Saturday, April 10, 2010

It Came From The Fictional Side


I have recently been attacked by novel, (they lurk in dark places and jump out on me when I least expect them. While walking. Ironing. Innocently doing dishes, once or twice in the type of situation where they SHOULDN'T) and I’m feeling the consequences. Things I had planned to do, that I had lots of time to do, now highjack me out of the blue.

Take today for instance – please! – I sat down to work on the novel and realized I had to take the cat to the vet and had a short window if I wanted my son Robert to go with me. Not that Robert is much help, mind. The poor thing has inherited my sense of direction. Which means every time we go somewhere together it’s an adventure. Indiana Jones type adventure. Only instead of dodging Nazis and reading Latin or Greek (that would be easy!) we’re dodging weird drivers (WHY do they love the blind spot, anyway?) and trying to figure out why the GPS wants us to do a U turn in the MIDDLE of the highway.

This, however, is easier than when I go alone. Because when I go alone the combination of no sense of direction and TOTAL lack of visual memory hits. I end up on a side street having a panic attack because not only do I have no idea how to get wherever I was going, but I know I’ll never ever ever get back home.

So I had a limited amount of time to go out. Meanwhile, my younger son having called to ask for money for a field trip next Saturday (to see Othello, in Denver) I had to stop by the ATM – which was fine. For emergencies, I – of course – put the phone in my purse, after charging it.

So far so good, right? Except that I got to the ATM and couldn’t remember my – newish – code. So I reached in purse for my phone, because my husband might know it. And the phone wasn’t there. Right...

Get to vet. Drop off cat, ask to use phone. And realize I don’t know husband’s (newish) phone number at work. No problem. I’ll call his cell phone. Only the only cell number I can remember is my younger son’s who isn’t answering because he is in class. Finally Robert remembers cell phone number. I call. A puzzled husband gives me code.

Get money from ATM. Come home with son who by then needed to go to college. Come to my office to put money in envelope for younger son. Have message from CoffeeTimeRomance and More asking if I was doing the blog after all. Look at date. Yipes. How did it get to be the ninth? Oh, yeah. Was writing.

Phone, BTW, still plugged in, on desk.

Get blog in, tell lady I’ll be gone for an hour. Run to school. While there remember was supposed to get a form this week. Well, it’s still this week, right? Try to remember name of form. Inexplicably gone from head. End up playing charades with TWO counselors before they figure it out. I can tell they think I’m a lunatic. I can’t say “sorry, it’s this novel. I remember all their names and what they had for breakfast ten years ago. I just don’t remember my own middle name.”

Get form. Come home. Organize husband picking up cat from vet. Try to work. Realize about to miss date for return of interview questions to another site. Return interview questions. Try to work. Oh no, time to make dinner...

The above would not be nearly so frantic if the novel didn’t fill up my mind and push out anything unrelated to it, including deadlines, routines, food, and bathroom breaks. Because it behaves this way, though, writing a novel is a succession of crisis I try to ignore long enough to write.

How is it for you? And how do you cope with it? And does anyone have any idea where I left my brains?

14 comments:

matapam said...

The number of times I was late picking my younger son up from after school band practice . . . You have my sympathy. Other people don't understand the time warp that writing throws you into.

The last time it happened, I set a high word count to accomplish every day - 5000 - and that seemed to satisfy the Beast. That was the fastest first draft evah.

All day distractions are frustrating, all around. Anything you can reschedule for a couple of weeks is probably a good idea.

Jim McCoy said...

This type of thing drives me batty, especially this time of the semester. See, I work full time, I got to school full time and I have my four year old daughter while my wife is at work. So I'll be right in the middle of something, say writing a paper for school, and one of my characters decides that he/she/it wants to have a conversation. Apparently they feel slghted sometimes because I'm too busy writing school stuff to write about them...

Unfortunately for me, this often happens WHILE I'M SITTING in front of a keyboard. Then writing takes over, but I don't have time to write because I have to write. I realize that makes no sense, but it's true. (Image of telling my history professor that I didn't finish my paper on time...because I was writing a post-apocalyptic thriller or a fantasy story) I really need to find a decent solution to that problem. (IE How to keep the one kind of writing from interfering with the other) Fortunately though, the semester will be over in less than two weeks and I can stop writing for school so that I can write for me (and hopefully some lucky editor out there who will buy my stuff...IF I ever get it done.)

So I'm right there with you Sarah, and if you ever do find a solution make sure you let me know.

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

Sometimes when I make a mistake or forget something, my wife will say, "Where is your mind?" And I'll have to answer, "In a rainy back alley discovering another murdered mage" or "On a ship traveling between Xi Bootis B and 12 Ophiuchi" or something to that effect.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Marshall, my husband says he knows the 'look' I get when my head is in my book.

Sarah, this is so true. How can we be expected to remember trivial things like new phone numbers when we are holding the whole back story and plot of a, as yet, unwritten book together in our heads?

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Pam,

One time my older son thought I had abandonned him to social services. I was TWO HOURS late picking him up from work.

What I really would like is to go away to a hotel for a week or two. THAT works wonders for me. But, as readers of MGC have probably figured, we writers aren't swimming in dough...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Jim,

I have the problem both ways. When I absolutely have to write a book -- usually a year after I did the proposal -- and the characters just remain mute cyphers. And when I'm doing something else, minding my own business and an entire novel unwinds into my head. Yeah. Drives me nuts, too.

Kate said...

Oy. This is so my life. Is it any wonder I can only write in itty snippets stolen from something else?

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Marshall,

SO true. I loved the line from the star trek movie -- "I was born in Iowa. I only work in outer space." Because that's what it feels like. Except I wasn't born in Iowa. Well, apparently neither was Kirk. Um...

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Rowena,

YES. It's like a focus shift. And it's particularly annoying because I know the information is in my head SOMEWHERE, I just can't find it.

Stephen Simmons said...

Sarah,

First, I met Mike Kobongo at RavenCon today, and he said many wonderful things about both you and Dave. :)

As for the post - this is why Outlook has those calendar and task list functions. I learned to use them, religiously, for everything, no matter how trivial or simple they seemed. (Including my own birthday. I'm not kidding.)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Stephen said:

As for the post - this is why Outlook has those calendar and task list functions. I learned to use them, religiously, for everything, no matter how trivial or simple they seemed. (Including my own birthday. I'm not kidding.)

Stephen, I once forgot how old I was. I simply couldn't remember. It was like the connection had been locked in a cupboard and I couldn't find the key. I knew I should know the answer. Then it came back.

Talk about absent minded!

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Sarah. At least you are entertained as you go about through the chaos:) While you are doing that U-turn you can be off on planet Zeebub. Who cares if you get a bit lost?

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Stephen,

I'm a failure at most software. I treat the computer as a glorified typewriter. It's sad.

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

Chris,

Entertaining? Is THAT what they call it?