Writing in the Real World

It would all be very nice if each of us had our own perfect writing space. Some writers dream of a sparse but comfortable office, some a comfy shed in the back yard, and some envision themselves in a cafe on the Left Bank. But we who write in the real world seldom see these dreams come true...

While researching this entry I was surprised to read that most people count Facebook, Twitter, Email, and their phones to be their greatest distractions.

Really? That's not what I'd call distraction, that's lack of self-discipline. If that's all that keeps you from writing, quitcherbitchin. Just turn it off and write!

For writers younger than myself, the greatest distractions have to be jobs, kids, pets, and household responsibilities, and there's not a whole lot they can do about it. I've been there; I know. I was a single mom with two jobs and school to distract me. For some reason, though, it was easier for me to find quiet, uninterrupted time to write back then. There seemed to be more hours in the day and I had a lot more energy as well as a lot more passion, but when the hormones go bye-bye, they take a lot of things with them that we need for our art: endurnce, drive, ambition, the ability to pound coffee all night and catch a quick nap in the car during lunch hour...

It isn't easy. Writing can become a drudgery when you don't have a long life laying open before you. You begin to wonder how much time you have left, and of that, how many years you'll actually be able to write. Not everyone is promised a perfect AARP magazine ad old age. All those beautiful, tanned couples kayaking, playing tennis, golfing, all while living on the million-dollar nest egg they saved... Most elderly people I've known have had to think about living on a fixed income, widowhood, selling their homes, abandonment by their children, illness, repeated hospital visits, and dementia. There's not a lot of possibility to write anymore when real life comes to call.

My greatest distractions aren't those I had to deal with when I was younger. Now, it's demanding pets, chronic illness, and financial worries. Some bloggers tell us they've had to demand their writing space.

Some tell me to get a hotel room for a few days each month... Right. And who will walk the dog, do the laundry, buy groceries, make dinner, and keep the house clean? As if I could afford it anyway!

Some advise me to hire a housekeeper... Are you paying? Because I can't afford that.

Some suggest I make a spare room into an office... What room? My 3x4 ft. closet?

Some tell me to go to Starbucks for a couple of hours every day... Nice, but I have no access to a car until 5:30 and our Starbucks closes at 6.

One woman said she gets her best writing done while on the many cruises her husband takes her on... STFU!

Besides the bed, the only place I can write is in my chair in the living room. I don't mind that, but I'm the kind of writer who needs a good 30 minutes to get into the zone as I write. With Nigel demanding my attention and the cats wanting to go in-out-in-out-in-out all day, I never get into that zone. It's like never getting any REM sleep at night.

The house gets pretty quiet after 10 pm, after both Nettl and Nigel go to sleep, but Lowrider thinks I'm her personal late-night butler whose only purpose in life is to open the door for her every five minutes. You think I'm kidding? By the time I convince her otherwise, it's two in the morning, my focus is shot, and I'm ready to go to bed.

I don't know what the answer is. When we can afford to, I'm buying one of those cat flaps that spring loads into a sash window. That will solve the cat issues for only about $100, and I hope that as Nigel gets a bit older, he'll become less demanding. Until then, I dream of a cabin in Big Sur. Hell, even a single room at the local Best Western sounds good!