Monday, May 30, 2016

Overwhelmed by the Real World

A week ago, I came home from the Pennwriters Conference with new ideas and new determination. Monday was great; I went on a blog binge, got caught up on posts I owed and even got ahead of schedule, writing posts for later in the week. We'd cleared the prom hurdle, so there were no more dresses to buy, accessories to shop for or boutonnieres to order.

Tuesday, I dug into the graduation announcements that needed to be addressed and mailed, thinking I'd get a sprint in afterward. Said sprint never materialized, and suddenly, it was time to clear the graduation hurdle itself. By Friday, the day I usually begin to rally, my daughter was packing for senior week and heading on her first long-distance trip without adult supervision. Friday afternoon, all I could do was crash.

Emotionally, I'm fine, and no, I'm not in denial. Daughter has duly graduated and arrived at her intended destination. The house is quiet and my husband is working on his own projects, and yet I have had to exile myself to Starbucks to get this blog written. The graduation party, the next hurdle to clear, is this weekend, and although things are well in hand, new ideas and to-do list items follow me around, pecking at me like a flock of haphazard hens. Saturday's sprint, which I thought was the turning point, is merely a memory and structured procrastination reigns supreme.

I have got to get a grip.

No matter how often they happen -- and how frequently they regulate themselves with little intervention from me -- these temporary setbacks freak me out. If it's a blog-posting day and I haven't posted by a certain time, I become physically incapable of sitting still and a sense of agitation overtakes me. If too many days go by without a sprint or at least sufficient progress on a project, dread looms in the back of my mind. Writing is the only antidote.

This love-hate relationship with the written word is not unique to me; in fact, I know few writers who are not afflicted with it. It's what drives us forward, sends fingers flying across the keyboard, or a pen scritching across paper, desperately seeking solace from the fear of the story lying idle, or the page remaining blank. Proms, graduations, parties, milestones -- all are celebrated and enjoyed within the time frame allotted for them. Transitions into them and out of them are given short shrift, however; we cut ourselves little slack, not counting time as regular people do, or acknowledging that these milestones may need a wider berth in order to account for their impact on our creative energies. Like actors or dancers or vocalists, our minds and bodies are tools of the trade, and it's easy to resent the toll the real world can take on them.

But now I am at Starbucks at my laptop -- in my happy place, where distractions are minimized and writing progress is compromised only by the mental distractions from which I cannot escape. That's okay, though. Soon, I'll be in the world of my characters, and, if I'm lucky, they'll pull me under so deep that only ideas can flood my mind, and, when I surface, I'll be ready to rejoin the real world, satisfied that my work here is done.

For today.


  1. Lisa, I hope the trip to Starbucks is the cure. If not, tomorrow is another day.

  2. Yes, indeed! Halfway through today's sprint. Took a break between projects. 24 minutes to go :-)