Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Excuse Me, But I'm Obsessed

Bet you thought when I said no gaps I meant every day posting? Actually, I did. But the in-laws came into town yesterday for an overnight visit, and some how I figured it would be incredibly rude to say "Sorry to blow you off but I have this urge to blog to a bunch of nameless, faceless people that I think of as family..."

This is kind of a dilemma that I struggle with as a writer. Those of us who write understand the compulsion to tune out the entire world in favor of a quiet room where our imaginations can run rampant. I won't speak for others, but resentment is the best word to describe what I feel when real life obligations (read: living, breathing human beings who expect something of me) interfere with some flash of creativity just begging to be put down on paper. I get down right annoyed when I have to stop writing to do such things as feed children, go grocery shopping, or heck, even go to sleep for a couple of hours. When the iron is hot, pretty much everything else in my life becomes a second class citizen.

Since I'm a binge writer - I go in spurts where I could probably write 24/7 before crashing in a brain-dead heap - at least this bad attitude is limited. I can kind of get away with a "Mommy's in a writing mood" to explain all the growling I do when I have to pick up a kid somewhere or am trying to determine which of the four food groups Kraft Macaroni and Cheese falls into.

These binges don't last long, and since I have yet to be published and know the joy that is a second book with a Real Honest Deadline That Must Be Met, I piss off those around me for only a little while before Mrs. Hyde goes back in the closet. Problem is, I cannot predict when the moods will strike and I will become completely obsessed.

I've been known to sneak up to the guest room right after Christmas dinner to try to pound out a page or two before all 62 relatives realize I'm missing. I've feigned extreme exhaustion to sneak in an hour of writing time before bedtime. And it isn't beyond reason to find me scribbling into my little notebook during the over-long homily in church if a solution to a sticky plot problem comes to light or if I discover something wonderful about a new character.

It's not that I'm ashamed to be writing and feel the need to lie about it. It's that I feel guilty about wanting to write more than I want to spend time with my loved ones. Not always - mind you. For the most part I love chatting on the phone for a couple of hours with the sisters-in-law or attending the Graduation from First Year Preschool celebration.

But sometimes, when the Muse is singing in my ear and my hero and heroine are warming to each other and a new idea is greening like the front lawn after an early-April rain shower, I have to openly practice my diplomacy skills. I have to remember that it is incredibly rude to ignore the living for the imaginary. I have to acknowledge that not everyone understands the obsessive nature of a writer who lives in worlds no others can see unless she can eek out the time to put it down on paper.

Not everyone is a freak who'd rather sit in a dark room in front of the pasty glow of a blank Word document instead of frolicking outside in the spring sunshine.

I do it. But sometimes I really don't like it.


Anonymous said...

That's me. So very, very me, Lynn. And it's nice to see someone else remark on the guilt that goes along with prefering the stuff in your own head to all the three-dimensional things on the outside.

When I start writing something, it's like entering a tunnel. And while I love that- I dread it, too. Because I know, once inside, I'll only want to listen to the voices of my characters, puzzle over plot knots and pacing. And everything else becomes a mere obstacle. No matter how enjoyable, or how many of those obstacles call me Mama. (There are three. You've seen their picture.)

And I ask myself: how selfish is this, really? And is there another way?

I didn't plant a garden last spring. Heck, I didn't see the outdoors last spring, because I was neck-deep in the longest thing I'd ever written. I'm doing the same now, though to make myself feel better, am tossing flower seeds as I come and go.

But the dishes are stacked high. My youngest is still in her pajamas and it's nearly 1 pm. We've been out of groceries for days...

And I'm winding down now, I promise.

Someone smart- who I can't remember- said the ironic thing about writing is it's an exercise in solitude, and yet the whole point is the deep need to communicate something to others.

I think that hits it right on the head. What do you think?

Lynn M said...

I think I knew there was a reason you are my soul sister!

And I'm so incredible glad I'm not alone...