Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Obsession

by Hannah

My children pity me. Here it is, summer, and their mother is working like a devil.

"Call a friend!" I say, and I offer popcorn and even Nerf dart guns, leave far behind any promises to myself to never let them switch away from PBS. I am on the computer; if they come in to peer over my shoulder, they see PR emails to editors and producers, draft press releases. Ninety percent of the time, however, the second they walk from the room, the screen changes. Hey, they try to do it to me all the time. They believe they are hiding an extra half hour on Runescape or Webkinz as they pretend to email friends. I am hiding my revisions.

They don't think it is "real" work. Even when I am doing paid work, my daughter comes in and tries to chat. As I finish a marketing plan, she starts to update me on which fellow student thespian knows his or her lines, then she launches into the HONK! songbook. I explain that my office is to be respected as much as Daddy's office in the city, that I need her to find something else to do for twenty minutes.

She leaves, humming. I finish the plan in ten minutes; I pull up the story for ten more. If I can get through this chapter today, I think, I will be in good shape. I live fully in the minds of these characters, in that place where it is easy to start writing each chance I get and so, so hard to pull away. I pull it up multiple times a day, for ten minutes, half an hour, two hours. When I am not writing, I am taking notes, or reading. Reading good books as I sit poolside watching the children and their friends makes me want to get back to writing all the more.

I tell myself it is a good thing this mania hit during summer; it would be so easy to let the story slide in the battle for time. The energy to write always ebbs and flows to some degree, but this is full moon high tide. I don't know why, but there is an urgency to this now for me. It is not a need to finish, per se, although that is indeed the goal, a self-imposed timeline in place. I simply have to be writing, getting the story out accurately, refining the details, upping the ante, pushing myself in a way that is infinitely rewarding even though thus far I am the only one to see the results. At the least convenient time of the year, I am obsessed. This is my work, and I need to do it.

9 comments:

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hannah, I love your description that this is "full moon high tide" for you with this book. Our characters do pull us in at times, don't they? And they tug at our sleeves and interrupt our conversations just as much as our children do. I think it's hard for non-writers to fully understand how our storeis can be so demanding, so all-consuming, but as a writer, it's exhilerating.

Good luck balancing it all!

The Writers' Group said...

That's it -- exhilarating! Summer seems a strange time to jam 70 seconds into each minute, but it somehow does come together. Don't ask about laundry or the weeds, of course. I've narrowed the juggling/balancing act to three balls: kids, story and paycheck!

Hannah

Lisa Marnell said...

Hannah - You are a gifted and (very, very) clever writer. I'm certain your novel will emerge as a delight to read (for many). Wonderful you have chosen to feed your Muse; she is visiting you for a reason.

Just as Harry Potter makes his way bravely along the tunnel from Aberforth's Hog's Head Bar to Hogwarts, you must face your challenge with courage and single mindedness.

Imagine how proud and inspired your children will be. You've inspired me today!

Lisa

Lisa said...

I was captivated by the image of you switching away from your revisions to another screen. Why is it that our writing seems sometimes to feel like an infidelity, something we feel compelled toward, feel we can't stop ourselves from doing and have a lingering sense of guilt over? Write on!

The Writers' Group said...

Ooooooh, Lisa, an infidelity! Spot on, I love the analogy.

Amy

kristen said...

Yes, it does, at times, feel like an infidelity. Well said, Lisa.

I am so inspired, Hannah, by your ability to pursue this so aggressively during the summer months--as you say, the least convenient time of the year. Hooray for your obsession! I don't know what you are writing, but I have no doubt that I will want to read it!

The Writers' Group said...

It's true: my husband has a small Boston Whaler and I have the story. As for my children, they so obsessively monitor computer time, I can get away with only so much of the book before the grumbling volume rises. Thank goodness I am able to blame-shift without getting caught! (No, they don't read the blog.)

Hannah

Larramie said...

Simply think of it this way, Hannah. Summer is the season for indulgences and yours happens to be writing!

The Writers' Group said...

Larramie,

You couldn't have said it better. I have written your sentence on a lovely piece of stationary and placed it in a prominent location next to my desk. I love how you think and write!

Lynne