See What Happens When You Avoid Writing?

Shredded Envelopes

No, that’s not a pretty picture. Yes, I know that food blogs are supposed to be fairly busting out of their posts with succulent, juicy, fantastic pictures. Hell, that’s not even food. But that is a picture of my mind this afternoon and how antsy, a bit manic, and certainly ADD-ish I’m feeling as I’m trying to avoid writing my book.

Okay, one giant step backwards. Earlier today, I was in the middle of answering comments on my post about being depressed and baking bread. (I’m no longer depressed, but I’m still baking bread.) Then I heard the honk of the mail carrier. She pulls into our driveway whenever she has packages, and that honk is a heads up to get my ass out there and pick up my mail. “Holy go to war,” I say aloud to no one. It’s pouring here today—for the past two days, actually–and the last thing I wanted to do (besides writing) was slosh through the stream that’s carving its way along our driveway. Still, out I ran, barefoot, with my shoulders somewhere up around the top of my ears, as if that would prevent me from getting soaked. 

Back inside the kitchen, I flip through the stack of mail while Devil Cat figure-eights between my legs. Then I see it: A padded envelope. And here’s how my thinking went: Padded envelope = great compost material = I-must-rip-this-open-right-this-freaking-second-and-shred-it = another reprieve from writing.

As I tear the envelope into pieces, I’m assaulted by a cloud of fine lint-like dust. I sneeze. I think asbestos: Asbestos = cancer. Can I get cancer from shredding an envelope? There’s got to be a better way. I consider the obvious: The shredder in my office. But I know the envelope is too thick and will jam the machine. (I’ve tried sawing through those gibberish-filled prospectuses I get from Morgan Stanley only to have the shredder cough and dry heave as I flip the button back and forth between “auto” and “reverse.”)

Then it leaps out, fully formed like Athena from Zeus’s forehead: The Vitamix. This is going to be a blast. I feel like I’m seven again, discovering everything I can suck up with the wand of my mother’s new Hoover vacuum cleaner—our dog’s tail, my lips (sorry, kids, but I was doing this long before Kylie Jenner and her challenge were even born), the hem of my mother’s dress, the tinsel on the Christmas tree, a fish from my aquarium.

Vitamix Shredder

I half hope it doesn’t work. I’m more interested in seeing things screw up. Badly. All that drama could keep me procrastinating and out of my writing studio all day. So I stuff the Vitamix canister with chunks of envelope and let it rip. To my surprise, it chews through everything—and in record time. On the one hand: Shit! No explosions, smoking, or bloody fingers. (Yes, I’d even take mangled digits over writing.) On the other hand: Wicked cool! I think what a great off-label use for the Vitamix. Perhaps I should call the Vitamix scion and share my discovery. I can see the commercial now: “HELLO! You, too, can make a smoothie and then blitz the almond milk container into a million little pieces that are perfect for your compost pile!”

No, no. I have a better idea. I’ll manufacture it myself. I’ll call it The E-Leite-Inator.

Suddenly, I’m restless again. That took up, what, maybe five minutes of my day? I’m itching for a diversion. Working in our brand-new garden beds is out of the question thanks to the downpour. I worry that I’ll look outside and see two of every animal—along with our tomato, kale, broccoli, watermelon, pepper, cucumber, basil, thyme, cilantro, chive, parsley, and oregano plants—swirling by on a turgid rapid that comes up to the sills of the windows in my studio. I consider hunkering down over my memoir, but no, absolutely not. Today it’s just too damn hard. Instead of writing my book, I write this post. But now that it’s finished, what?

I know. Dinner. And then Antiques Roadshow.

And as far as writing goes, Scarlett said it best:

David Leite's signature



  1. I know this game well. I play it during bouts of “I’ve got to get this business plan started,” and “I just shot 250 exposures for my portrait project.” Suddenly the idea of organizing the pantry sounds fun for 5 minutes.

    1. Right, KitchenBeard? Until you’re surrounded by an entire kitchen full of pantry items that are past their expiration date and have to be disposed of, and the original project seems mighty alluring….

  2. Gawd, the stuff we do to avoid doing something else! Last week I put off going shopping (real shopping, shopping for clothing and other stuff for me!) by cleaning the accumulated goo out from the underbelly of my ancient cooktop. Top that for desperation, Leite!

    1. Susan, right now that takes the cake…but I did take a bunch of stuff that wasn’t breaking down in the composter (twigs, egg shells, roots, etc.) and Vitamix-ed them.

      1. I love that! It’s a genius diversion! And, it’s something interesting, and could be construed as fun, too! You bring out the curious kid in me, David!

        Ironically, the cooktop diversion was the same thing I had been avoiding by doing other things. That’s how much I hate shopping!

  3. There’s nothing like a good dose of procrastination. My life motto! P.S. – The garden beds look awesome! Are you planning hardscape between them (pea gravel, brick, etc.) or leaving the space au naturale?

    1. Thanks, Tara. As you saw, we have the white limestone. Plus, we’re putting a small table and two chairs in the center, just for us. The One so loves being under a star-filled sky. (There is a proper post about the garden coming–once this damn rain stops and I can get more shots.)

  4. When I first saw the image at the top of the post, I thought you’d burned a draft of your book—glad that’s not the case! Good luck with the writing, and please sign me up for an E-Leite-Inator…

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