I get distracted very easily. It’s not that I don’t want to, but there’s a lot of things that take my attention away from what I want to do on a regular basis. Even writing this post is taking longer than I want it to.
The pattern has repeated itself multiple times over the course of my adult life. I start off with a great plan of attack. Get myself prepared. Sit down and attempt to make some creation come to life. But then a phone call happens. Or I’m at my desk at work and a bevy of people need something fixed. I get home and there’s things to do, clothes to fold, food to make, errands to be run. It’s a non-stop series of distractions.
I then think, “That’s ok. I can finish work on this tomorrow.” Then it’s tomorrow and more distractions come into my world. Some the same, others completely different. And no matter what I do, the thing I wanted to do and planned to do, doesn’t get completed.
And therein lies where some of the major issues I have with myself. Having lots of plans that I want to do, but letting too much get in the way and ending up with unfinished works of greatness.
Oh sure, some things get done and I normally can accomplish most tasks on time, pending any serious distractions like technical issues, family concerns or reasonable obligations. But it’s much larger than that.
Most people that know me well, know that there is one major thing in life that I want to do:
- Become a full-time writer
Of course, having shared that on a regular basis with others many times over the years, it’s become more of something I say, rather than something I do.
My true frustration of what I want to do in life can be summed up with two things:
- I used to be published years ago
- I’ve got stories that I want to complete
So, you say, if you really wanted to do it, why not make it happen? I mean, if it happened before, it can happen again, right? Let’s take a ride in the way back machine for a moment and see how I got here, at this moment in time.
Back in 1991, I was 28. It was the year my daughter was born. Life actually was pretty good. I was happily married, had a decent job and didn’t have much stress. And I was self-published. I did a newsletter called Take It With You, which covered palmtops, PDAs and electronic organizers. I published this newsletter for almost two years before halting publication. I loved writing and I spent lots of time learning Aldus PageMaker on my Mac IIcx and getting very good at desktop publishing.
But in April 1992, financial issues hit and I filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It wasn’t easy going through that financial stress and eventually, it took a sizable toll on my creative side. Most of my focus returned to my day job [I worked at WordPerfect as an IT professional and software tester in the Macintosh group]. But I still managed to direct some focus on my writing career.
“I have the keyboards!” – in my best He-Man voice
I had started to freelance for various publications, all of them computer related: Service News, ComputorEdge [San Diego-based weekly tech rag], Mobile Technology Review, Network News, NetWare Solutions, Pen Computing Magazine, Connect Magazine [my own column, called “Staying Connected For About A Pound” appeared monthly], Intelligent Newton and a few others. From the end of 1993 to around the end of 1996, I had enough freelance writing jobs that it was looking like I could take the next step, jump in with both feet and make a living at it.
Ummmm… not so fast.
The first part of 1996 was pretty rough. I worked for a local hospital as their Network Administrator. But it wasn’t what I did or where I worked. It was WHO I worked for. Stress was a large part of my day, having to answer to someone that didn’t give two shits about me or what I did. I spent almost seven months in pure, fucking hell. I did a get a break in July 1996 when I went to work for Teltrust, which turned out to be a good thing. But the damage had been done to my wordsmith skills and I quit doing most of the freelance work I did.
Fast forward about three years. It’s now February 2000. A lot of changes are going on in my life. I am going through a divorce and am now more concerned about my daughter and trying to find myself in life than I am trying to write the next great novel or pen a work of brilliance in a monthly rag. My job at Teltrust came to a screeching halt [another story for another blog post]. Fortunately, I found a Systems Admin job at Cimarron Software and had no interruption of employment, although nothing was being published on the writing front.
But in 2001, something happened. A good friend of mine and I were chatting via ICQ one day. During our chat, she asked me what I wanted to do in life. And even though I hadn’t done any regular writing for a few years, there was no hesitation when I said, “I want to be a full-time writer.” So she asked if I had anything to share with her. I did not have any of my previous work in electronic format available. Instead, I came up with a story and started typing it out, one IM chat window at a time. After a few days of this, I ended up with the first chapter to a story that I continue to work on today – “Heaven Forrest”
The feeling I got from creating this story from scratch – complete with characters, story line and overall plot – was incredible. I continued to write and finished three chapters in less than two weeks.
So what happened? You would think with that burst of creativity, I would have continued with my writing and finished the story. Alas, once again, there was a distraction.
