The Morning Journal of a Distracted Writer

The phone buzzes loudly, overbearing the softer sprightly tones that serve as the alarm. The dichotomy is odd and causes brief disconcert, before I snap awake and slap around the nightstand for the virtual snooze button. What’s odder still is that I consciously respond the first time.
It’s dark. The usual noises drift in: soft regular breathing, gentle house creaks, a car passing by, chirping. It’s normal—I haven’t woken anyone else. The phone is still my hand, so I check the time, momentarily brightening the room and forcing myself to squint. Too early. It’s spring, but why get out of bed? It’s harder to, now.
Which way is the bathroom?
The house feels cold. Must’ve forgotten to turn the heat back on last night again. Spring weather…
I check on the kids. They’re where they should be, everybody still bundled.
The hallway creaks, amplified in the darkness; the stairs sound as if the house is about to collapse. Through the front windows, it looks like the middle of the night.
Turning toward the kitchen. I need something hot, or I’ll never get anything done. No coffee today, tea. Very hot. The microwave finishes, shrieking like a scalded banshee, while I squint at the thermostat. I look at the ceiling for a few seconds, concerned that was louder than it probably was.
My tablet sits on the counter. The news feeds beckon; I have to know what happened the last six hours, the best ways to pack an overhead bag, my new favorite vegetables to roast, who the latest March Madness underdog is. Half an hour passes.
I’m wasting my opportunity. I got up when I wanted to for a change, and I haven’t thought of a word to write. My tea is cold. I can now make out the lawn chair that my youngest child dragged out to the small tree in the back to help him climb it. Where are the tissues?
I realize it’s been two weeks since I worked on anything important. I’m slowly losing confidence. Maybe it’s just a valley between peaks. Just start!
But now with ideal conditions, what to do? I haven’t finished the last post I started. The outline for my kids’ story has to be finished or I’ll never get that out. The book review I wanted to start weeks ago still haunts. A case full of family history remains untouched at my feet.
I turn on the desk light. It illuminates the wood harshly, like a new headlight, when it’s the only one on. I gingerly drop to the chair, avoiding a spill, only to bump the desk and freeze in panic as my tea sloshes dangerously.
The computer wakes, brightening the room and showing me where I left off the last time I got distracted yesterday. Ironically, I had been adding more distractions to our virtual calendar, licensing it to consume more of our time.
I got that many emails overnight? Delete, delete, delete.
I open my writing app. A blank page. Daunting. I think about free writing, just as a way to get started. No, I’ve never liked doing that—I always make it sound forced, as I have to concentrate on something. Something…
It occurs to me that part of the reason I’ve stopped getting ideas is that I don’t stand back and listen for them. Maybe that’s worth exploring. I make a note.
Still, where to start? I consider just journaling, but I prefer the end of the day for that. The journal idea persists. How about focusing on a scene, instead of cataloguing a whole day?
Words, then a sentence. Then another, a paragraph. Rewrite that. The idea solidifies. My intimidation recedes, and I begin to feel focus. I am able to follow the path that’s opening, recalling details, turning it into what I would not have thought it could be unless I stopped to think. I feel like I’m able to close this arc.
Creaks from the ceiling. Three hours have passed, and I’m near 700 words, feeling accomplished. The sun is up.
The phone buzzes loudly about an event later this morning, waking me for the second time.

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1 Comment

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One response to “The Morning Journal of a Distracted Writer

  1. Pingback: Meanwhile, back at the blog | Cut the crusts off

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