Tag Archives: frustration

Distraction; how do you deal with it?

My partner is a great supporter of my writing. At the same time, he can be a great obstacle to it.

I write most easily when I can completely escape into the words. Ideally, I wake up early (even though I’m anything but a morning person) and enjoy the solitude over a cup of coffee, perhaps using the time to catch up on my reading. Once fully awake, I write. With distractions at a minimum in the morning and my dear partner out of the house, my creative process thrives. I can make goofy faces as I go through the emotions of a character, I can mumble words to myself as I type, and I can sit and stare at a screen for hours while I puzzle out a scene before putting words to paper.

All of this becomes much more difficult in his presence.

If I put my palms against my eyes and sigh, he checks to make sure I’m okay. If he reads a particularly interesting something-er-other, he’s GOT to tell me about it. (He’s gotten better about allowing me to say “give me five minutes” while I finish a line, though.) Often, he lounges on the couch watching videos with the sound up and I have to put on headphones and music to drown it all out. It’s all incredibly sweet but, shortly put, he can be incredibly distracting!

Occasionally, I daydream of my own office – a place where I can go to write, free of distraction. However, I fear if that was ever realized I might never leave it…

I may have written about all this before. If so, I apologize for the repetition. It’s just that the past two weeks I’ve been acutely aware of this struggle because my dearest partner has been on holiday. It’s lovely to have him home, to watch him unwinding from the stress of everything. At the same time, I cannot wait for him to go back to work! Does anyone have any good tips for dealing with distractions?

In other news, tomorrow begins the challenge week in which I work on expanding my Writer’s Toolbox. I need to explore writing concepts and techniques, educate myself a bit more. With a belly full of food and a pillow calling my name, this all sounds like a great amount of work… but the back of my mind is itching with excitement! I know in the morning, I will probably overload myself with ideas to start working with. Fingers crossed!

Beyond all this, I must apologize, dear readers. I’ve clearly not kept up with my commitment to this challenge. The first thing to go out the window was catching up on your writing – which I don’t consider very fair. I’ll have to make it up to you in some way. Perhaps spend a day attempting to catch up on all my subscriptions? Reading the blogs of everyone who interacts with my work? We’ll have to see.

The last thing I’ll talk about here is the sadness I feel to know that Miyazaki is retiring. For those who don’t know, Hayao Miyazaki is a creative genius who co-founded Studio Ghibli and is responsible for such wonderful movies as My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away. He has a profound way of bringing the wonder of childhood to life before our very eyes. Recently, I’ve been reading the Howl’s Moving Castle series by Diana Wynne Jones – Miyazaki adapted the first book into a movie – which makes this news all the more relative for me. Both the books and the film are nothing short of wonderful. So, if you’ve not seen any of his works – I suggest you take a look into at least one. While I wish him the best, I am saddened to know that his next film will be the last and I can only hope that Studio Ghibli continues to do great things after he retires.

Until tomorrow, my friends!

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Update: Clay Mind

Have you ever experienced one of those days where the entire world seems overwhelming?

That was my yesterday.

We had an unexpected lunch outing at the last minute, which was quite enjoyable but threw my schedule a bit. Upon returning home, I wasn’t quite yet ready to write. I opted instead to miss my deadline of getting started by 2pm, informing my partner he’d have to choose a penalty for me later, and bumbled about the internet for a bit.

I did this in attempts to settle my mind – the opposite happened.

The more I attempted to zone out and calm my thoughts, the more stress I began to feel. People wanted to chat with me, children’s shrieks on the playground seemed louder and more frequent than usual, and I had a plethora of tabs open of things I wanted to read but hadn’t found time for… it all felt like some tidal wave of information I was meant to take in. It was too much.

I promptly shut off the computer, collected a soft scented candle and something to cover my eyes, then drew myself a nice hot bath. The bathroom is the only place you can escape the playground noise. It was quiet, the cloth I put over my eyes blocked the light, and the scent of the candle allowed my mind to drift away from my current environment…

but my mind would not shut up!

I tried some meditation, I tried thinking on the character I wanted to write, creative exercises – nothing worked. I could feel my brain hardening into that unmalleable lump of cold clay coated in slimy mucous it becomes when I’ve reached a point of overload. I refused this and tried to let go of all thought.

My partner came home. We talked. We played some games. Still, I was fried. He encouraged me to power through and I thanked him for it. It’s nice to have someone rooting for you when you don’t want to give up.

Then I thought of transforming this feeling into words, as I had once done when I’d felt too angry to write, then applying that to a character. Nothing came, though. The computer felt intimidating.

So I had an internal conversation.

I reminded myself that the reason I challenged myself was to improve my writing. I’m doing this for fun – to do something I enjoy. If it begins to feel like a job, full of deadlines and stress, I’d be missing the point.

This lead me to one question: If I force myself to bang out my minimum words on an incomplete character and complete the challenge requirement for the day, would I begin to harbour some weird resentment?

