Do any of you have this issue? You go to your bedroom, den, small corner of the house to write and mere minutes later someone is next to you pulling on your leg, asking you to help them with something, or simply standing there to randomly chat about something mundane? This is my writing life. I have done nothing the past month but beg and plead with my family for personal space and I simply can not get it. And frankly, I don’t think it’s fair that the only way for me to get it, is to leave the house.
The usual intrusion is when I am in my bedroom with the door shut and the family knows just fifteen minutes before I went inside to write. It is usually at this point someone walks into my room “to get something in a drawer” or “just use the bathroom” (uh, there are two others in the house) or “just to ask a quick question” that they already know the answer to. And then, they have the gall to get mad at me when I get mad at them for intruding. They really think “it’s no big deal – come on, you can just start again when I leave!”
I won’t lie – I’m starting to go postal when this happens. I get this intense frustration that no one respects what I’m doing in the least. The fact is, maybe they really don’t get it. Is what we’re doing just too intangible for them to comprehend? Do they think all we do is sit at a computer and make up stuff? Do they think it’s not hard? I’ve tried to explain that every single time I’m interrupted, for whatever reason, I’ve irrevocably lost that particular train of thought that I was striving for. I tried to explain it this way:
Let’s say you’re watching a football game for two hours straight and I walk in front of the television screen RIGHT at the crucial moment the field goal kicker, with zero seconds left to the game, is attempting to make the final winning kick. I blocked your view and you completely missed the kick and what happened. That adrenaline rush you had is GONE. Does that mean you can’t rewind the tape/moment and watch it again? Of course it does, but that feeling you had has disappeared, never to be recovered.
It’s like that for authors, but worse. We are not just typing, we are writing and it’s absolutely destructive to us when you interrupt. The “infinite” number of outcomes that could have happened, had we not been interrupted, is GONE. NEVER, EVER, EVER to be reclaimed the same way again. The difference between us and a taped sports game though is this: That game, no matter how many times you rewind and replay the tape, that game will ALWAYS have the same ending. BUT, when you interrupt a writer, that outcome becomes an impossibility. You will never have the same outcome you would have had moments before.
One of my very good author friends said it this way: “We have to enter something called ‘headspace.’ We have to call up our fictional worlds and enter them. That’s not a trivial task. It takes effort, and time, and when the process is interrupted, it must be restarted.” Not to mention coming down from the sheer frustration and anger we have to then calm down enough to start writing again.
My husband came in yesterday with a sign he purchased from a store. One of those big, red, restaurant/store signs that say “Come in, we’re open” on one side and “Sorry, we’re closed” on the other. He wants me to tape it to the door every time I’m writing so they physically know to stay away.
I guess a verbal declaration and a closed door is not enough – we need a sign, too. But hey, I’ll give it a try. Oh, it’s been fifteen minutes… is that a knock on the door?