October 2001, I was laid off from that job. I then spent the next 18 months doing various side jobs, breaking up with my girlfriend [now my wife] and trying to stay afloat financially. Too much doom and gloom for you? Hang on. There’s a positive spin here.
I signed up over at Blogger.com in February 2002 and started blogging. It wasn’t anything regular [I wouldn’t post my next four entries until October 2002], but it was a step in the right direction, even though most of my posts were venting about my disassembled life. My postings were semi-regular until December 2006, when I went into a ten month dry spell. I wanted to get past this irregular writing pattern and work towards writing on a regular basis. That’s when I decided to get serious and start a dedicated blog site.
On April 1, 2008, I started Banal Leakage [which is what you are reading now], which has always been and always will be the main venue for moving me into the direction of writing on a full time basis. Sure, my posts are a mix of funny, trivial, entertainment and sometimes a stolen meme, but it’s me writing on a regular basis.
But it’s still not a paid gig. That is my ultimate goal. Not the money part, but being published again. Don’t get me wrong. Benefitting financially from my writing is needed to sustain myself in life, but it’s writing on a regular basis beyond the confines of my own blog that is of greater importance.
Fortunately, I get those moments where a surge to write again happens.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were at dinner. We talk a lot during dinner, mostly between bites of food. I mentioned the stories I am working on and how I actually have been working on them, just not talking about them. That lead to a discussion of my story “Heaven Forrest”, which my wife knows a good deal about [She’s read the first three chapters and knows the plot]. By the end of dinner, she had made some extremely groundbreaking suggestions for the story that elated me beyond words. Seriously, it was so great to have something added to this story. It’s these burst of ideas that keep the story going. They may only last a few days until the next surge of thought, but it keeps me working on them.
In the most recent surge of urgency this past week, Winter of Sunlight Sucks and Lex Valentine, was a guest on The Jester Show on Talkshoe.com. She’s been one of my inspirations as a writer [Catherine at Seventh Notebook is my other] and has made incredible progress on getting herself published. She’s dedicated herself and carved out time in her busy life to make writing a priority. While she has used the word “sacrifice” to describe her process of making time to write, she has done it. Not only does she have several contracts for books with publishers like Pink Petal Books, she’s also continued to write her story- even including me as a character in one of her forthcoming works. Color me flattered.
Ok, stepping out of the ego-induced light I’m basking in.
If I am to make something happen, it’s got to be me making some changes. And while I get these bursts of renewed writing vigor, they haven’t produced permanent results. As I sit here writing this up, I am thinking of all sorts of ways to keep the many distractions I have in my life at bay, learning how to deal with them as they come my way and learning how to return to writing:
- When I get interrupted, write down what it was I was doing, then attend to the issue at hand. This will help me repoint my focus to my writing once I’ve removed the distraction
- Carve out a specified number of hours each week to write. This is the only way I feel I can make progress on my stories
- Take a break to unwind from the stress of the day before writing. Clearing one’s head of any bullshit is a critical step into focusing on the stories and allowing them to flow out of my head
Those are just a few steps I am going to apply in my life to re-focus my energies towards my writing. If they work, I will see some progress. If they do not, then I need to rethink my strategy.
Ok, I’m sure I’ve lost many of you about ten paragraphs ago, as most of you are just wanting to know when the next Snowy Sunday is getting posted [an all-new Episode 15 shows up this Sunday]. For those of you that stuck with me to the end, thank you and I hope to be showing off some of my writing talents here and in other places in the very near future.
It’s time I took all of the years and many attempts I’ve made to enter a full-time writing career and make this next one permanent. It can only mean great things for me in the end.
I’m Magically Delicious
12 Comments | Mar 17, 2010
A Truly Lazy Sunday
12 Comments | May 24, 2009
TINTFA 2012 – 9 Month Update
8 Comments | Oct 3, 2012
No Comments | Apr 15, 2013
About The Author
Leave a Reply to Iron Fist Cancel reply
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Heh. I still have my Atari Portfolio but haven’t turned it on in ages… I don’t even know if it will work. The Portfolio was big fun, and I still remember it making an appearance in Terminator 2!
I think you are on the right track with your list! And I think that when you have that allotted time to write, it is important that it is a substantial amount of time and without interruption.
I hate that I get distracted so often. I opened this, then went to the bathroom, and forgot what I was doing when I came back! Something I do at work is make a To Do list (in Lotus Notes) and stick by my priorities there. But I still get distracted.
