Writing a Book: Life's Distractions and Other Excuses

Here’s how I have always written, even in my pre-computer life. Rough draft: Just keep writing and get everything down. Final draft: Polish and revise rough draft, adding brilliant insights and correcting spelling errors. The concept of multiple revisions and deleting the paragraph I love because it doesn’t fit is totally foreign to me. Also, the constant distractions and interruptions are something new. Or are there my way of escaping the fourth or fifth revision? Did I ever tell you I belong to the 95% club? Once I get to that point with anything I am doing, I have to battle my inclination to stop and find something else that requires my attention. That last 5% has always been my Achilles Heel. Probably not the best work ethic for writing a book. For better or for worse, here are the next few days from my version of Bridget Jones’s Diary for a senior trying to write a book.

Cartoon by Marcia Liss

Cartoon by Marcia Liss

Day 6 – June 16: Writing time = 3 hours

After meeting with my writing coach yesterday, I had a whole new idea of how to organize my book, so now I could really dig in. Or maybe not. At my computer early this morning, I struggled to recall what had seemed like brilliant insights just yesterday. Why didn’t I take better notes? Well, I decided to plunge in and continue writing about the loss of my parents, but now these essays will end up in different boxes – Letting Go, Belonging, Advocating, Evolving, Loving. At least I think that’s the new plan. Thankfully, at 8:00 I leave to meet my friend Marcia. Like me, she’s a woman of my generation who retired and decided to post her creations on a blog. In her case, she draws awesome cartoons. So we talk about our mythical books and why it is not totally vanity and fantasy that makes us think what we are doing now is important enough to be published. We decide our efforts are important and worthy and vow to go back to our computers. But first, she has to get her tires rotated and I have to call my daughter to go over my post-camp babysitting assignment for today. Then I need to find my notes for my volunteer assignment to help redo the website for the preschool from which I retired in the first place. Of course, I have to take the friend I am collaborating with on this assignment out to a birthday lunch first. So actually, I have about an hour left to write for today. And I am writing this because I have come down with writer’s block. Or maybe it’s just confusion. Things are not fitting so neatly into my boxes. OMG, spell check just told me the “it’s” two sentences back should be “its.” Now I can’t even trust spell check. The old English teacher in me wants to write a blog post.

Day 7 – June 17: Writing time = 2 hours

Perfect excuse for non-productivity – I am sick. As soon as the food arrived for my friend’s birthday lunch, I realized my grandkids had shared their lovely stomach virus with me. What could be worse than being sickened by the smell of the lovely turkey sandwich I had ordered? Cross that food choice off my list forever. I bagged out on my volunteer assignment to help with the preschool website and crawled back home to wallow in my misery. I’m somewhat better but now in a very negative place. This book-writing idea is insane. And yet, the compliant student in me pushes me to finish the assignment. I just have to move out of the category entitled “letting go” and find something that makes me smile. It just may have to be what I am tentatively called “evolving.” This is where I intend to put my rants about my love/hate affair with technology. Yes, I think I can do that while feeling somewhat nauseated.

Day 8 – June 18: Writing time = 1 hour

Today’s distraction – a negative comment on my last post popped up on my Facebook feed. This was not a troll, simply someone who strongly disagreed with what I had written. I am immediately overcome by indecision about whether to respond and what to say. Maybe she has a point. Maybe I was wrong. In the end, after too much time spent agonizing, I decide to do…nothing. It makes me feel modern. Isn’t it permissible these days to ignore all forms of communication? I can always tell myself I lost the email. So back to that book. I’ve decided this reorganizing project is not much fun. My categories are too profound. Letting Go, loving belonging, evolving, advocating. I need a box to hold my lighter observations about life. I’ve got it – “looking at life through my lens.” Too long. Need a single word for that. Oops, time’s up for now. Too many hours later, I am back from meeting with Jimmy Greenfield from ChicagoNow about my blog. Turns out I should not ignore comments. Now feel badly about not replying to woman who disagreed with me. Will do that and then pay bills, balance checkbook, and get a manicure. Maybe get back to the book later? Some new boxes just flashed into my mind: Balancing, Juggling, Maintaining (as in my weekly manicure maintenance)? How about Procrastinating?

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