Ultimately, I decided not to risk it. I foresee much housework and dish-washing in my near future, but I believe this was the right choice.

When I awoke this morning, I didn’t feel guilty or let down or angry with myself. Interestingly, I did feel like I’d let down my readers a bit… but as most of you are writers yourselves, I also found myself wondering if any of you have gone through anything similar.

How did you handle it? What do you find most beneficial?

This blogging community has truly been much more than I expected. I’ve had the great fortune of connecting with so many wonderful independent writers, it’s as if I’ve tapped into a wealth of knowledge and creativity I never realized existed! So if you’re here and reading this – whether you read regularly or this is the first and only time you’ll ever be by – thank you.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for writing.

Also, I should note that I have kept up with the reading portion of my challenge. I failed to mention it, but on Wednesday I caught up with Yawatta Hosby’s blog, an independent published author, and Carrie over at Magic and Marvels, which is currently the favorite read out of all my subscriptions. Carrie has a very unique way with words and, just as her tagline suggests, it adds a bit of magic to life (or reminds one of its existence) when you read it. Then I found I’ve Infused Myself with Puppy DNA, with his jarring title image but fun and creative writing. I’m still reading through his recent seven-part series on recent life.

Yesterday was Legends of Windemere, another of my favorites (especially when I’m looking for some creative inspiration), and 5 Degrees of Inspiration, which I always overlook and then regret having done so when I return. I did fail to seek out a new blogger yesterday.

Today’s reads will appear at the bottom of the character write up I intend to post later this afternoon.

Looks like today will be quite full! Perhaps this is positive reinforcement that taking yesterday off was the proper decision.

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Do you know this book?

Today I experienced a feeling that I should probably make note of, for any future quirky characters of mine. It began after RhombusGirl commented on a previous post about her affinity for Little Golden books. I was reminded of the little metal bookshelf my grandmother kept tucked in the corner of the den. It was mostly shiny black with a few white accents and had wheels, even though it had no place to go. On it were stored a box full of crayons, coloring books and a plethora of Little Golden books, as well as a handful of other small children’s books. My favorite was the one about the doctor.

The doctor was a tall, slender white man with white hair, rosy cheeks, a white lab coat and an old black doctor’s bag, if I recall the illustrations properly. He made house calls to a variety of different creatures who had all taken ill. The only one I remember with any certainty was a snowman who’d stayed out in the cold too long and gotten frost bite on his foot. The doctor instructed him to wrap the foot in peeled potato skins, keep it elevated, and rest by the fire. This stuck in my head not because it was a snowman that had frost bite (ha ha), but because I had always wondered at the curative power of the potato skins. (I still think of them – perhaps erroneously – as something good for irritated skin.) There may have been an elephant with measles or chickenpox, another random critter with a cold or the flu, and something most definitely had a nose bleed… I remember having a fascination for the illustrated blood. The doctor took care of them all with empathy and compassion, then was on his way to the next patient. The story ended when the doctor himself fell ill and all of the people he’d helped came to take care of him. (At least, I think that’s how it ended.) Armed with this happy memory, I took to the internet to see if I could find its title!

I figured I had enough information to go on, but I was most certainly mistaken. After two hours of searching, I had nothing. The illustrations were akin to those in Scuffy the Tugboat so I figured it would be from the same era – 1940s or 50s – and I was fairly certain it was a Little Golden book. The only doctor-related book I could find meeting that description was Doctor Dan the Bandage Man, which was most certainly not the book of my memory.

The longer I looked, the more hopeful I grew that I would find it again. I had to find it, I thought. It felt important. It became an obsession! At some point I found myself thinking that if I could just manage to find this book, I would purchase it on the spot so that I could keep it forever. What had started as a simple, treasured memory became a dire hunt for this childhood relic. I grew frustrated and irritable. Google became my enemy for not making proper sense of my search terms. Where was this book?!

It was an anticlimactic ending that can be summed up as follows: I didn’t find it. The search only came to a halt when I became sidetracked with another equally nostalgic something. It was only then that I realized how crazy I’d become over finding the mysterious doctor book. I had to laugh at myself.

If possible, I’d still like to find it (in case anyone out there finds my description familiar)! But the most intriguing thing to me was how quickly my mind went from casual curiosity to passionate frenzy. This seems like something that could happen to any hero or villain that gets caught up in a moment. Could it even be someone’s fall from grace? Just getting too caught up in something, then not being able to let go?

Sometimes I think it’s important to note our odd behaviors and feelings so that we can better bring out the humanity of our characters.

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Countryside petrol stations: apparently stressful jobs

I’ve never met a anyone who has taken their job as seriously as the gas attendant we encountered on the way home yesterday.

