Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


"Aidan, please take your fingers out of your mouth."

Of course I know it's futile. He's been habitually, constantly chewing his nails for the last year or two, and there is little I can say to change the compulsion. This time, he just grins a smug grin, eyes closed, chin thrust out, as if to say, "Ha, ha, you can't stop me." Other times he might make his mean-tiger face, a fierce frown with teeth and claws bared.

"I don't know why you keep doing that, even when it hurts you." About every other day he asks for a Band-Aid to put on a finger that is red and raw from his nibbling. But this time, as soon as the words are out of my mouth, I pull up short and think.

Janet and I were listening to Angela's Ashes, and I think of Malachy "mad with the drink," helpless before his alcoholic compulsions. There was no sense to those compulsions, either . . . no sense at all. And, for that matter, I have my own nervous compulsions. If my hair gets too long, I twist the forelock of my hair until it sticks out in a Disraeli spiral, until my hands and elbows hurt with the exertion. "What if, instead of the irresistable urge to touch my hair, it was the irrestible urge to take a drink?"

"Hey, Boo-boo . . . tell you what. You can remind me whenever I twist my hair, and I'll tell you whenever you're chewing your nails. And maybe we can help remind each other not to do it."



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