The Author Avoidant

Everyone gets distracted, but some people seek distraction.

I sit down in front of my computer with every intention of writing out another 3,000 words for this week. That's the goal—get my 3,000 words written and move on with life. I already have a draft of how the story goes, I know what the next steps are, but I can't take them. I sit here, staring at the screen for what feels like an hour and hardly even touch the keyboard, save to smash my fingers into keys producing gibberish.

My throat is dry, suddenly, I find myself parched. It's a short trip to the kitchen. I grab my coffee cup, fill it with ice, draw tap water from the sink, and reach into the refrigerator for a slice of lemon. Ice—I can't drink tap water without ice! I turn about immediately, pour my cup out, go to the freezer, and pull a tray of ice cubes free from its chilling depths. There are only six left in the tray. Each one plinks noisily into the bottom of my cup as I empty the tray of its precious frozen liquid. One ice tray isn't enough, why aren't there more?

Oh, but there are! I open the cabinet above the counter and find five—no wait—six ice trays. Five of them have an odd design though, unlike the one already on the counter. Well, I can't just use all the trays willy-nilly, what if some aren't ours? I go to the back of the house to question my wife about these mysterious trays.

Ah, they are her cousin's, the housemate's trays. Well, I'll just put those back. I'll need to spend a moment reorganizing the cabinet, of course, to get them to fit just right. There, back to filling my two ice trays and returning them to the frigid depths. At last I can fill my coffee cup—now half-full of ice—with that disgusting tap again. A lemon wedge comes begrudgingly from the bag of wedges in the fridge, and at last, my drink is prepared.

I take a long, refreshing sip of lemon water. Yes, exactly what I needed. I return to my computer and stare at the screen again for a few minutes.

“Well,” I say to no one in particular, “That may be the best tap water I've ever had, but it's not helping me write.”

What is distracting me? My stomach grumbles, of course. I must be hungry. Oh, it's nearly 5:30, it's time to begin preparing dinner anyway. I shove my chair away from the computer, return to the kitchen, and begin preparations. Slabs of chicken have been thawing all day. I set to work cutting them into slivers, drop them in one heap into the pan and begin the slow process of frying and seasoning them.

Tacos. It was always tacos lately. Maybe tomorrow I could grill the chicken. Of course, that would require me to clean the grill tonight. It hadn't been cleaned in quite a while—probably not since last summer. Of course, if we were to grill, she would probably want to eat outside as well. We didn't go into the backyard much; it's a mess. The grass in the back has been untended since we went to California in September. We could eat outside if I were to clean up the yard a bit, make it look presentable. Yes, I'll have to do that.

We sit down to dinner together. There's some need for conversation at dinner, there's always want for conversation, but at a table it seems necessary, so I express my uncertainty.

“There's no inspiration,” I explain. “I know what to write, I just don't know how to write it.”

She nods, understandingly, swallowing a bite of her taco she says, “It'll come to you. You're brilliant.”

Yes, well, reassurances of capability are hardly professions from a muse. But she's certainly right; it must come to me. A few more idle conversations come and go as we help ourselves to seconds. School, recording, more writing, the much needed yard work. At last, we're done. She has more middle english to read and I have a novel to write.

I return to my computer desk. Maybe a change of scenery—I unplug my laptop, carry it over to the recliner, and plop down into the soft cushions. There, that's better. I open up a word processor. It's time, I'm certain of it. I merely have to let the words flow from my mind to my fingers and onto the page. Oh, but I do probably need to clean out the automatic vacuum before I forget.

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