Tag Archives: expectations in writing

Yellow Jackets and the Demons of Indecision

By the time this post appears, it will have been a week since the exterminator came and took care of the yellow jacket problem in my back yard.

I didn’t know the exterminator had even arrived until my husband called me around mid-morning to say he’d received an invoice for the exterminator’s services via email. My husband was in San Diego at the time, attending the Comic Con.

I was surprised because the appointment had been scheduled for 2:00 PM., and  because it was raining cats and dogs when I’d left the house at around 8:20 AM. I was attending a conference in town.

Of course, it makes much more sense to extract a wasp’s nest first thing in the morning. That’s when the nest is most occupied by wasps.

I just hadn’t thought of it.

Still, I was in doubt. I couldn’t  fathom that the heavy rain and wet conditions wouldn’t interfere with the extermination. Honestly, I half-expected the phone call was to cancel.

But my husband confirmed that, yes, according to the exterminator, the wasps had in fact been “augmented” from the yard. It was a sizable nest, my husband quoted the exterminator as saying, probably 500 wasps or more. There is a chance that a few are still buzzing around looking for their home, but they won’t last long without their nest,” my husband continued.

Something about this last observation made me feel cold-hearted.

I’m not confessing a secret love for yellow jackets here, or anything like that, but I have to admit to experiencing some residual feelings of guilt over creating a situation that caused the death of hundreds of innocent creatures. Those yellow jackets were, after all, only behaving as yellow jackets do: making and protecting their home, creating more yellow jackets, and generally building an existence.

It just so happened that their existence was interfering greatly with ours.

Specifically, they made it impossible to mow the yard, first by attacking my husband when tried mowing the back yard before we left town, then attacking a friend, who tried to mow just the front yard while we were gone.

They simply had to go.

Still, I couldn’t help imagining those few surviving wasps, stunned and confused, hovering around the hole in the ground that was once their nest. Couldn’t help but sense their groundlessness.

Such are the thoughts of a writer.

But then I realized that, since the extermination had been taken care of, my afternoon was free.I felt cheered, then, and shifted my thoughts to how to spend the rest of my day.

And this, dear reader, is precisely the moment that the demons of indecision appeared.

A virtual drop-down list of options, including everything from doing homework for the conference to editing my manuscript, finishing a quilt I’ve been sewing to taking a nap with the cat, to going to the gym or staying on campus to work on my syllabus, all popped into my mind.

Good options, all. But together, potentially overwhelming.

Especially since I am apt to paralyze myself with indecision in these moments.  I mean, just making the decision to eat out, for example, can evolve into a mental debate of what and where to eat.

Choosing to write opens an even wider array of menu options: should I write poetry or prose, something formal or informal, personal, creative or academic?  Should I write something new or revise something old? Should I catch up my correspondence by sending cards or composing emails?

Really, the list is endless.

The point is, I tend to put too much pressure on myself when it comes to decisions. I feel I must make the absolute best decision and fear that making the “wrong” decision will result in drastic, long-lasting consequences which I neither wanted nor intended.

Even though this has never happened.

Still, it is true that no matter what I choose to do, I am choosing NOT to do a whole host of other things. If I write, I am not exercising. If I do homework, I am not working on my poetry manuscript. If I work on my blog at Starbucks, I am not working on my quilt at home.

And of course, making no decision at all is a decision in itself.

So it is that with every choice I make, I feel a little bit of grief and a smidgen of sorrow. Like those stunned wasps unhoused by the exterminator, my unchosen options hang around searching for a home – a place into which to burrow and build an existence.

But such are the thoughts of a writer.