Thursday, May 19, 2011

Peace & Quiet: O-ver-ra-ted (clap, clap, clap, clap, clap)

"If I'm writing and the house catches fire, call the fire department. But leave me alone." That was the rule around my house back in the olden days. My wife, for the most part, respected my need for solitude during marathon writing sessions in the computer room. I needed peace and quiet, no distractions, so I could focus on creating.

Alone with my thoughts, I produced zero finished full-length manuscripts and added at least 100 documents to my computer's Incomplete & Abandoned folder. I wasted a lot of years of my writing life consumed by self-doubt, afraid to male a mistake, and worrying about how each word would be received by editors and readers and critics. Alone with my thoughts, I was my own worst enemy.

I tried everything to break out of my funk. I read books on writing. I listened to the Writing Excuses podcast. I journaled. I wrote fiction and non-fiction, poetry, short stories and screenplays. I wrote in the morning and at night. I wrote using Word and writing software and longhand. I replaced computer desks and notebooks and everything else I could blame for my writing woes. Nothing could help me work through it.

Then my son came along and rescued me from peace and quiet. The interruptions and distractions that were once a sin in my house have become commonplace:

"Dad-dee...can I play the Star Wars game on the computer?"

"Dad-dee...I'm thirsty."

"Um, Dad-dee...when I'm a parent, I don't think I'll want to drive a car."

My wife joins in:

"I'm making tacos next week. Would you rather have beef or chicken?"

I wonder if Elmore Leonard's wife has ever interrupted him during sacred Writing Time to ask him "beef of chicken?"

But to my surprise, the distractions and interruptions have actually been refreshing. They keep my mind from wandering to self-doubt and other thoughts that quickly become barriers to my writing productivity.

I'm also becoming less interested in solitude. These days I'm more comfortable writing from my living-room chair than at one of the desks in my writing den.

My writing self from eight years ago wouldn't even recognize me.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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