I would love to read your work. I can’t wait to see it published and buy a copy.
I tend to work better under pressure, like, I guess I need incentive. Maybe promise yourself something if you finish X amount by March 15th, or whatever. (Am I making sense?!)
Anyway, I think it’s awesome and I predict nothing but success for you!!! 🙂
I am the Queen of Unfinished Business!
I hope your strategies work for you, sounds like a good plan.
I truly feel you on this. The need to get into a routine to write daily is what drove me to blogging as well.
Now its about taking the time from that and diverting it to the memoir, unedited novel, and half done novel to actually finish those that I seem to be having the problem with.
A pound of flesh for an extra 2 hours of QUIET in the day.
dave2 – I had several Portfolios back in the day. As a CompuServe SYSOP for the forum, I did a lot of support. And a lot of articles on it in my freelancing days. Cool to hear you still have yours.
kilax – I hope so, too. And your todo list comment was something that I’ve considered adding to the mix. I don’t use my todo’s on iCal and on my phone to the best use. Everyone will know when something of mine gets published.
sybil law – You mention working under pressure. I tend to do some of my best work under pressure, too. But it means I actually have to do that. I did a lot of good articles in the last day (of course, did the research before hand or knew the subject matter that I was writing about very well).
beth – Thank you. Sounds like I have company in the unfinished dept.
nycwd – Thanks for your comment. It’s good to know others are having similar time issues. Good luck to you on getting your novels and stories finished. I hope we can all have the success of getting published soon.
Holy crap, amen, yes sir do I ever get this.
Me, I felt like I got derailed entirely, and ever since it’s like I’ve been running along side the tracks, keeping a keen eye on my right life, right over there where I’m supposed to be. Every so often the brush will thin out just enough that I get a good clear look at this parallel universe, where I’d be if I hadn’t been so susceptible to negative messages, if I’d taken everything a lot easier, if I’d insisted upon growing myself up more healthfully, been more mature, set higher standards for all aspects of my life, had better attitudes, been quicker and more decisive, been more easily excited and motivated, if if if etc., etc., and I will see getting back onto those tracks as possible, not lost from me.
I’ll catch a real sense of hope. I might try to nudge myself over toward those tracks, get closer. I have inhibitions I have tried to simply ignore, no idea really what they may be, but they really need to get the living FUCK out of my fucking way at this point, because, like you, I want to be writing for my living, I want to be happy and healthy and taking classes and running around the city doing theater groups and teaching and dating and feeling energized and gratified and professional and and at peace with myself and the world. I want to be a cool girl with a sexy life, damnit!
To my credit, I’ve never strayed so far from those tracks that I’ve lost sight of them. I’ve felt that I can’t just edge over toward them; I need to make a leap. No, no idea what I mean by that. But It may just be my way of saying I’m long since out of patience with myself. Stuck and stagnating, I feel like I need help.
One thing that’s beyond priceless to me is knowing I have someone in my corner. It’s reviving to a person’s spirit to know there’s a friendly soul wishing them the best and talking them through a bit of their life, listening, ‘getting’ them, available for questions or advice or even working on something with them. I’m very grateful you’re around, Marty. It’s kinda cool you’re at a similar place as I am, as differently as we’ve arrived there, so we can nod and wave hi and go, yeah, I’ll cheer you on and you can cheer me on. It means … how in world do I say what that means to me?
Penguins. That’s all I can think of. Lots of adorable, happy penguins. Love to you, and a million cheers as you head on your way to your illustrious career.
(I know this is way, way too long, I think the comment police would be mad at me : P Oh well, hopefully they’re off enjoying donuts somewhere or something.)
I know that having another book thrown your way might seem like just one more distraction (and it can be) but I highly recommend picking up a copy of Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art“. It gave me a lot of insight into looking at my own distractions, and strategies for dealing with them.
Also, I grew up reading ComputorEdge.
I think the most important thing in this is that YOU believe that YOU can do it. Trust in your own capability and the fact that you will do it!
Very cool, Marty. I look forward to reading what you’re willing to share. And if you ever want a pair of eyes to give it all a look-see, let me know. I’m no professional writer/editor in any sense of the word (although I do get paid at work to write occasional articles and proof them), but I’m happy to lend a hand.
