Sean’s article on Interruptions

Again Sean, not letting me down, gave me an article I find interesting and a different perspective of how interruptions affect our writing.  His internal battles were a refreshing twist to something I think all writers experience.

 The biggest distractions for writing for me come not from other people, but from my own insecurities. As I start to write something, whether it be a sentence, a scene, a piece of dialogue, I hear two sounds in my mind. You could almost call them voices. One is encouraging. One is not. On the days when the prospect of writing is more daunting, the cruel, mocking voice is far louder than any other. It whispers in my ear.
                           You can’t do this. You will fail. You won’t be able to finish this. Why did you just write that last sentence? That last scene lacked emotion. The first line of dialogue is unrealistic. No one’s going to believe this story.  
                           Fair to say, it can be quite distracting to listen to this voice. Then there is the other side of my mind, which is the more rational part. This side does not come out as often as I would like, though I am encouraged when it does. It also whispers in my ear.
                           You can do this. No, it’s not perfect, but you have time to make it better. Just keep on writing. Ignore everything else and focus on what matters. Just keep on writing.
                           However much I distrust this voice (how can something so nice be true?), it is the one I must listen to. Ultimately, there is no race. Writing takes time. It is a process that requires one to waste a large amount of paper, ink, and sanity writing garbage before an actual decent thought is constructed. It means sorting through the unused, dusted parts of the brain to find something worth telling. I believe I have something  that is personally worth exploring, worth telling. Whether or not anyone else thinks so is irrelevant. And because I would rather write than not write, I ignore the voices, the insecurities, the questions, the panic signals, the laughter (real or imagined) from others, the expectations, and just keep on writing.

Those days of Interruptions

My pen and pristine paper await my creative endeavors.  Or in modern terms my computer is open to an empty Word document waiting for my fingers to type those words that will surely create the next ‘Great American novel’.  Mind willing and thoughts clear, I have formulated and dreamed each incident while doing my necessary menial tasks for the day.  Words flow onto the paper with surprising ease until I have three pages.  Suspiciously I go back to the start and read those words.  With satisfaction I see the story is flowing exceptionally well and my characters are both unique and plausible.  I feel the suspense, I feel the tension and so will my readers.

The phone rings.

Irritating shrill noise filters into my mind.  For a moment I think I will not answer it.  But – every day behavior breaks through my desires.  It might be important.  I look at the caller ID.  It is my daughter.  I must answer – there may be a problem she needs help with or even worse – what if my darling Grandson was ill?  Fortunately she only wants to visit.  Murphy misses his grandmother.  I agree – alternating between happiness and disappointment.  I ask that she waits a few hours so I can finish at least one chapter.  My daughter is very supportive of my writing.  She agrees.

With a sigh of relief I can almost feel my mind change gears and ideas flood my thoughts in chronological order again.  Nothing has been lost by the short interruption.

The doorbell rings.

I seriously consider ignoring that ding-dong sound.  It is probably Jehovah Witnesses anyway.  I willingly moved to this remote little town in the mountains from a bustling city for this specific reason – to write in peace and solitude.  Out here, I hardly knew anyone.  Out here, I made a personal choice not to join in any activities.  But habits are hard to break.  Bad manners are inexcusable.  I open the door and there is a woman wearing the uniform of our newly appointed ‘by-laws officer’ standing there.

“It’s after noon and your water is still running.”  Her jarring high-pitched voice grates.

Guilty as charged.  I look at the water cascading in the air and drops sparkle in the brilliant sunlight. Leaning over to the tap, I turn it off.  I mumble an unapologetic ‘sorry’.

“This is the second time I’ve come here – so no more warnings.”  She starts scribbling on her pad and I know she is giving me a ticket.

Spirits are dampened when I close the door.  Now irksome thoughts of strict watering laws make it nearly impossible to do anything but concentrate solely on monitoring your water every other day.  Between moving hoses around my vast yard – that beautiful yard filled with massive pines that our deer love so much – as well as keeping check on the times, I am busy and confused.  We have two rivers running through our town.  I am truly sorry they have no water in Afghanistan – and if I knew how I would surely run at least one of our rivers in their direction.  Unfortunately neither I nor anyone else has figured out how to do that.   Now my thoughts of writing are shared with ideas on sharing our vast fresh water supply with the rest of the world.  I try to push them away.  It takes a supreme effort.

The next few pages are more stilted, less creative when I go back to re-read them.  They will require editing and changing.  But the general idea is there.  It is salvageable.  I continue typing, nowhere near as gung-ho as I started, but still gaining ground.

The doorbell rings again.

Angrily, I question my mother’s advice.  Maybe it’s a two-way street.  Is it bad manners to continually bother people in the privacy of their homes?  With a scowl on my face I open the door again.  There is a stranger standing there.  He hands me a card.

“When you’re ready to cut that dead tree down give me a call.”

Astounded, I look at him without smiling.  It is my neighbor’s doing again.  He wants me to cut my completely healthy huge tree down because it blocks the sunlight in his backyard.  At least once a week he comes up with schemes to try and force me to do just that.  It’s my yard and my tree and especially my business.  It leans slightly towards my house.  There is no risk to my neighbor even if it was dead.

Sighing, I notice my daughter and grandson pulling up in the drive-way.

“I certainly hope I am gone before I pay for you to cut down that ‘dead’ tree,” I sigh and try to graciously take his card.

Then I turn to my grandson and bend down to hug him as he chatters on about his exciting thoughts today as only a five-year old can do.  I am no longer angry.  Love and pride floods my heart.  He has a vivid imagination, like his Grandma and surely will carry on the writing tradition.

Fortunately I remembered to save my work for the day.  I look at the clock – is it time to continue my watering in the drought-filled, sunny days we are experiencing?  I look at my scraggly, brown grass.

“Maybe you can help me bake some cookies?”  I smile and take Murphy’s hand instead.