Friday, October 3, 2014

Boredom: The Hidden Killer

In his suicide note, the actor George Sanders wrote, "Dear World, I am leaving you because I am bored." 
How I wish I didn't identify so strongly with that. But the hours go so slowly as the years go so fast.
I get bored so very quickly, and what a curse! I can stand all but a very small circle of friends only in small doses. I can’t hold jobs because I get bored and lose the ability to concentrate. I leave concerts after three songs. Only the best movies hold my attention for longer than 15 minutes. 
Two things make me feel much better — exercise and hard work. Give me a complicated design job for which I’ll actually be paid and I’m deliriously joyful. But I’ve got a big mouth — I can’t stand when people lacking any visual sense compel me to ruin good work I’ve done for them (by, for instance, compromising the lovely white, or negative, space that is an indispensable part of good design— and no perceptible client-attracting skills. Writing, that for which I’m best known, is a lot less fun, albeit my default setting, in the sense that I commonly try to stave off agonizing feelings of purposelessness by writing a novel.

The world, though, keeps snatching the pen from my hands. I like to imagine (need to imagine!) that my latest, Who Is Keri Fetherwaite?, is a classic of modern American antic fiction, and eminently publishable. But when I wrote 186 literary agents to invite them to consider taking it to market, a grand total of two agreed to have a look, and half of those two had declared it Not Quite Right for My List within 24 hours.
Considering what very hard work it is, do I really want to write another novel that no one will ever read?
The result is the most excruciating sense of futility, the most crushing boredom. I wake up in the morning wondering how on earth I’m going to fill the next 16 hours, and feel very often as though on a long-haul air journey. I have to devise ways to kill time, and this at an age at which I am very well aware that I haven’t a world of time left. I glance at my wristwatch hoping it’s later, hoping that I’ll soon be able to pull the plug on another day and find solace, if that’s the right word, in unconsciousness, all he while loathing myself for feeling as I do. 

On a long-haul air journey, there' the payoff of arrival. In my life, the payoff of getting through the day is the chilling prospect of having, when I wake up, to get through another. I don't think this is how people are meant to feel. 

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