So we writers are generally a normal lot. No really! Yes, we talk to the voices in our heads. They’re characters, I swear! And yes, we spend hours staring into space and then claim we’re working. Imagination needs to be exercised! That takes time and chocolate. And last but not least, we envision in gruesome detail all sorts of murders, mayhem, and ugly things. But we also spend lots of time on the color and shape of fairy wings. And whether to spell that fairy or faery. (Or at least I do).
That is the writer in her normal balanced state. But sad to say, there is an alternate state, one my friend Eileen Dryer coined as DEADLINE PSYCHOSIS! That is when a deadline approaches and we have half the book to write in a month. Or less. Like a weekend. Yes, I actually knew an author who had one weekend to write half her book. She got it in and it was great, though it took her another few days to come off her caffeine high.
So what characterizes this dread disease? It begins with subtle symptoms. Any email that comes in is ignored or dealt with in the most expedient manner. It’s easy to delete ads, but what about that pesky insurance form? Give it to your 4 year old to fill out. It’ll be good practice for him. This symptom advances to the people who interrupt your writing time. Yes, I had this conversation (more or less) with my daughter:
“Mom, can I borrow the car?”
“But you promised. You said…”
“Fine. Take the car, gas it up, and pick up groceries.”
“I don’t have time! I don’t have the money!”
“Go into my purse, take whatever you need, and LEAVE ME ALONE!”
According to my husband, she was gone for two days. I didn’t notice.
The next thing that happens is that my desk gets buried with stuff I don’t want to deal with. Mail, children’s toys, laundry, last night’s pizza–it’s all there. Then it starts migrating to the floor in a circle barrier around my desk chair. Right now, I have a collection of cardboard boxes of various shapes and sizes laying haphazardly between my chair and the door. Why? I have no freaking idea, but I don’t have time to deal with them. So there they sit like my castle walls.
My husband no longer says hello and good-bye to me when he leaves. He peeks his head in and if he sees me typing or staring or snarling he just leaves. He used to try to gently kiss me on the head, but then I nailed him with an elbow to the groin. Now he just goes. Same for when he returns home. Though he will occasionally breech my castle walls with a plate carrying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or (even better) a mug of coffee. He’s bringing me food, so I don’t rip off his arm at the elbow, but there are times when it’s close.
Fortunately, he knows that eventually the book will finish. The beast will emerge from her lair and take a shower. The dishes will get cleaned and the office fumigated. And all will be right with the world. Until the next time…
So now it’s your turn. Ever hurt the one you love in the midst of a deadline? Accidentally wash the dog in the washing machine? Or if you haven’t just say “I don’t suffer from your madness. I hope you recover soon.”
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