Good luck with it.
catherine – No issues with the long comment. Make it as long as you need (no police here). I know that place and it can be frustrating. My hope is that you can break out of that and unleash what’s there. It’s what I’m trying to do myself. For me, I’ve had a pattern of it for too long. Trying to break that pattern takes some work. I want to do it, it’s just a matter of finding the right way to do that for me. It’s one of those individual things in life.
iron fist – I will go check out that book here. Always interested in anything that can help. ComputerEdge was a cool tech rag (in printed format).
dutchbitch – Thanks for the words of encouragement. I am thinking I may have something this time that works.
kapgar – By all means, I’ll fire off some page to you. Always nice to have another set of eyes take a look to see what they can see and make any corrections or suggestions to make it all work in the end.
ack….came here to leave a comment and just realized i’m late for church, lol….will be back!
Randomly reading blogs as i sip white wine and think i should be writing instead to doing this…now i’m sure of it.
Because i posted this from your blog, on mine:
“Most people that know me well, know that there is one major thing in life that I want to do:
* Become a full-time writer”
…different words, different story, same problem of no time. But i want it soooo bad. I really really do.
Good to read your posting, and the comments, a nudge of unexpected encouragement…thank you.
I think if you want something badly enough you will keep trying until you get there.
That pic of you made me giggle – sorry! ;o)
blonde blogger – Boy, the church service you go to is pretty long. *LOL*
monica – Great talents that want to explore and publish themselves think alike. Wow. Thanks for finding me and posting this. Knowing another person that wants this as bad as I do and understands what needs to be done is encouraging.
penelope – I think you are right. I’ve been able to do that in other aspects of my life. Now to apply it to this endeavor. And yes, that was in my VERY geeky days (I’m still geeky)
Sorry!! You have to give me irony points for me getting distracted and forgetting to come back. (and double those irony points because the service *was* actually much longer than usual because they were initiating new members into the church, lol)
Okay, first of all, great picture of you. Geeky looks good on you. 🙂
Secondly, some of the greatest books have taken decades to write and eventually publish, so there’s no reason why you can’t be part of those statistics.
I call dibbs on the first autographed copy you send out. 🙂
This reminded me of so many things.
I remember reading articles about how a person could save $1000 by building their own computer (and in 1980s dollars). I used to teach WordPerfect at a Rehab facility (and even remember Wordstar). The first time I saw Windows it came as a runtime version with PageMaker — at one time I had a part-time job laying out pages with the program (I use PM 6.5 once in a while now; I’m terribly rusty). I spent just over a year in pure, fucking hell due to a dipshit boss (that was a long, long time ago — but you never forget the dipshits.)
I hope the writing (and being able to set aside time to write) comes along as planned. It sounds like you have a good plan.
blonde blogger – Irony points deserved. Thanks for the props on the photo. Hard to believe that was almost 17 years ago when that was taken. And you are right… there are some great books that have taken years. I always think of Thomas Pynchon and how long he spends writing a book. And I’ll be sure to send out that autographed copy when it arrives on my desk. 🙂
delmer – Guess I’m not alone in my use of yesteryear software programs (I still have my copy of PageMaker 6 with all of my previous copies of the my newsletters – and an older Mac running OS 9.1 to run it on). And it seems everyone remembers the dipshit boss they had. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope I can make it happen this time.
I find that happening to me all the time. To the point where I swear people think I’m all mouth and no trousers. (Brit speak for talks a good game but never backs it up with action). I do have good intentions but the days are never as long as I want them to be and something always gets in the way. Before you know it I’ve got a to-do list as long as my arm and not an awful lot to show for it.
Best of luck with your writing and I really hope you do get published again at some point. Plus, I’d love to read some of it in the future.
Easily the phrase of the day, “All mouth and no trousers” – LOVE that. I’m twittering that right this second. 😀
kevin – I had never had that phrase before. As with Catherine, I like that one. I think the US version of it may be “shit or get off the pot”… well, maybe not a direct translation. he he
Long and overdue to-do lists are a mark of my trade.
Thank you for the wishes. I hope the changes I plan on making work for me. And as long as you frequent on this blog, you will know when I get published.
catherine – Yes, a great phrase indeed.
My thinking was that it’s a clever way to say, ‘all talk and no action’ – Talk = mouth; Action = trousers, as in, getting up and running around and doing things. Which a person could only do if they were out of their lazy pajamas and in their street clothes.
Of course, ultimately, same difference, huh? 😉
catherine – See, now that’s a better description, IMO.