writing, it is sometimes unreasonable

May 5, 2009 § 19 Comments

Sometimes I miss those writing days  at the newspaper when I sat at my desk and had to write 300 words in an hour and hand it in. I just sat there and wrote, ignoring the ringing phone, the chatter in the writing room, the sales reps keening and worrying about their clients. I sat there writing ignoring  the smudges on the PC screen, the clock, someone’s request for a tissue, someone taking coffee and muffin orders.  I  traveled out and out  and out there to a writing place, found it, hunkered down and wrote. 

That ability to concentrate and drill through a piece is not working tonight. Besides, truth be told, I prefer to think through my writing now more than ever, am less impressed with a trendy phrase that works in advertorial writing, am more inclined to write, puzzle, unpiece, piece back together, try again, rework.

Now I am distracted by the conversation around me, by the baseball video game! (the boys are playing), by the needy little beagle who is taking full advantage of being in the doggie spotlight these days, by the sounds of summer coming through the open window, by the angle of the laptop which I can’t …get…just…right, by the shine of the foil on the Hershey kisses.

Yes, I have my rough draft finished. It’s been finished for 24 hours. It’s still very rough. It’s ungodly rough and 1,000 words too long. It’s a book review. Oh, snap -what’s the big deal, you say. Well, you must work very carefully, writing only things you really mean to say in a review, no bumping, no stalling, no making things up because this is not your work – this is about someone else’s work. And as a writer, you know the blood and dirt and dreams he or she used and removed to create the piece, the book. 

This evening, I have employed any number of procrastinatory methods, from taking a short walk  to chatting with my neighbor to cleaning a spot on the rug to contemplating the need for a manicure…to writing this blog entry.

I’ll change my spot in the room. This wing chair, very tall and wide and rendering me invisible if you’re approaching from behind, is cushioned with two favorite green pillows. I sit here, opposite HM on many a night, talking or watching TV or rattling magazine pages or scribbling or dreaming.Yes, I must be in the wrong spot in this room for finishing this piece. I should know better.

That’s it. Thanks for listening. I’m going to finish this now so that there can be 10 o’clock TV ,and time with HM.
And tomorrow I won’t mind getting up early to see if the piece has any weight at all because it will be almost if not completely finished, and after all, writing should have weight, should be comely and fat, and rich.

And I feel really weird about having no picture to post with this.  But you get the picture, right?

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§ 19 Responses to writing, it is sometimes unreasonable

  • Snarl says:

    I was playing my video game and dad — as per usual — was narrating my achievements or asking questions.

    But seriously, reviews are harder than news and feature pieces. Happy writing.

    • oh says:

      I know, and he was talking and exuberant and glad to have you home for a few hours and me, too, but you could never tell cuz I kept looking at you guys like “ssssshhh” and yeah, I could have left the room but didn’t want to be elsewhere…ah, the crazed reasoning of a writer on deadline! thanks for the good wishes there…it worked out…I stayed up laaaaaate into the quiet and got it done.

  • shoreacres says:

    OK – I understand the irony of bringing along another distraction, but here is a link to a terrific essay by Paul Graham of “Hackers and Painters”. I keep it close at hand, and re-read it about every couple of weeks.

    The first sentence paragraphs are – um – relevant.

    “Procrastination feeds on distractions. Most people find it uncomfortable just to sit and do nothing; you avoid work by doing something else.

    So one way to beat procrastination is to starve it of distractions. But that’s not as straightforward as it sounds, because there are people working hard to distract you. Distraction is not a static obstacle that you avoid like you might avoid a rock in the road. Distraction seeks you out…”

    And on it goes. You can find the entire essay here:
    http://www.paulgraham.com/distraction.html

    • anno says:

      Thanks for the link to Graham’s essay — this is wonderful!

    • oh says:

      It does! It does! Distraction seeks you out. A fine essay – thanks for linking it here and yes, it made me smile,too, to read your note but I waited ’til I was DONE with my writing and Blogworld was my treat!

  • ds says:

    “Blood and dirt and dreams.” Uh-huh. Like Churchill’s “blood and toil, sweat and tears.” You found some beauty amid the distractions; the picture is very clear. And yes, it does have weight.

    • oh says:

      Geez, you’re right. Churchill’s line !!!!! And just how did that guy say so many excellent things, anyway?! I have a magnet on my fridge that says “When going through Hell, keep going.” Also, Churchill’s.
      And thank you, ds, for your comments. It was a treat to check in today. The time, the hour, the minutes just after writing are euphoric.

      • ds says:

        No, your line. Unquestionably. Slight wave of the hand to Mr. Churchill, that’s all–it was meant as a compliment–he was pretty gifted in that way, too.
        Love the fridge magnet! Glad you finished your project, earned the euphoria, and the time to do what YOU want with it.

  • laylou says:

    i don’t know how you do it. i can’t write unless i’m feeling creative, which for the record as of late i’m totally NOT. Kind of want to throw my blog out the window. Keep all of my friends but throw the blog out. Or suddenly feel inspired.

    • oh says:

      I think we all go in spurts, Laylou. And if you’re working on some other project, it’s tough to translate your life on your blog. So, give it time. Every will wait – your entries are worth waiting for!

  • shoreacres says:

    I’m grinning from ear to ear. Love to watch the editing process 😉

    • oh says:

      And I love LOOKING BACK on the editing process! And feeling relieved that that piece got done. So true about writing “short.” It’s much harder than writing “long.”
      I need to see how to insert those little emoticons and things.

  • anno says:

    This sounds so familiar, so true. Hope you got that 10 pm time with HM. (And I, too, loved watching this piece evolve: pulled it up from my Reader this morning and then became ensnared by all the routines of daily life; just now refreshed it and found that you, too, had found it anew. Lovely!)

    • oh says:

      Hi, Anno – Yes, I finished late (well past 10) but we were both wide awake (rare on a week night)…so tonight, I get to read – yay!!!

  • jeanie says:

    No picture required; the image is clear! I loved this line: “And as a writer, you know the blood and dirt and dreams he or she used and removed to create the piece, the book.”

    If I ever write a book, I hope someone so compassionate as you is the reviewer. Because, my friend, you understand. Oh, you understand.

    Check your mail in about three days, I suppose!

    • oh says:

      Thanks, Jeanie, for your lovely commnents! I have no idea if the review I wrote even said anything; funny how certain pieces can give you a tough time.
      To celebrate not having to “work” tonight, I mowed the lawn!

  • Carrie says:

    I’m ‘write’ there with you! 🙂

  • Becca says:

    This all makes such good sense, and you surely have watched me go about the writing process with all my little procrastinating tactics. Thanks for sharing your process!

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