They're all there now, lined up, the unread and the already read (raw and the cooked), waiting for my action. Respond, file or delete.
So I'm free to resent them, lined up like that, demanding their snip of attention. I'd rather finish reading the Ruth Rendell novel I've been meandering through (Grasshopper, something I picked up for about 13 cents at a 2.00 per paper grocery bag library sale), or watch another episode of Arrested Development on DVD, or the episodes of 24 that have stacked up on the box.
I collected first drafts of semester-long projects from my senior creative writers last week. This afternoon I read through a few of them, marveling at the energy in their prose, at the sloppy use of commas, at what gets left out as much as what gets put in. One of them sent me a story 106 pages long, a first-person buildingsroman about a feckless stoner who learns the secret of life: delayed gratification. The story was fun to read, even though some of the most necessary scenes were missing from the draft. It's not a story, I emailed him, but a novel. A novel missing crucial scenes. I wonder how much of the storyslashnovel is autobiographical, if the "lost weekend" story has become, now, the "lost undergraduate education and transitional year afterward" story, and if the writer has been mired in the same hair-raising antics as his narrator for the last four years.
Did I mention that I read that story on my computer screen, and used the Word comment function to respond to it, tapping my end comment in with the pads of my fingers, exposed now and fully functional at about 80 wpm because I finally remembered to whack off my burgeoning fingernails? I feel very 21st century.
Yes, I got all my email messages back and read them, and responded to a few of them, and got a little annoyed by some others (pressure on one front to attend the high school reunion in Acapulco even though I have already announced that we need a new roof, I don't want to return to high school mode, I can't get someone to be with Lizzie in the mornings while Dave has to go to work, and--hm, maybe I didn't mention this--I just don't want to anymore; on another front, irritating emails about meetings I didn't attend, emails that create anxiety in me about not attending those meetings, number one, and then about what kind of work is going to be dropped in my lap as a result, number two. It might've been better if they'd just disappeared completely, as I'd suspected.