Frantic As My Venice Biological Clock Ticks

venice grand canal at night


I only have two days left here in Venice. I want to get out there and see it all NOW. But I also want to record it in my notebook so I can remember all the little details that I need if I’m going to write about all of this later. I need to note that the natural pistachio ice cream I ate last night was the color of peanut butter. And that the black squid ink pasta I ate for dinner tasted almost cheesy—even though there was no cheese in the dish. These are the sorts of details my middle-aged brain is having a harder and harder time remembering.

Today I wrote all morning. A blog post and three pages of notes for the book I hope to write next year. While I was writing I felt good. Awesome. For me, writing is like doing a jigsaw puzzle. There is a lot of searching and frustration, then you find the perfect word to plug into a difficult sentence and bam, it’s a celebration. Today the perfect words came fairly easily—which meant a lot of self-high fives.

Then I realized that I’d lost half a day of Venice touring time, which made me feel both sad and frantic.

Why did I think ten days would be enough? We haven’t taken our gondola ride yet. Or visited the main venue of the Biennale. Or toured the inside of St. Marks Basilica. We really should have planned to be here for a whole month. Or maybe six months.

I can’t leave Venice without seeing the inside of St. Marks, can I? That would be like going to Washington D.C. and not touring The White House.

(Oh wait, they don’t let you tour The White House anymore, do they? Well you wouldn’t go to Washington D.C. and not stop to peer through the tall metal fence to look at The White House, now would you?)

What I can’t believe is that at this minute, I’m as stressed here on vacation as I am at home. The little voices in my head are yelling at each other. One says: If you don’t get out there and live, RIGHT NOW, you won’t have anything to write about. The other tells me: If you go out there, nothing is going to get written.

This is the eternal conundrum that faces all artists. Make art or go out and get inspiration? You have to do both. But what is the ideal proportion? It’s nearly impossible to get it right.

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