Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Great post - thanks!

Ronni Bennett

I suspect most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two points of view, sometimes berating ourselves for procrastinating and at others, happy enough to go with whatever pleases us and damn the obligations - self-imposed or otherwise.

"In Hillman's work procrastination means uncountably many things to the soul. It's an intrinsic part of the work process...because what the soul wants is something less literal than we think we want..."

Good grief, yes. There is such a Puritan psyche in American culture that tells us we are slacking (if not sinning) when we are not being outwardly productive every waking moment. But I think it is in our idle time that our souls, too often ignored in our busy, busy lives, is doing what may be far more important work.

In times when I've been very busy, every moment of the day owed to responbility and obligation, I get testy before too long and I know then I need to be alone. Really alone - no music, no books, no cleaning house, no people, no blogging. I couldn't tell you what I do in that time, certainly nothing anyone would call useful. But I am renewed by those solitary hours, centered again and ready to re-enter the world which also serves the soul in its way too.


This piece is very important and meaningful to me. I have been "suffering" so much from this. I do it alone, silently. This "forced sabbatical" has been the most challenging time in my life - it renders me more unproductive than I have ever been. I cling to my blog as if I was about to drown. I could have written three books by now - never mind the one that Danny is waiting for.

It has taught me what to expect when I will retire and prepared me to prepare myself!
I genuinely thank you, Amba, for this post - from the bottom of my heart.


This is one of those posts that I need to read again and again. You mean there may be another option than despising myself for all the things I'm not getting done? I love the idea of procrastination as some kind of "corrective lens" but then I worry that I'll use that theory to never move my butt. As I get older I'm starting to realize that it's not me that needs to change so drastically, just my belief that I NEED to change...


Actually, Danny . . . first of all, the beating oneself up is a necessary part of the soul drama of procrastination, so it doesn't go away. But some of the toxicity and seriousness goes out of it when you see what's happening. And then the resistance actually becomes a little less powerful, a little more playful (though still painful). Rather than getting LESS done, you probably get MORE done, because of course the more you beat up on the soul the harder it resists, while if you kind of wink at it, it gets its fill and lets you work sooner . . . Anyway, none of us can accomplish all that we fantasize, and yet we can accomplish more than we ever dreamed. It's a paradox. Like I've said before, I love reading the journals of great novelists, because they've got these huge intimidating bodies of work and yet they virtually ALL spent incredible amounts of time procrastinating, indulging in their addictions, obsessing about destructive love affairs, panicking about money, and beating themselves up about all of it.

Richard Lawrence Cohen

Idle time is perhaps the single most necessary prerequisite for creativity. Of course, there's a difference between productive idleness within a context of self-discipline and self-defeating inertia.

Amba, thanks so much to you and all your commenters for this extremely valuable discussion. It motivates me to be more idle -- and more productive.


That was a great article, with great links to other sites. Alas, I didn't read the entire article before ordering The War of Art. It will likely join the other books on the shelf, fitting neatly into the category -- "gotta read these sometime".

Usually I feel better about myself when I complete items on my to do list, and feel worse about myself when I let play take precedence over useful work. However, I do enjoy the play at the moment much more than work at the moment.

Still reading. You blog a lot!

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