow out of them naturally. My mother hadn't read much about the writers who agonized. But because it wasn't ever completely easy, I began to doubt that I was a true writer. It's easy to feel the same about art. To forget that talent is really not the be all. And if my sentences came out clunky and misshapen then it was my fault. Forgetting that you can revise. You can paint over a bad painting too. Anything can be fixed. But I forget that when I buy into the fantasy of natural talent and things coming easy.



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