Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Distractions (again)

When I get the bit between my teeth, I can be remorselessly single-minded. Forget sleeping, eating, cleaning, walking dogs, essential bodily functions, when I'm in the zone, my concentration is total. Words tumble from my brain, through the keys and onto the screen as fast as my brachyphalangic fingers can stumble. Sometimes they come so fast that they flood out through my eyes, nose and ears like Ebola. It's not pleasant, but it can be productive.

The corollary of this is that when I'm not in the zone, I'm a complete gadfly.* I can't settle on any one thing for long, constantly ditting from a bit of short story writing, to that report that needs editing, to a new database design, to that big pile of unread comics, to books three and four in the long-gestating Ballad of Sir Benfro series. Sometimes I can be sitting at my desk and realise that I've stopped what I was supposed to be doing and have been rolling the pot with the drawing pins in it around in my hand for several minutes. Or I've picked up a cheap ballpoint and dismantled it (usually covering my hands in ink in the process).

This afternoon is a case in point. Since starting to type this entry at around half past two, I've read a couple of comics, catalogued a few more, printed out and amended a few minor things on my short story (soon, Sandra, soon), had a look at the Gateway Wales report and abandoned it as a bad lot, taken the dachshund for a walk, tried to track down a UK supplier of Buderim Ginger Refresher Mixer, answered some emails, ignored a few more and scribbled down some ideas for Benfro book four. Focus? Someone's smeared Vaseline all over the lens.

Some of it is options paralysis, or at least that's my excuse. When there are several different demands on my time, I often end up doing nothing at all, quite unable to make a decision as to what to tackle first. Right now I am gearing up for a busy weekend and an even busier next week, travelling north for Mr Stuart's book launch.** Both are distractions pulling me away from the here and now and what I really ought to be doing.

Which, given that it's now half past six, is probably something supper related, rather than blogging.

I'll find that discipline again sometime. If I can just avoid any distractions whilst I'm looking.

* I always thought of a gadfly as something that flits from place to place, never settling anywhere long. According to my dictionary though, it's a small biting insect, and so figuratively a constant irritant. This isn't my intended meaning, but I can't think of the word for a creature that never stays anywhere long. Can you?
** Not that I'm trying to blame Mr Stuart for my own inadequacies.

9 Comments:

Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

A creature that never stays anywhere long?

The average single man?

(Ducking and running far far away...)

April 19, 2006 7:34 pm  
Blogger Trace said...

LOL Sandra!

James, I SO know what you're talking about. I'm there right now, unable to focus on anything for long. It sucks being like this. But it'll pass eventually. It always does, right?

April 19, 2006 8:22 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Sure it does, Trace. It... Oh, look, a bee!

April 19, 2006 10:06 pm  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

I thought about closing the net and get some writing done at 9 pm. It's 0.30 am now.

April 19, 2006 10:28 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

I try to turn off the net, but it sings to me like a siren. Perhaps I should ask the Horse Doctor to take the modem away to work with her.

April 19, 2006 10:57 pm  
Blogger Vincent said...

I'm sure it's no coincidence I now do most of my writing on my laptop, which isn't hooked up to the net.

April 20, 2006 8:37 am  
Blogger JamesO said...

And most of your net-surfing at work, Vincent?

April 20, 2006 8:50 am  
Blogger Stuart MacBride said...

Butterfly. They're not known for their staying power.

Oh, and Mr Phil says he can't come to the launch (prior booking), so you're going to have to be the one wearing the cranachan this year, OK?

April 20, 2006 1:48 pm  
Blogger JamesO said...

Ah, but I'll have the Horse Doctor with me this time, and she's short too. She can wear the cranachan. I'll stick with the food poisoning;}#

April 20, 2006 2:04 pm  

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