Pick up the phone, already!

by M.J. Hearle

These are the first words I’ve typed since early August. Sure, there have been emails and the occasional rogue tweet but nothing substantial. Certainly, nothing creative. Work on my short story about Claudette Duchamp has ground to a halt. The outline for the third Winter novel remains only a few lonely sentences. Screenplays exist as idle notions. I don’t feel like a writer, and haven’t for a while.

My usual gripe for not writing is lack of free time. What with my day job, relationship, various social and family commitments, finding a spare one or two hours daily is pretty difficult. The thing is the time does exist, I’m just not utilising it.

Why, you ask?

It’s to do with a wedding. My wedding to be precise. I’m getting married in November and while I couldn’t be more excited, I’m finding it difficult to concentrate on anything else. Apparently there is a lot to organise when it comes to a wedding and when you’re not busy organising it’s amazing how much mental real estate looming nuptials can occupy.

From the moment I wake up in the morning, till I close my tired eyes at night, I’m thinking about the wedding. I’m doing very strange things like obsessing over bomboneires, worrying about my groomsmen’s vests, seriously looking into pagan weather ceremonies to guarantee sunshine (anybody got a spare chicken they’re not partial too?). So when I have spare time, I really don’t because the time never feels like it’s mine to do with as I like. The wedding greedily gobbles all my attention like a fat man at a buffet.

It’s particularly frustrating because I’m so close to finishing the Claudette short story. It’s a good one too. Scary and dark but also sad. I’ve adapted my writing style to suit Claudette’s voice which as you can imagine is considerably different to Winter’s. A little more sophisticated and tad more psychotic. The story has also allowed me to explore The Dead Lands mythos further which is always fun.

I’ve run into a problem though. The longer I spend away from the story, the harder it is to return to it. Kind of like that fond relative you know you should call but keep putting off for one reason or another until it seems almost easier not to call them. If only I could find a way to compartmentalise – section off times in the day to think about the wedding, freeing up other time to write – then I’d be okay.

Alas, this particular trick is one I’ve never mastered. I’m not a multi-tasker. Just ask my fiancée. She’s learnt from experience that I’m only capable of performing one job at a time. Any more than that and we encounter the law of diminishing returns. Give me one job and I’ll do it well. Two jobs and I’ll do them both poorly. Three jobs? Forget about it! If you asked me to pack the dishwasher and make a coffee you’d probably end up with a detergent flavoured latté. Such is my lot in life.

Knowing this, I should probably put off finishing Claudette’s story until after the wedding. And I would, except for this nagging guilt which plagues me. Any writers out there can hopefully empathise. When I’m not writing I feel like I should be. Especially, when I’ve got a story on the boil. Especially, when I’m writing about such a forceful character. Wedding or no wedding, Claudette wants me to finish the story soon and I think I’d be a fool to cross her. Woe to those that do.