I am feeding two year old Dante with tomato Orecchiette – ‘little ears’ (no, not literally, he’s Anglo-Italian; it’s pasta) and saying stuff like, ‘Is that nice? Is that lully?’, when he pushes his plate away, fixes me with his big blue eyes, and says, ‘Dante procrastinate.’  He dribbles out an ear, a supercilious look on his face. It’s as if Auntie Ard, the child-free, reluctant babysitter extraordinaire, has been punished by the gods of thwarted fertility and her little charge has morphed into Stewie. I wait, in trepidation, lest he starts composing a fourth cantica to the Divina Commedia.
Later, I remark on his prodigious vocabulary to his proud parents. ‘Yes,’ says Daddy, ‘I taught him it to F/U the mums at the playgroup.’ ‘No, you didn’t,’ says Mummy, ‘He keeps hearing me tell you to “Stop bloody procrastinating.”‘ They exchange a married people’s look, which I contrive not to see. ‘Get the car seat. Now!’
Of course Daddy writes and procrastination is the writer’s worst enemy so no wonder the precocious infant has already added it to his word pool.  I’m doing it now writing this blog when I should be researching fascinating facts about noise for an English Breakfast script.  No matter how often I remind myself that thousands of young Thais are waiting, desperate to learn idioms like ‘thunderous’, I keep finding displacement activities.
So far today I have: organised online ink cartridge recycling, looked up a poem by Rumi, emptied all the waste paper baskets, sawn bits off a particularly rampant Peruvian potato vine, hand-washed a woolly, written a free piece for a free magazine, cooked pumpkin soup, facebooked my friend in Kuala Lumpur for no real reason, exfoliated, bought a wedding present for nuptials which don’t take place for another month, put Moroccan oil on my split ends, contributed to an academic chat-room discussion on the use of semi-colons, sorted out old bras for Oxfam in case any famine victims are in dire need of 32FF Bravissimo balconettes, and dug up a photo of me dressed as Heidi for use on a personalised hen nite invite (it was not a recent photo).  All those crucial actions and incredible achievements in one day instead of writing what I am being paid to write.
Procrastination is psychologically bad for you; it lowers the self-esteem. The by-product of all that frittered time is shortened deadlines and stress yet somehow, like a crack-head with a rock, you can’t leave the inconsequential, the unnecessary, the doesn’t-need-to-be-done-yet-if-at-all alone. You know how much better you’d feel if you bit the bullet and cold-turkeyed in rehab (I am mixing my metaphors and extending my analogy simultaneously) but you still don’t.
That great stylist Raymond Chandler suggested that ‘the professional writer’ should put aside a few hours a day when he (it was 1941) doesn’t do anything except write – ‘He doesn’t have to write, and if he doesn’t feel like it he shouldn’t try.  He can look out the window or stand on his head or writhe on the floor, but he is not to do any other positive thing, not read, write letters, glance at magazines, or write checks.  Either write or nothing…Two very simple rules.  A. You don’t have to write. B. You can’t do anything else. The rest comes of itself. ’ *
A mind-freeing concept but then Chandler didn’t have email messages and ‘Chuck thinks you’re hot’ ads popping up on his screen every two minutes…
Ardella Jones
* Raymond Chandler Speaking edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Katherine Sorley Walker [ Allison and Busby 1984]