Getting gas is a pretty routine activity no matter where you live. You pull your car in, you pump some gas, you pay, you leave. Sometimes you make use of the facilities or purchase some snacks at the convenience store, but that’s about it. There is nothing too time consuming about the whole procedure. Sometimes you may end up waiting for someone who’s inside purchasing snacks to move their car so you can reach the pump, but it’s never a long wait. I suppose anything can be frustrating in our 4G, always-on world, though. Anyway, I’ve gotten off point.

Yesterday, we pulled in for the final fill-up before reaching home. The driver topped off the tank while the other passenger and I went in to locate the restroom. It wound up being one of those exterior toilets for which you had to obtain the key from the attendant, which was simple enough. Never before had I considered why keys like this come with giant dongles attached to them – huge pieces of wood, giant plastic flowers, diving sticks, etc. Clearly, they’re meant to signal to people “THIS IS NOT YOURS! Remember to bring it back!” But would someone still take the thing, dongle and all? Apparently. Because the station’s attendant gave us very stern instructions to do our business, re-lock the door, then bring the key back. He was quite huffy about it, so I figured perhaps someone had walked off with this key’s predecessor earlier in the day and it had been quite an ordeal. Who knows!

So we made our use of the creepy, less-than-clean-but-functional toilet then stepped outside. As we exited, we found our driver in conversation with the attendant who had since left his post to ask our driver to please move the car. He had finished pumping our gas, but there was no one in line waiting to use the pumps. There was also another pump free right behind us and three cars on the opposite side who would be done shortly. So our driver said he’d move it as soon as he used the restroom. He entered and I waited, with the key, to lock up after him. I’d attached the key to my belt loop because there was no place in the facility to hang it or rest it – at least not someplace you’d want to retrieve it from again. The entire two minutes it took for our driver to relieve himself, the attendant huffed and puffed in disbelief and gestured toward the car as if it was preventing starving children from reaching food and water. Had I had the key, I would have gladly moved it to ease his mind (or so that he’d stop giving us dirty looks) but I didn’t. In the time it would have taken me to reach the car anyway, our driver was finished and on his way over.

I began to remove the dongle-tethered key from my belt loop to re-lock the bathroom door, but it snagged a bit. In the time it took me to free it, the station attendant had closed the distance between us and was reaching for the key himself! I explained that I was going to lock it for him but he simply grumbled, locked it himself, then stormed off. My friends and I got back in the car and continued our drive home… not sure what just happened, but we decided to laugh about it.

Bad day, perhaps? Bad year? Bad life? Bad job, at least, regardless of the rest. Perhaps he just needed a hug. Or a hobby.

But honestly, if you’re so easily upset over bathroom keys and cars that are in nobody’s way… seek help.

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Anger

How dare you.

You no longer have the social right of civility in my presence. Do not smile at me, do not wave; I suggest that you instead avert your eyes and find a path that does not intersect mine. Tuck your tail between your legs and watch the ground before your feet for the shame you ought to be feeling. I will walk proudly with head held high, knowing that never in my short existence on this planet have I ever acted as reprehensibly as you have today. We are human and we are prone to error, yet your actions go beyond this. Your decisions lacked empathy and reason; they lacked compassion. You’ve flaunted your power and authority over someone those attributes were meant to protect and nurture. You are the regurgitated stench of a dung beetle.

People can lead but not all people are leaders and you, who no longer deserve the respectful title of ‘sir’, you are no leader. You are at best a shepherd who leads his flock to slaughter, after pinning them with ribbons at the fair. You are a con who lulls people into security then, at the precise moment when they trust you most deeply and subconsciously, you drive the knife in deep. You watch their eyes as you twist the blade. I cannot help but think you find some sort of pleasure in this kind of torture you consider “leadership”.

Cowardice, foolishness, conceit, and treachery have no ribbons, no medals with which to adorn yourself… yet you have so many. Were they plucked from the uniformed corpses you left in your wake? Did you pin yourself then use their former limbs as rungs for your ladder as you ascended to a place of comfort and relaxation?

Perhaps that is harsh.

But you can’t tell me I’m the first one you’ve fucked – I’m no naive virgin. People like you do not suddenly become the way you are, nor will you cease the behavior. No; in your past are a series of skeletons you’ve slowly accumulated without, perhaps, realizing. Your closet rattles. They started off small enough, but they’re getting bigger. I only wonder how full your wardrobe can get before bursting; how enormous the skeletons before it reaches that point.

I say all of this because I feel hurt. I am angry. I feel deceived.

These are not feelings that you cannot glaze over with a simple apology. Your actions attacked the core of my trust. I may forgive you, should you make things right. However, I will always regard you with skepticism and distance. I will question your motives and ethics. I will approach you cautiously, never knowing how you might respond. You are a creature who has tasted blood – will you not continue to lust for it? I’ll always wonder, like an itch in the very back of my mind.

I do not wish to be cruel or harsh. I wish to be honest.

My eyes will not wet when we part.

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