Sharpen Your Knives

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

We had some snow here in NJ. My area got hit with about a foot. Maybe eight inches. I didn’t check and I didn’t bring out my ruler. I will tell you however much it was the shoveling wore me out. I tried to focus on the blessings like I’m healthy enough to shovel and I live in a house as opposed to a cardboard box. It’s the first snow storm in March since 1993. 

All that snow means the school closes. Two teens home. And the Coffee King certainly can’t drive to work and we share an office at home. Let’s not forget the noodgy dog. So, trying to get writing done with many distractions isn’t easy.

I’ve blogged about this before, but after about fifteen interruptions and it wasn’t even lunch time I had to take matters into my hands. I had to carve out some time to write.

First, I texted my good friend and writer buddy K.M Fawcett. (Her books are awesome. Check her out.) K.M. and I go to a local Starbucks at least twice a week for uninterrupted writing time. My text said something like, “I CAN’T GET ANY WRITING DONE.” It’s hard to get your mojo going every time someone sidetracks you. She gave me some good advice. Set a timer. Tell the characters in your house no interruptions while the timer is on.

Then I remembered! My red hat!!!  It had been years since I needed that hat. When the Noodges were little and I would try to write they’d interrupt me constantly. My desk was out in the open so I couldn’t shut a door. I instituted the red hat. When I wore the hat they weren’t allowed to talk to me. Unless blood or vomit was involved. I promised to always give them warning before I wore the hat and they could ask me as many questions as they wanted before the hat went on which was very important to Noodge 1. He can’t wait to have his questions answered. He’s still like that at almost seventeen. (I can’t believe that same little boy is almost 17!)

Yesterday, the hat made a revival. I took a picture of myself wearing the hat, and sent it to my family scattered around the house with instructions. I’d wear the hat with a timer going for 20 minutes. Please don’t interrupt me unless blood is involved. (They’re big enough to throw up in a toilet now.) It works.

Finding time to write isn’t easy. We all have lives that work around our writing. Unless you’re Stephen King whose writing can work around his life. Our families don’t always understand that we’re actually working even if all we’re doing is staring at the computer, but our hands aren’t moving. Every time our train of thought gets broken we have to start over and hope to capture the fizzle we’re trying so hard to get on the page. Writing isn’t like doing accounting or sewing.

I don’t blame them for not understanding. In fact, I’m a culprit in the interruptions. I often stop what I’m doing, no matter what it is, to help my kids or walk the dog or talk to CK. The hat creates a nice visual. (I just got interrupted while writing this. I’m not wearing the hat and Noodge 1 can’t find his sweatpants. See?)

The timer is good because they know how long you won’t be available. And anything can wait twenty minutes, can’t it?

Knives are sharpened. The hat is on now. The timer is next. It’s another snow day and plenty of writing to do.

Any questions?

 

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Stop Asking

My curiosity is often mistaken for interest in a subject. Does this happen to you? Let me explain. I worked with a man who practiced the religion of Jehovah’s Witness. Having been raised Roman Catholic I didn’t know anything about his religion so I asked questions. He mistook my curiosity for the desire to become one of his kind. Not for me. No offense to anyone who is. Everyone has to walk their own path, if you get what I mean.
 
Some years later a woman selling Mary Kay cosmetics thought my questions meant I wanted to sell the makeup. NO. Again, no offense implied, but you don’t want me selling you makeup. I can barely get mascara on.  
 
 
The other night I was at a Pampered Chef party. When it was time to check out the saleswoman says, “you were very attentive. Are you interested doing what I do?” I politely told her no, I am an author, I have a gig. What I wanted to say was please don’t mistake my level of politeness (most of the other women were talking amogst themselves half the time) for interest in selling cooking products. I don’t even like to cook! 
 
 
 
What am I? Arnold Horseshack? And if you don’t know who that is I suggest you go look him up. 
 
I think it’s time to stop asking questions. It might be better to keep my head down and my mouth shut. Fly under the radar as they say. If I’m not careful someone might try and recruit me for their satanic cult, because you know I’m going to ask a ton of questions about that! 
 
Or is it nothing more than someone loving their cause so much they think everyone else will too. (The everyone being me, here.) This thought process makes me think of parents who believe everyone loves their little darlings as much as they do. What does Stephen King say about our little darlings? Just asking. 
 
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A Place of My Own

It was Virginia Woolf who said, a woman should have a place of her own to write fiction in. I have several places I try to write in, but none my own. Read on.

I have two offices. One in my house that I share with my husband and the other one is my car. I spend as much time there as I do at home. I’m a taxi driver of sorts. I have two children. Need I say more? Since I’m Italian, I’m short. That means I have to sit close to the steering wheel to reach the pedals. Have you ever tried typing with your elbows under your arm pits? It’s like I’m tyrannosaurus author.

I’m not sure my office at home is much better. I have more arm room, thankfully, and a desk to spread out on, but I don’t like sharing the space when my husband is working at home. He gets on the phone and uses the speaker! Hello, sitting right next to you. Creative juices warming up here. I shove earbuds in, turn up the Pandora, and guess what? I can still hear him. And worse, the person he’s talking to. Sometimes its a conference call! I mean, really?

I’ve gone into the kitchen where it’s quieter, but instantly I’m loading the dishwasher. You should see me in action. I rearrange juice glasses like nobody’s business. I amaze myself. Who knew there was a talent in putting flatware into those little slots? You need your master’s degree to figure out the forks should go in tongs down as not to get caught on the bottom rack when it rolls out. Loading the dishwasher is an art form. 

Okay, I’ve ruled out three writing spaces so far. If the temperature is above 75 degrees, I can go outside, but I don’t live in Florida so that rules out most of the months of the year. I certainly can’t write in the bathroom. I know Stephen King locked himself in the bathroom to write when he first started out, but I’ll just want to clean. No windows in the basement. Another place off the list. What space is left? 

 

The kids’ bedrooms? I think not. My bedroom? Can you say, “nap?” Plus I share the bedroom. You see what’s happening here?

No place of my own. 

 

My children claim any room I’m in. Even while I’m writing this one of my children is trying to tell me something. I think I heard the words, “the book I read.” I’ll admit I’m trying to pretend I can’t hear. I think that’s a trick my mother still uses.

I wouldn’t know what to do with a place of my own. No socks on the floor, dishes in the sink, the sound of quiet echoing through the halls. You know, now that I think about it, do I even want a place of my own? 

Not on your life.