The Distracted Writer
By Cindy Morson
Finally, I sit down to write. My coffee is keeping its temperature on the electric mug warmer that I asked for last Christmas. Nothing is more irritating than drinking cold coffee while becoming lost on the computer. I have the Word document set to the preferred font and size. My chair is re-adjusted from my daughter’s height to mine. Radio is off, curtain is open for natural light, scribbled notes of ideas and research beside me, begging for literary decoration. I look like a writer.
Then distractions creep in. Did the contractor for the windows send me a quote yet? I’ll just check my Hotmail quickly. Might as well check the other email account too. But don’t go on Facebook, you’ll never get to work. Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Damn it. You did it. My husband sends a text. Yes, yes, I know, but we’ll chat later. I’m writing. Gulp. Ok, logging off Facebook. I can do this.
I return to Word and, miraculously, my fingers comply with my brain and actually start typing. It’s euphoric. My face relaxes, my mind focuses on the words. Suddenly, my fingers can’t keep up to the evolving stream of consciousness. Characters come alive, shoving themselves in front of one another. Patience everyone, I’ll get to you. They sit with arms crossed, feet tapping, waiting to be heard. I smile. I love them. I’m in my happy place.
The phone rings. I usually ignore it, but I know it’s my dad and I have to talk to him. I just have to. Back to writing. Where was I? My mind takes a few minutes to finish the phone conversation and focus on the text on the screen. Ok, back in the zone. My teenage daughter enters the office/craft room. My fault for combining the two. She starts a sewing project and I remind her to try to not distract me. But she’s there, behind me, cutting, pinning, sewing, and I need to breathe, and focus.
“Mom, what’s for lunch?” my other darling daughter yells from the living room.
She’s eleven and, being the youngest, demands to be heard.
“Whatever you want,” I respond without looking up.
“What?” she yells back.
“WHATEVER YOU WANT!!! I’m trying to write here!” I yell back. Oh, yes I do.
Type, type, type. My eyebrows crease, as if creating an armour against distraction; I pause to smooth them, to take a 10 second mental break. My sewing daughter jumps at the opportunity to ask me what I think of the crop top she re-purposed out of an old t-shirt. I take a breath and remind myself that the kids are only young once and pretty soon she won’t ask my opinion about anything. I turn and sincerely compliment her work. She’s so happy, validated.
“Mom! We have nothing to eat!” the hungry child yells. I sigh, turn back to the computer, hit save, and exit. I go to the kitchen to rescue my daughter from apparent starvation.
I love writing, and I would love to dedicate my days to the art; to update my occupation status as Writer. The pros say to be a serious writer you need to write every day. Every single day. To be successful, you need to work harder and produce more work than everyone else. Maybe one day I’ll be there. Maybe I’m making excuses for not being there already. Life is busy, but is it really too busy that I can’t write something once a day? I work part time at my day job, so on paper I have the time. Do I let dust bunnies collect? Laundry pile up? The fridge to empty? The answering machine to pick up? For the kids to be ignored, their activities missed? Not exercise or go for walks with my husband? Not read? (Gasp! Anything but that!) Some days, yes. I have to do (or not do) all of these things so I can write. If I go too long without writing, a part of me dies. Overly dramatic? Maybe, but I bet writers know what I mean. It gives me as much purpose as anything else I love. But every day? Can it be done? Is it necessary? Well, my occupation status hasn’t changed, so I can see the point. I admit, I am skilled in the art of making excuses.
My eleven-year-old enters the office where I have stealthily returned to the computer. “Awww, I was going to write my book,” she laments, and sits behind me, waiting in line.
I hit save. I will edit later. Far be it for me to get in the way of an aspiring author. Besides, my chauffeur services are needed for a swimming lesson.
While the characters of our imaginations sit patiently, may our days be filled with balance, happiness, no excuses, and a written word or two.
10/24/2016 11:04:32 am
You have REAL distractions and seem to be coping admirably. I just have facebook, twitter, etc. Sometimes I think I'd be more productive going back to a typewriter.
10/24/2016 06:13:21 pm
ahhh...the typewriter...I often hide away to write pen to paper in my notebook. There's something very freeing about powering through spelling mistakes and scratching out errors rather than deleting them so easily. It's the deciphering my chicken scratch that becomes interesting ;)
10/24/2016 02:23:58 pm
Great blog. My suggestion is turn off your wifi on the computer - that will help with the internet distraction. You can also shut your Facebook account off entirely for up to a year without losing anything (after that apparently it's all gone). For quiet time, try writing at 5 or 6 am. That might work. Good luck!
10/24/2016 06:17:15 pm
Sometimes the best ideas come in the wee hours of the night, like a dream. Thanks Brandon!
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