Writus Interruptus

In my opinion, the toughest obstacle writers have to overcome is the interruption. Think about the challenges writers face every day. Blank page? No problem. Wooden dialog? Easy fix. Three telephone calls in ten minutes? Train wreck. When I get interrupted, I sometimes have trouble getting back on track, so whenever an interruption occurs, I have to go through a mental calculus of sorts, before I take my fingers away from the keyboard.

A lot of potential interruptions, like the telephone, can be ignored. For example, I don’t feel bad about ignoring machine-dialed political polling calls. On the other hand, if She Who Must Be Obeyed calls, I had better pick up. Or else. (I suppose that if had an agent, I would be sure to pick up, as it would be in my best interest to do so.)

With other interruptions, I have to do what the military calls “Honoring the Threat.” If the family dog bounds up to me, leash in her mouth and whining, I had best honor the threat and take her outside, otherwise the term “deep pile carpeting” gets a whole new meaning. Same thing with kids and “my tummy hurts.” Ignore THAT one at your own peril! Once you have your list of Stuff You Better Not Ignore If You Want a Clean House, life is pretty straight forward.

The in-between interruptions are the toughest. My oldest warming up something in the microwave after school MIGHT be a problem. Or it might not. Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to get up and check the darn microwave, because if you ask the kid what he’s doing, you’ll either be ignored or told, “nothing.” Television is another issue. Technically, it’s a distraction, not an interruption. It becomes an interruption when repeated requests to turn it down are ignored, and you have to stop what you’re doing, get up and turn it down yourself, as no sane person could possibly write anything that makes sense while The Simpsons are blaring in the background. Right?

The best way to avoid interruptions? Writing at 5AM or 11PM- while all the “normal” people are sleeping- seems to work the best.

This post was interrupted 6 times while it was being written.



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