Sunday Rant: Guilt

Every sunday is the same: guilt-soaked. It starts with writer's guilt. There's always this point in the afternoon at which I'm on the couch and I shouldn't be. Writing is such a self-indulgent game; nobody else profits, really. If I do or if I don't won't matter in the long term.

Whereas, I think, the more productive things I could be doing as I sit on the couch will matter. I could actually get dressed, which would probably improve my self-respect (an old pair of boxer shorts paired with a stained t-shirt never did anyone any favours). I could buy some puff pastry so that the man can make a tarte tatin, which will later bring us both pleasure. I could do the laundry, which will ensure that I don't wake up one morning midweek to discover I have no clean pants. A long walk along the river would be good for my health and my sanity, even if it is cold outside. Or, if I insist on staying inside and sitting on the couch, I could respond to any one of a dozen emails.

Yes, that's what I'll do! I think. Something nice and easy, that will make me feel more productive than I actually am, so that when I appear in the kitchen later after the man has made soup from scratch and done all the dishes I can confidently announce that at least I'm all caught up with my correspondence. So there.

Except that email is actually just another sore point. Because of that thing, where you need to reply to an email and then you don't and then it's too late, and you end up looking like an asshole when all you actually wanted to do was write a thoughtful and considered response. Which is a thing I do all the time. If I haven't responded to your email, it's probably a good sign - it means I actually really want to. And probably won't anytime in the near future.

It's just that email is basically too easy. And so everybody expects you to respond swiftly. A hundred years ago, a swift response might have taken weeks, and involved actual ink, melted wax, galloping horses, ships bobbing in the sea. Nowadays a swift response takes minutes, involves only the press of a button. And for some reason this just freaks me out.

So I guess I'll just sit here paralysed by my own guilt and anxiety, and think about all the emails I need to send, and then after all that I won't send any of them and in a week it will be inappropriate to respond anyhow. And I'll feel guilty about it, so I'll try to distract myself by writing something. And then I'll think, gee, you should really go put a bra on and brush your hair. But that will seem like such a lot of effort, so I'll think, I know! I can catch up on correspondence!

And then I'll just end up staring out the window, watching the almost imperceptible change in the leaves and trying to decide if it's Autumn yet or if we're still in an in-between season.