SANDRA CAREY CODY: ON AVOIDANCE
Writers are supposed to love writing. We do, but . . . Why am I saying “we”? I can only speak for myself. So, here goes . . .
It’s almost noon and I’m working on Chapter 11 of a new Jennie Connors novel. I have an outline of the book. The beginning is written. I know how it will end and some pretty good ideas for the middle. I have a clear picture of what is supposed to happen in this chapter and a goal for how the chapter will advance the plot. It should be a piece of cake to get this done. So far I’ve written 409 words and have introduced a new character. A good start, but a far cry from where I need to be. What’s holding me back? Well, time, of course. There are so many demands on a writer’s time. In addition to the writing, I’ve checked email seven times, twice taken time out for a cup of tea, made four phone calls (three of them were actually necessary), read an article in Audubon about the blue-footed ferret (fascinating creature, wonder if I could work one into the story). I’ve changed my mind about what to have for dinner once (so far). OK-enough. I’m sure you get the picture.
Why do I do this to myself? I ask myself that every day. Maybe I’m not meant to be a writer. I consider that possibility every day too. But what will happen to the voices in my head if I don’t put them on paper. Who will tell their story if I don’t? Does anyone care? I do! So– Back to Chapter 11. It should be easy to write; the new character is a harried young mother with three little girls, all under age five. The kids are part of the scene, so there’s going to be a lot of motion, the possibility of gentle humor. The little family is poised to receive bad news, so there’s a natural tension and–
Wait! The clock is chiming. One, two, three . . . twelve. Lunch time. No wonder I can’t write. I need nourishment.
I’m back. It’s 12:20. Time to stop fooling around and get to work on Chapter 11. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I’m back. It’s almost 11:30 p.m. What happened in the eleven-hour interim? I spent a little over three hours on Chapter 11 before I went out to check the mail. Not much mail, but the kids across the street had a lemonade stand. Of course I had to support their effort. While I was out there, drinking lemonade and admiring the five-year-old’s new sandals, a former neighbor drove by. She stopped; we chatted and promised to keep in touch. I’m not sure how much time that stroll to the mailbox took out of my day. Too much. Even so, I managed to complete Chapter 11 before dinner. After dinner, kitchen clean-up, some quality time with my dear and (mostly) patient spouse, I came back and got a good start on Chapter 12 before I stopped to finish the library book that’s due tomorrow (Rhys Bowen’s Oh Danny Boy – and, yes, I would recommend it).
All in all, a good day–a little writing, a little reading, an old friend, some young friends, tea, lemonade, meals–the minutiae that gives texture to a life, whether real or imagined.