Thursday, July 7, 2011

Things that Stall Me

Since school has been out for fifteen days, I thought it might be time to blog about some things that slow me down, which right about now, feels like everything. Here's a short list of the biggies:

Having the kids home from school. I spend a lot of the summertime driving, and a lot of time either waking someone up, or begging someone to go to bed. See Go The Fuck to Sleep, but with my own appendix for the teenage years, Wake the Fuck Up.

Sleeping. A while ago, Julianna Baggott blogged about how she finds the time to write and when she sleeps. I sleep too much. If I got up earlier, maybe I would have more time to write. But, unlike the highly romantic practices of writers who either get up in the early dark to write as the sun rises, or stay up and write all night, I appear to be a boring ass Mid-Day Writer. Such is the work of people with children in school. (See Number 1.)

Having a clean house. I fear sometimes that this is the thing that makes me not an artist. I am uncomfortable and anxious when the house is messy -- this includes dishes, laundry, dust, clutter and random shoes. This sometimes earns me exclamations from other writers: You're such a housewife! Sometimes, though, I think I could work better if the house was just clean. So on those days, I clean. It's a meditative practice for me, so in that way, at least, it works.

Surfing for music. I like a little non-distracting music sometimes while I'm writing. I'm not writing to the big indie bands that some of my colleagues are: The National, The Hold Steady, or Bon Iver. I don't have a Metallica kick like Steven King. I will admit this: I wrote a good deal of the early pages to this novel while listening to piano etudes by Philip Glass. They're clean and precise and grab you by the gut. Anything with words distracts me. So when I need to waste some more time, I sit here with the Roku remote going through a list of things that "aren't right."

Drinking. In that same post Julianna Baggott talks about how once she's had a drink it signals to her brain that the day is over. Once in a while, I can write a bit in the evening while having one glass of wine, but beyond that, I'm no good. After two drinks, I wouldn't trust my writing not to be sloppy. After three or four, I'm probably trying to kiss you. Or sing karaoke Eagles songs.

Facebook. Everyone's Achilles' Heel, right? Where else would I keep up with who's getting divorced, who's publishing seventeen pieces of micro-fiction, or look at pictures of people's dogs, babies and vacations?

Twitter. Where I need to keep track, at the very least, of what Amanda Palmer and John Taylor are up to. And the Dalai Lama. I know, weird.

Phone calls. I shouldn't answer them, or return them right away, but I do. And then sometimes, I spend hours on the phone. So much so that my younger son has taken to writing me notes: "How's it going on the phone?"

This morning, I got up at 10. My excuse? Kids were on a soda raid at 3:15 am, then home at 6:30 am from an all-nighter. Dear friends with babies and toddlers: IT GETS WORSE. Next week, we're well into week three of summer. I'm going to try -- as my mother-in-law says -- to get my shit together. Otherwise, somebody's gonna come undone.

1 comment:

  1. All of these things are true. I don't have teenagers, but I have two cats who like to make horrifying noises from 3:00 to 5:00 a.m. I like to write early in the morning, but not when I've been up trying to find what the hell is making one cat scratch at the closet door while the other cat chases her tail and screams.

    Making food is also a stumbling block for me. Since I have a CSA share, I feel compelled to actually do things like find a way to make kale edible. And then I feel like I should really be writing. Something is wrong when I feel guilty about stopping to make lunch.