“Distracted” or “But Shouldn’t I Be…?”

I’m willing to bet there are super-writers, out there, who know how to take advantage of every little five-minute space of free time they’ve got to churn out words of genius. Boy, do I envy those people.

On the flip-side, there are people who believe me to be a kind of super-writer. Something about how I’ve written, like, 32 novels in the last, what, eight years or so? Notwithstanding the facts that 1) I fully acknowledge a good half of those novels to be unreadable lousiness, and 2) I have a lot more free time to dabble in my dream than the average person (since it is, by and large, all I do), the sheer numbers have a tendency to impress those who know about them.

And I won’t say that an average of four books a year (not counting short stories, novellas, and other word-related projects) is a paltry accomplishment. I only wonder how much more I could have written by now if I weren’t so easily “caused to turn away from my original focus of attention or interest; diverted; pulled in conflicting emotional directions; unsettled”.

Instead of using to full advantage all those hours I’ve got for writing, my days generally go like this:

[Danielle wakes and squints her half-blind eyes to bring the green glow of her digital clock into some semblance of focus] Ugh, what time is it? That late? …Or, given how long it took me to shut down and go to bed, last night, that early? Well, I’m up now. Let’s get cracking on [insert working title of current novel project here]!

[She rouses her laptop from hibernation, only to find that she has no internet connection] Curse you, Technology Fiend! Oh well, you’ve not truly foiled me; my business is with a Word document, this morning, and I can totally access that, with or without a clear signal from the whatsit. …But shouldn’t I be able to get online, just in case I need to research something related to my plot?… Never mind. Write.

[Her gaze forced upon her novel in progress continually moves, unbidden, to the little internet icon in the corner] Can I get online now? …How about now? …Now, maybe? YAY! At last! Three bars, whoo-hoo! Now I can write in peace! …But shouldn’t I check Facebook, real quick? I might have important notifications. And anyway, it’ll only take a few minutes.

[She ascertains that a couple people liked her photo, somebody joined her in commenting on so-and-so’s status, her writing buddy has yet to reply to her private message, and her news feed is full of friends’ complaints/hurrahs about their actual lives] Boy, am I ever grateful I don’t have to deal with any of those stressful, time-consuming issues. Back to writing, now. …But shouldn’t I post something on my Ballad” page, first? I haven’t put up anything new since the day before yesterday; wouldn’t want it to get too quiet over there.

[She selects from a store of images related to Robin Hood and/or Renaissance Faires and/or music and/or fantasy and/or writing, and posts it along with commentary from Will Scarlet] There. Now I can— whoops, somebody likes and commented on my status. “Lol, I know, right? #PreachingToTheChoir” No more internet now! Writing time! …But shouldn’t I check my e-mail?

[Two e-mail accounts inspected, eight blogs posts read, three comments formulated (and revised, and reread for typos, and finally posted), and another Facebook check later…] Okay! Enough! The next hour is dedicated to WRITING, and writing ALONE!

[She types with a vengeance, producing 500 words of solid gold, and another thousand or so of arguable silver. Nearly two hours fly past unnoticed before she finally reaches the end of the chapter] Whew, that was rough. Forgive me, protagonist, but it’s for the greater good of the story. You’ll thank me afterward, if you live that long. Ow, speaking of living, I’m dying of starvation. Almost two in the afternoon? Yeah, I should probably have breakfast. …But shouldn’t I be writing?

[Gnawing hunger drags her downstairs to the kitchen, where she tries not to faint while waiting for her smoothie to blend] Should’ve scarfed down a bagel half to tide me over, first. I’d say I’ll know better for next time, but this is already yesterday’s next time, so… Mmm, yummy smoothie. Aargh, brain-freeze! I need a distraction. TV, what’s on you?

