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All the time in the world

April 7, 2020

I’m a teacher by profession. Except there’s not much going on in the education world right now. Our country hasn’t gone to fill scale distance learning, though I do have some optional assignments on my website (yes, optional math assignments) and I have some students working to recover pervious failing grades. Keeping up with that isn’t exactly a full time gig right now. So I have all the time in the world to write.

I bet you know whether this is going. It’s not that I’m getting no writing done. I’ve done more in the past two weeks than I have in any pair of weeks in a long time. But it’s not a full time writing good either. It could be. It should be. But damn, items hard to do it.

Is anyone else experiencing this?

I have three things to blame this on: interruptions, atrophy, and weirdness.

The interruptions are simultaneously the least of the problems and the worst of the problems. It never fails, once I get going at the keyboard, something needs to be done. Dinner needs to be made or dishes need to be done or shopping needs to be done (which feels like wandering into a zombie apocalypse…but that’s later) or the lawn needs to be moved or my kid needs to be ferried to or from her mother’s house. All of these are my normal household take, but somehow they always stroke when I’m trying to get writing done. Oh, and lately there have been a bevy of school emails, many from students and parents at just whatever hour. Part of this is that I’m always about to start typing. The other issue is that writing isn’t my “real job” so it can be interrupted for other things. I never have to interrupt a lecture to make dinner or a quiz to more the lawn. Part of this is that others (not pointing fingers, babe) think this way about my writing. The bigger issue is that I feel this way about it. I talk a big game about making writing my fill time job until schools open up again, but I’m not there mentally yet. This is a battle of willpower that I simply need to keep fighting and gaining ground in.

By atrophy I mean that, just like it’s hard to hop into a marathon after younger spent several years on the couch, so too is it hard to write for extended times when I haven’t been flexing those muscles much at all. Writing is hard. Sometimes I forget that. It requires work and talent and more work. My endurance is low; I can’t stay focused on a completely separate reality for more than about thirty minutes before my concentration starts to crumble. Again, this is something I need to work at, just like if were working up to marathon shape again. (Ha! Again?)

Then there’s the weirdness. The when-will-the-world-go-back feeling that permeates every waking moment these days. The sense that going to the supermarket is an act if risking your life or the lives of the other shoppers. Even weirder was the day I went to Lowe’s for gardening supplies and found half the city already there, half of them acting like nothing was different. Even in sci-fi and fantasy, I feel like nothing I write could be stranger than what I’m living. There are moments when I can do nothing but sit and shudder when I consider the scope of the changes the world is experiencing and wondering which changes (or speculating new ones) will become permanent. Gas prices? Probably not. The stock market? I hope not. Layoffs? I shudder to think. But this distraction isn’t something I’m going to get over. It will eventually pass, but not soon. But it’s okay to be overwhelmed by overwhelming stuff. I just need to remind myself of this. Often.

So what was the point of this post? Threefold, I guess. 1) I needed to get these thoughts out of my head and written someplace so I can deal with them. 2) To let people know that, if they are feeling these distractions when trying to write or paint or create or improve, they aren’t alone. They aren’t weird or weak or inferior for their struggles. And 3), hoping others out there will respond to help reinforce the fact that I’m not alone in these distractions either.

Thanks for listening, er, reading. But now I need to get to bed. I have writing to do tomorrow. And mowing. But mostly writing.

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