My distractions can usually be sorted into two primary categories: controllable and uncontrollable. And the funny thing is each seems to have its own cause/effect catalyst. If I’m on a deadline, but the right words for a particular scene seem to be locked away in some obscure vault in my brain that I can’t gain access to, the controllable distractions arrive…
–The dust bunny in the corner of the room that has to be cleaned NOW.
–The email that has to be answered NOW
–The dog that has to be fed NOW (although I fed him two hours ago)
–The google search for a premise I’m considering for a future book that has to be done NOW
–The paperwork on my desk that needs straightening NOW
–The search for a new ink pen (that fits better in my hand than the 30 others on my desk) that has to be done NOW.
If I’m cranking out words at a pretty decent pace, my brain solidly planted in a scene, fingers flying across the computer keyboard, that’s when the uncontrollable distractions come. And they usually come from people…
The phone rings—one of my daughter’s has a flat tire, and she’s frantic. If the tire isn’t fixed NOW, she’ll be late for her workout at the gym. And since she doesn’t know how to fix a flat, (and has suddenly lost the ability to search for a tire repair service in the phone book) needs me to find someone to fix it NOW.
A knock on the door—one of my managers sticks his/her head into my office to let me know we’re out of toilet paper in both bathrooms and that they’re heading to the store to get some. Oh, of course they preempt the announcement of that catastrophe with, “Are you busy?”
Intercom on the phone buzzes—new secretary announces I have a call on line four…
“Who is it?”
“Uh . . .hold on.” Two seconds later, she buzzes again. “He said his name is Jim.”
Eye roll. “And Jim is with . . .?”
“He didn’t say.”
Teeth gritting now. “Would you find out, please? If it’s a solicitor, I’m unavailable.” (She’s only been told this a gazillion times.)
“Okay.” Three seconds later another buzz. “He says he’s returning your call.”
Frowning. I haven’t called anyone named Jim and asked for a return call. So I enunciate…..”Would—you—please—find—out—what—company—he’s—with?”
“Okay.” Another couple of seconds. “He says he’s with AIC.”
“Uh—he didn’t say.”
Another eye roll. Instead of going another round with the new secretary, I pick up the blinking line.
“This is Deborah.”
“Hello, Deborah, how are you today?”
Teeth gritting again. A solicitor. They always start their pitch this way. “Fine. How may I help you?”
“My name is Jim, and I’m with Aflac Insurance Company. Is it hot down there in Louisiana today?”
CLICK–I hang up the phone and have to go find the manager responsible for the new secretary’s training….NOW.