[TV proving to be the usual disappointment, she turns to that book she’s been meaning to read for months, and loses herself in the pages for far longer than she’d intended to spend over breakfast] Shoot! Where is this day going? For shame, author – you can’t leave your word-count in this state! Out of the kitchen! To the stairs! Oh, hello, piano…

[She serenades herself with hits from the Backstreet Boys, Barry Manilow, and Gant-o’-the-Lute, attempting to channel the lattermost’s voice through her own throat. That’s a failed cause, as usual; try as she might, she’s no musical match for her minstrels. So she sings as her tailor instead] Ah, Edgwyn, I love your voice. “It’s not really so terribly wonderful,” he demurs. Nonsense! I mean, yeah, you’re no Allyn-a-Dale… but who is? “I am,” Allyn points out. Besides you. “Then no one at all. Oughtn’t you to be writing?” Well, yeah, but… “Upstairs, girl,” Edgwyn says firmly, acting in his capacity as his author’s life coach.

[Thus compelled by the voices in her head, Danielle returns to work…after messing around online] Dah, why doesn’t this chapter want to be written?? I must have started it over five times in the last half-hour! There’s a blog post in this frustration somewhere…

[Abandoning one Word document for another, she goes on a thoughtful rant about the difficulties of getting any writing done, even for talented, passionate, semi-super-writers with nothing but time on their hands] Well, that took about three times as long as it should have. Still, good piece. We’ll set that in the queue to post on, say, [selects a date a month-and-a-half from now]. Excellent. Back to the novel. Wait, what time is it? Shouldn’t I have fed the dog an hour ago? Oh, right, he’s dead“You should still feed yourself, though,” Edgwyn nudges. Aw, c’mon, I already ate today! “Eating should happen multiple times a day, Danielle,” he reminds her patiently. But… shouldn’t I be writing?

My Edgwyn – voice of wisdom, occasional bossy-boots, ever loved.

[At her tailor’s insistence, it’s back downstairs for dinner and a DVD with her sisters that she hadn’t planned to stay for, but c’mon, it’s Disney] Love that movie. But this day’s almost over, and I’ve gotten nothing done! C’mon, Danielle, write like you mean it!

[She cloisters herself in her room, allowing nothing and no one to pull her attention away from the world of her novel. …Until the phone rings] Dang-blast it all, who dares disturb my— Yay, it’s Tirzah! Hello-o-o, writing buddy! Sorry news: I’ve only managed – [runs a quick word-count on today’s progress] – 2,317 words. …Yes, “only”. …Well, I was aiming for two-and-a-half K. …That’s “plague-rotted, overachieving super-writer of doom” to you, Ink Caster. And it’s all Edgwyn’s fault, because he kept making me eat. Speaking of bothersome fictional people, how’s life with your ever actin’ thief lord?

[She continues her talk with her friend for as long as she’s got phone battery power to abuse. Thus ends this day as do so many others: With Danielle distracted from going to bed at any kind of reasonable hour]

And now that this blog post is written and my clock reads 2:03 PM, I should probably get some breakfast. After that… well, time will tell.

2 thoughts on ““Distracted” or “But Shouldn’t I Be…?”

  1. 32 novels is a lot of novels. And hey, even if half of them are unpublishable, you’ve still got 16 that are worth sticking with, and at the end of the day, you can always make yourself a fort out of the manuscripts, which is in many ways a much better use of 32 novels that getting them published (riches? fame? bah, what rubbish!).

    I think procrastination is a vital part of any writer’s routine. I think it’s our way of letting our subconscious mull over all the details before it’s ready to be brought to our attention. And if that’s not a good excuse, just blame Tirzah 😛

    • Ooh, a manuscript fort… papered in sheets of text so ridiculous, you’ve got to laugh at how poor they are… You may be onto something, sir! (And if comic wallpaper isn’t yet a thing, it should be a thing. Funnies are more entertaining than rows of flowers or what-have-you.)

      You’re probably right about the vital role of procrastination. I would take it a step further with the supposition that, without it, addictive writers such as I myself would have even less balance in life than we already do, as we would never take time out to caterwaul at the piano or watch movies with our families or otherwise smell the roses. And that would be about as healthy as continually putting off breakfast until sometime after lunch.
      But yeah, I do blame Tirzah. She and Edgwyn are so totally in cahoots.

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