Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Writer's Block--A Timeline of Procrastination

No, no, not for the blog. I can almost always think of something to come here and yammer about on a daily basis. And I love it that you come and read. No, I'm talking about writer's block for my actual work writing. Writing that I am supposed to do for money, and so you'd think that would make me finish it in a timely fashion. You'd think.

I had a client's magazine deadline on Monday. My original plan was to have it all finished last Friday so I would not have that "oh my gosh, it's Sunday night and I haven't done my homework" panic attack that I remember so well from middle school, high school, college and graduate school. I hate, wait, let me rephrase that, HATE that feeling. Something looming over your head. I hate loominess. And yet, I let things looooooom.

So I had this big plan. And then Grandma died and suddenly there were far more important things to think about besides work. Flight arrangements, creating a 1,002 page schedule for Eamonn to follow while I was gone, cooking, cleaning, meal planning, baking, deciding what to wear (and then realizing it was going to be too cold to wear a freaking dress at the funeral in the end so I'm going to have to go shopping here for pants that are acceptable to the masses), and on and on.

So I decided I would write the stories Friday night (five stories in one night???) before flying out last Saturday. As if. I can't exactly recall what happened and what I did last Friday night--oh wait, I do recall--Declan's hockey team played between periods at the Detroit Red Wings Alumni v. Vail Mountaineers charity hockey game in Vail. We didn't get home until 10pm. Yes, yes, it's all coming back to me now. I was packing and still unshowered 30 minutes prior to leaving for the airport on Saturday morning. So no writing got done Friday night.

Saturday night. I arrived and Tara, Mom and I went through family pictures so the funeral home could put together a commerative DVD of Grandma's life. This is big in the funeral industry now, just so you know. And you should also know that I didn't actually do too much work on the picture project. I kind of sorted through some pictures wondering when I could discreetly slip off to bed without being labeled a lazy ass.

Sunday. We drove, in a "snow storm," to the small town my parents and grandparents were from and made funeral arrangements. I did a small amount of work. Just enough to get by with a completely different client. Still, nothing new written for the magazine client whose deadline was the next day. I just could not get motivated. Besides, we started watching Cranford, which, if you have not seen it, you should get from your local library and watch with your sister or your mother or your best friend. Oh, how I love period drama. I want to marry Judy Dench. I want to live in those times--but without getting scarlet fever, or cholera or the morbid sore throat, or whatever it was that they died from back then.

Monday. Time to Get Serious. I went to the library for most of the day. I was Really Committed to getting the articles finished. And then I realized that for two of the articles, the interview subjects had not sent me the final materials they needed to so I could actually complete the articles. I finished a different article and submitted everything I had completed to date. Then spent the rest of my time at the library gazing around, wondering if I would see anyone I knew (I did) and eating a contraband protein bar. We stayed up until 1am watching the end of Cranford. Then I had to stay up until 2am finishing documents for yet another client. The final two article for the magazine client? Still not done.

Tuesday. Was beset by a hopeless feeling that frequently overcomes me when I am blocked and cannot even get the first sentence down on paper (screen). Rules of writing would dictate that I just skip the first sentence, paragraph, or whatever it is that is blocking me and come back to it later, but I feel stubborn and don't want to do this. I will not write until I have an appropriate lead. This really only leads to doom. Anyway, I'm so tired from staying up so late that I can't actually write. I don't blog as punishment to myself, because I technically probably shouldn't blog if I haven't completed my actual work. Kind of like not allowing myself to eat dessert if I haven't exercised. No work writing? Then no blogging allowed.

Wednesday. I haven't heard from my client who needs the magazine articles even though I sent her some of them and asked her a question. I'm hoping that a gigantic storm has enveloped Denver and she can't get to the office and work, which means it's no big deal that I'm so behind. I place a hopeful call. No, she is there working on the magazine. However, she is one of those very gracious people and tells me that I'm not holding her up--she is placing other articles and I can send mine whenever. I ask if Christmas is OK. There is no answer.

This morning. I crank out one of the last two stories due: How to Survive, and Even Thrive, in an Economic Crisis. This is actually a good one and I didn't fall asleep once while writing it. I sent it. I feel relieved for about 2.2 seconds. One article to go.

Now. OK, it's the moment of truth. If I could just get started, I would have this thing finished in about two hours. I'm blocked. And we're going to Target because Tara says I need different types of hair clips to control my hair, which in Ohio resembles a lion's mane. An unkempt lion. Or maybe Janis Joplin. Plus, we are eating sushi tonight and I need to give that some thought. And popcorn. We are in a snowstorm and my mother ran out of popcorn. I don't know how someone actually does that, but there you have it.

Tomorrow. Is the funeral and so the work has to be finished today. Like now. The funeral was actually supposed to be today, but the storm, and to give Ohio credit, it was an actual storm--even by Colorado standards--has shut everything, and I mean everything, down in this city. The colleges and universities are even closed. Good grief. That seems a tad extreme, but I'm enjoying the still, cozyness of this day so you won't get any complaints from me.

I am willing my brain to become unblocked. As soon as I get back from Target. And eat sushi. And eat popcorn and watch Little Women with my sisters.


Autumn said...

I was wondering how you were liking this Ohio weather.:) I am just North of you in Lima and we are snowed in here too. I LOVE it!

Leeann said...

you know what, you are doing just fine. Being with your family in this time of loss and enjoying the precious time together is far more important than anything you are going to write. Although I would like to read that finance article!

bTW, I don't know who Autumn is, but her avatar is hilarious!

pps- hate period pieces. not my thing!

Anne Kimnach said...

Whoa, you're stressing ME out reading this! BTW, are you growing your hair out for Locks of Love? I want to do that, by I'm not sure I can part with getting highlights --especially since I have no earthly idea what color my hair really is.

Jane Snell Copes said...

Have SO been there. Panic is a very good motivator, but that is not the name of my Muse! Best to you all remembering your wonderful gran. Jane