Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Do Not Disturb

I love my work life.  I am beyond fortunate in that I get to make up stories for a living.  I get to sit at home in my jammies, drink coffee by the gallon, and take leisurely meals.  I have no right to complain.

So you know what comes next.  A complaint.

When people ask me how I’m doing, I often like to say, “I can’t complain, but I do it anyway to stay in practice.”  Welcome to a practice session.

Being at home means few think I’m working a real job.  Because I don’t jump into my car and drive to an office as soon as I’ve got the kid on the bus, I’m not perceived as really engaged in a meaningful endeavor.  I’m at home and therefore at liberty to chat on the phone, goof off on Facebook, or shmooze at the dining room table over coffee.  At least, that’s what everyone thinks.

Here’s the scoop:  I am working.  I am working very hard.  I spend five days a week fielding issues with book distributors, answering fan mail, marketing and promoting, and ... *gasp* ... even writing the books that pay my mortgage.  I’ve got deadlines just like many other people who commute to their workplaces.  I’ve been known to put in a 12-hour day to get everything done.  Add to that fact that I juggle two writing careers as two different authors, try to keep a path or two clear to move about in my house without tripping and breaking my neck, and play the part of Mommy to a busy seven-year-old.   

Yes, I am working. 

Yet I have to contend with those who think dropping by and interrupting is no big deal.  “Oh hi!  I was in the neighborhood.  Let me tell you all about the latest.”  Or the phone ringing.  “Hey, I know you’re writing, but I just had to talk to you about the show I watched on TV.  Did you see what happened on Dancing With the Stars last night?”

Sigh.  No matter how many times I tell people I can’t be interrupted, they interrupt anyway.   

Imagine this:  I’m writing really well, completely in the zone where I can see the scenario I’m working on in all its vivid detail.  I’ve got the perfect word, phrase, or sentence that is going to portray this scene to the reader...it’s a thing of beauty.  Nothing else will ever fit what I’m trying to get across as wondrously as this word/phrase/sentence.  Fingers are poised over the keyboard, ready to tap that extraordinary passage ... and then... 

“Hi!  Sorry I’m interrupting, but this will only take a second.” 

The word/phrase/sentence that I’d held so tenderly in my mind, ready to birth onto the page, as ephemeral as a midnight dream – it disappears.  I’m jolted out of my little world, never to find that tiny mote of perfection ever again. 

At those times I feel like Jack Nicholson in ‘The Shining’ when Shelley Duval interrupts his writing and he completely loses it on her.  Oh yeah, it’s a good thing I don’t own an axe at that moment.  I could commit mayhem in finely arcing splashes of gore.  I really could. 

To those of you who have an artist, writer, musician, or other creative beast in your life ... or even someone who simply works in the home ... have a heart.  Yes, we love you.  We love you with all our beings.  You are more important to us than anything, truly you are.  Whatever it is you’re dying to share is important to us too.  But please understand we really are working.  I’m not showing up at your job in the middle of the day, interrupting your work.  All I ask is the same respect in return.   

Please, for all our sakes and to keep blood off my carpet, do not disturb the writer when she’s working.  Don’t make her go all Jack Torrence on your ass, busting down the door and yelling “Heeeere’s Johnny!”

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