I whined, but I wrote


The two suitors offering to light my cigarette are Frustration and Distraction. You know those boys, and they’re not gentlemen at all. It’s bad enough when one of them comes calling, but I’m being double-teamed.

My personal, sacred scribbling time suffers, and it makes me difficult. Frustration and Distraction are wild-eyed bad-boys and they’ve both simply got to shoo.

I used to have this delightful hour every day when I sat outside – rain, shine, or tornado – and did a little hand-scribbling in a chemistry notebook. I’m one of those fidgety extroverts who can’t write in a closed room alone, so I always wrote outside the student center or at the local coffee shop. Just enough solitude, just enough background murmur, and the perfection of a good notebook.

It wasn’t that I was stoically productive or especially brilliant at those times, that wasn’t really the point. It was a languid, trusted hour without rules and “no smoking within 25 feet of door” signs. It was my hand gripping a perfect pen and gliding over the page with so much to say, to cram into that little hour. It was bad coffee and too many Virginia Slims in places where I never had to create a character because they were sitting all around me. Makes me a little misty just thinking about it.

I’m going to whine now, so pay close attention.

The problem began with the outdoor smoking ban at the coffee shop and student center renovations that cordoned off my Very Perfect Place To Write. These two events happened concurrently, leaving me no choice but to write in my office or at home. Both places lack ever-changing crowds and weather. Both places have a computer, and I suspect the computer is killing me. I really do.

In the time it took to write this far I already checked Ebay, my office email, my personal email, my students’ group blog, the weather for tomorrow, and CNN for the latest on the Michigan primary. Hillary won a one-man (person) race and Huckabee finished third. I’m serious. You know I am because you do this, too.

Frustration and Distraction. There they are. It’s enough to age me beyond my 36 years (thanks for the suggestion, Tim).

I’ve decided that the computer also makes me rewrite as I’m creating – something that doesn’t happen when I’m handwriting. It also makes me all parenthetical and dashy – a terrible, computer-invoked symptom reflecting an inability to concentrate for more than, say, three running seconds. Multitasking is good if you’re trying to clean the house or get ahead at your factory job, but it’s literary murder for those of us who need to write for extended periods just to feel balance.

I ran across a blog the other day that blew me away – Strikethru. Typecasting or papercasting is so delightful that I won’t attempt explanation. I’ll just show you. And then I’ll check my mail and Ebay and go to bed. You really should stop by this site.