Posts Tagged ‘distractions’



I’m working on a new novel these days.  It’s thrillerish, so I’ve had to do something I don’t really like to do.  I outlined the story.

I like to read novels because I want to know what’s going to happen next.

I write novels for the same reason.  I want to know how they turn out.

Often, I’m surprised by the turn of events in a story that I am telling.  If I can help it, I try not to know how things end up.  It keeps me interested in the story long enough to finish it.  Sometimes though, I have to write to an outline or I’m following real events or the nature of the work is too complex to leave it to chance.

Because of the style of the book I’m writing just now, I kind of have to know where I’m heading.  I don’t want to end up with some copout, train wreck, Lost-style ending.  So, I have to think of ways to keep the telling of the story fresh.  Otherwise I get too bored and before you know it, I’m shopping or looking at porn.

Success varies.

The computer is a huge challenge for me in this.  The very same tool I use to write offers distraction on an epic scale.  The excuse of checking the Email, or Facebook can drag me away from what I’m doing.  Just mentioning it, actually has me thinking I should switch over quickly now.

Once there, what else to check on? The temperature – my Google home page weather gadget actually offers current weather conditions, i.e. the temperature, as recorded at the park across the street.  Now I have a thermometer on my desk, next to me, but I can’t hardly keep typing this entry for wanting to see what the temp is at the park.

Recently, a friend told me about a “dating” site he likes.  Now I have long since lost interest in internet dating.  The idea is great, but the implicit resume building dishonesty of the process doesn’t really work for me.  On a dare from a friend, I joined Match.com in the last year or so.  I put up an un-retouched snap shot, told the truth about my age and myself and kissed fifty bucks good bye.  Not one single response to any of my attempted contacts and on the two occasions when someone spoke to me first, when I replied, they never did.

I’m not feeling sorry for myself here.  This is just the reality of a dating process where I’m in direct competition with professionally made porn and candid snaps of Zac Efron at the beach.  ( Just went to check the spelling of Zac’s name and found out that it’s 70.6 degrees across the street.)

Occasionally, because this truth kind of annoys me, I will create and post a fake ad offering up the fantasy that I know my peers are looking for.  The speed with which my inbox fills up is almost as dispiriting as the reality of my most recent online dating excursion.  Turning them all down is some consolation.

So anyway, I’m working on the new novel.  I check the temperature at the park and I remember this new dating site.  Well, it’s about time for a break.  I’ll just quickly check it out.

Now I have to tell you, my present concern is with my career.  Dating would be lovely, even if it was only for an hour, but that is not really a big concern for me.  Honestly, I’ve reached a point in my life where I’ve made peace with the fact that a love life is probably not in the cards for me.  If I didn’t have to pay rent I’d give up on the career too — though never on the writing.  But this site? Well, I’m on break.  I’ll just have a quick look.

Oh my God! They actually have people who are looking for a “date” listed by neighborhood and, in my case at least, street.  I’m sunk.  How can I not look to see who’s there?

And I was so richly rewarded! In addition to a number of people who I know and think are kind of yummy and who don’t acknowledge that they know I’m alive, there are some real finds.  I try to guess, based on the photo backgrounds, which buildings on my street these people inhabit.  There’s even a naked shot of a guy taken in MY LAUNDRY ROOM! I’m hooked.  It’s bad.

So, while I write I log on, just to see who’s there.  My profile is not flagrant.  It’s an old one with an older picture, enough to be intriguing without being clear or a slut about it.  I don’t respond or say anything to anyone — it’s more the dating-by-the-hour kind of site.  It’s fun, it feels a little naughty, a little like I’m getting away with something.  And then one morning, I see the profile of a guy I actually think sounds kind of great.  He seems a little too young for me, though he’s probably lying about that. Still, he’s kind of excellent.  And it’s a picture of his great smile, not some body part.  “Wouldn’t that be nice?” I think.  And I move on to one where I recognize one of the fireplaces from my building behind the action.

Then I get an Email from the guy with the great smile.

I’ll just check.

It’s charming.

I fight the urge to respond and lose.  I don’t flirt.  That’s not really why I’m on the site and my profile is only resume honest.  He’s smart and complimentary, flirty without the usual “what are you into?” kind of smarm.  He’s a professional.  He’s avoiding work, too.  He wants to buy me a drink.


So, I tell him the truth.  I tell him I’d like to meet him.  I tell him I’m not really serious about the site so my profile is not as forthcoming as it might be.  I tell him I’m interested, but I tell him what the resume omits. I give him the out since he didn’t actually get to ask me for coffee, it was a profile.  He never replies.


Now, I was not online to meet anyone.  I’ve given up on dating.  I was just avoiding working on my novel.  I only ever looked at the site because of the “geographic insights” that it offered.  And it DESTROYED me.  I was crushed.

The very thing that informs my interest in books, in movies, in TV and in writing is the thing that makes life almost unbearable.

It’s the not knowing that makes me turn the page.  But it’s the uncertainty the makes me avoid working on the book.  Is anyone going to like this one? Will I make a sale soon? What’s going to happen?

Hi, this is who I really am.  Would you still like to have that drink?

Maybe it’s the manageability of the revelations of storytelling that makes it preferable to the agony of the not knowing that is real life.  Still, it’s real life that so rarely surprises me.

Maybe I prefer fiction because I can’t predict the ending.

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