So tonight I’m sitting here with a laptop waiting for my daughter to finish her piano class. And this man asks me what I’m working on.
“You’re not writing a novel, are you?” he says with a laugh.
And stupidly, oh so stupidly, I tell him that, yes, in fact, I am.
And of course, that was the end of my writing session. He took this as his cue to regale me with his own failed attempts at writing, and what conspired against him, and before the 45-minute lesson was up, I had learned about his ex-wife (unsupportive), his current wife (needy), and his three grown children (ingrates). Not that I didn’t find it all interesting, and the man perfectly pleasant. I did. But I will now have to sit in my car to write for the next six weeks of piano lessons unless I grow a backbone between now and then and find a polite way to tell him to, eh, leave me alone, thank you, please.
And that won’t happen. Because not only am I a wimp but, I have to admit, I didn’t fight all that hard to return to my writing anyway. Because isn’t it much less work to have a conversation with a stranger, even a TMI one, than to write This Damn Book? (By the way, I have decided to call this novel TDB forevermore.)
I often think about Harry Crews’s famous quote:
“If you wait until you got time to write a novel, or time to write a story, or time to read the hundred thousands of books you should have already read—if you wait for the time, you will never do it. ‘Cause there ain’t no time; world don’t want you to do that. World wants you to go to the zoo and eat cotton candy, preferably seven days a week.”
There used to be a writing group near me called “Vacuuming the Cat,” so named because a writer will think up nearly any excuse not to write, even sucking the wayward fur off a feline with a Hoover.
So given these examples, I assume I’m not alone in my willful distractedness. It’s hard not to let the disruptions in, even harder to return again and again to that little world you’ve created and make it shine, and breathe, and say something worthwhile.
But I’ll keep at it. To hell with cotton candy and cats. Let’s just tuck in, my friends, and endure, and get this done.
5 thoughts on “Unwelcome Distractions”
So true. And it’s not that we don’t enjoy engaging, right? It’s that we enjoy it too much!
I’ve had the same conversations.
“What are you working on?”
“My great novel.”
Then often follow genuine questions, and, as you’ve pointed out, the loss of time. Most people are nice, and act as if my book will be on the shelf tomorrow. I have no heart to tell them it’ll be a long time before that happens, and now it will be longer because they just sapped away fifteen minutes of writing time.
Reblogged this on X Twain and commented:
It can be a thin line between a writer and a would-be writer.
Thanks to X Twain for reposting this piece! We really appreciate the support.
I filled my teenage world with writing because I couldn’t understand the real world. Back then, I hide in fantasy. And it worked. Before I knew it I’d graduated from High School. Sadly, I never finished any of those manuscripts. And I don’t know where they are now. My adult world is full of real things that I want to hold on to — like my husband. But I still love to live in the world my fertile mind creates. Words. That’s what I struggle with.