Friday, June 11, 2010

That Which I Feared Most

by
Barbara D'Amato

Like Job, that which I feared has come to pass.

I forgot I was supposed to blog today. I always hoped this oversight wouldn't happen. As an excuse, we are hosting a party tonight for a child who is graduating from Kellogg and my mind was elsewhere.

However, to make a little lemonade out of this lemon, I was forced to think about the things that distract us from writing. Illness, for instance, especially of a family member, household disasters, a dental appointment, the discovery that your central plot element has already been used. When do we override the distractions and when do they conquer us?

My friend, the late writer Mary Shura Craig, used to say that people she liked would ask her to lunch or dinner but she usually refused. She couldn't spare the time. She said, "I am ruthless about time." And she added that she would not often let family issues intrude on her writing schedule, either. She produced many wonderful books in her lifetime, in three names -- mysteries under her own, thrillers as M. S. Craig, and children's books as Mary Francis Shura.
But I've never figured out how ruthless to be.

The best I've been able to do is combine stressors. I try to set up "hell days" so that other days are clear. Maybe one day with the dentist in the morning, the internist in the afternoon, and the closet clean-out in the evening. This actually works pretty well, except for emergencies.

19 comments:

Dana King said...

Re: Ms. Craig's attitude. My father taught me years ago, walk around every cemetery you can find. No one ever has "I wish I'd spent more time at the office" on their tombstone.

Barbara D'Amato said...

Well, that's a point, Dana. And I agree, but my problem is finding the right balance.

sara Paretsky said...

Barb I'm always struggling with this. I cannot seem to shed my "good girls put themselves last" childhood, although, like you, I keep trying to come up with rubrics that will make it happen. And with all respect to Dana's father, I have a feeling that when my life is reaching its end, I will wish I had dedicated more of my own waking'/working hours to writing, to testing the limits of my creativity, instead of making coffee, washing the dog, attending charity events, blah blah blah

Barbara D'Amato said...

Exactly, Sara. I seem to do the chores first, no matter how many times I tell myself that they will wait, that they aren't very important--and then most of the day is gone.

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