It’s been forever since I’ve posted, which makes me feel bad about myself because I used to post much more frequently. On the other hand, I’ve been working on my book and that has taken up all my time and energy. Writing a novel is all-consuming in that it becomes the only thing you think about morning, noon, and night. It’s like having an obsessive crush on someone who feels only Meh about you. If they show you any positive attention, you’re on top of the world (much like one feels when writing goes well), but most of the time, they could care less about you, leaving you feeling unfulfilled and frustrated (much like one feels when they think what they wrote that day stinks, or they haven’t written a single word at all).

I’m not going to lie. It’s freaking tough to write when you’re a single parent. My writing needs to be done while the boy is at school or it doesn’t get done. I remember reading an article about Jacquelyn Mitchard, the author of The Deep End of the Ocean whose husband’s sudden death left her needing to come up with a way to support her kids. She wrote that book sitting at the kitchen table with her kids running all over the place, amidst chaos and confusion.

So I tried it the other night. Writing amidst chaos and confusion. I sat my ass on the couch, Friends reruns on the TV, with my son sitting next to me, constantly interrupting to show me asinine YouTube videos he finds hilarious. The fact that I was trying to write a sex scene is neither here nor there. I wrote 2 sentences and then gave up. Even now, while writing this, the boy is in his room, blasting rap music and shouting at his Xbox. I know I’ll be lost once he gets older and moves out, but at the moment, it’s a picture this lover of peace and quiet is having a hard time imagining.

Sometimes novels and all the research that goes in to them are wonderful for self-realization. One of my main characters is bipolar, so I’ve done a crapload of research on bipolar disorder, only to come to realize I’m 99% sure my father is bipolar, which is why he’s been such an insane asshole all these years. Not that people with bipolar disorder are insane assholes, but left untreated and choosing to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol, a lot of their behavior is very asshole-y.

You would think I’d have some revelatory A-ha moment and feel sorry for him for having an illness he can’t help, but I don’t. Truth is, he’s known he’s had a mood disorder for many, many years. God knows his entire family has told him as much. But when he went to his Beverly Hills physician years ago to discuss his “possible” mood disorder, the doctor excused it by telling him he was simply a Type-A personality and intense, and every Type-A person was like that.

He came home so proud after that, like a peacock strutting his colorful feathers, because he had gotten validation from a “physician to the stars,” and therefore, he didn’t have no stinking problem. Hey, here’s a heads up. When family and friends don’t want to be around you more often than not, if your moods go up and down like the strength tester game at the county fair, if your wife threatens to leave you every time you go through a particularly intolerable heinous period, then you got a stinking problem!

But it’s not my problem anymore, plus I’m out of the will anyway.

So, what else is going on? Well, I’m still single. I tried dating someone casually, but that didn’t work out too well. I went in to it stating, “I don’t want a serious relationship” (meaning You will never be my priority), but he took it as, “I hear what you’re saying, but I will eventually wear you down.” Ah, men and their love of challenges. I get it though. The first (and last) time I pursued something with a man who, straight off the bat said, and I quote: “I don’t want a relationship,” I completely ignored those words, too. Because after all, who wouldn’t want a relationship with me? I’m fabulous.

Turned out he did in fact want a relationship. Just not with me. He ended up marrying my son’s elementary school principal, and is now happily living in an all-White neighborhood where everyone makes six-figures (despite him being a tatted-up Hispanic custodian).

Anyhoo, back to this guy. After a few dates, he said to me, “I’m wearing you down, aren’t I? Tell me you’re not falling for me just a little bit” to which I responded in all my blunt honesty (since I don’t know how to be any other way), “I’m really not, and I meant what I said from the get-go.”

But he still kept at it. The situation reminded me of Gary Larson’s Far Side cartoon: What we say to dogs versus What they hear. The owner points to his dog, saying “Okay, Ginger! I’ve had it! You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger? Stay out of the garbage, or else!” But the dog only hears, “blah blah Ginger blah blah blah blah blah Ginger blah blah blah…”

So, since we always seem to refer to men as dogs, I’m guessing what this guy heard was pretty much the same thing.

In all fairness to him he dodged a bullet, because I’m certainly no prize. I have my hands full with an ADD son who randomly sneaks up and attacks me much like Cato does with Inspector Clouseau in The Pink Panther movies, which has turned me in to a woman “on the edge” at all times, a 6-year-old diva dog who still pisses on the one remaining carpet whenever she feels like it, and a bulimic cat.

Then there’s me who, while you’re talking, is thinking about how to solve that plot problem, instead of listening to you.


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“When writing a novel, that’s pretty much entirely what life turns into: House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.”

-Neil Gaiman

It’s so true. When working on a novel, I have to be completely immersed in that world, almost all the time. When I’m not writing the novel, I’m thinking about the novel. While I’m cooking, driving, about to go to sleep.

I’ve had to learn to write with many distractions. I don’t prefer it. I wasn’t the type of student who was able to do her homework with the TV and music blaring at the same time. I need silence to hear my thoughts and form my ideas.

Silence doesn’t happen very often where I live. Either my diva Chihuahua is barking at every falling leaf outside, or the neighbor’s parrot is laughing and screaming, “F*ck you!” in Spanish.

When my son has his friends over to play video games in his room, I use that time to write. With my son occupied, I figure he’ll be out of my hair for a time. But pre-teen boys tend to be boys with foul mouths, and soon I hear words coming out of their little mouths, like Bitch and Faggot, and common sense tells me I should go and reprimand them (Never discipline from your chair, the kid-rearing books say. Always get your ass up, go over to the child and look them in the eye.), but if I’m in the middle of a thought, all they get is a “HEY!” yelled from my seat.

It will always be something. If you allow life to taunt you with the 1001 distractions it has to offer daily, you will never get that novel or blog post or article written, and then really, what is your purpose in life? When you allow procrastination to rear its ugly head (as I am prone to do), what do you wind up with? Dishes washed and laundry done, perhaps…but no words on the page.

And that can make a writer very, very cranky. If you’re one of those writers who waits for everything to be perfect before you can sit down to write, expect to fail. Waiting for inspiration to strike? Expect to fail. As soon as the kids are grown, you’ll write? You’ll only be that much closer to death.

To quote one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, “To be a writer is a decision and a habit.”

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around this concept. I wrote my second novel while working full-time as an office manager. When business was slow, I wrote. It was either that or surf porn sites. I came in to an office five days a week, sat in front of a computer at the same time each day, and wrote.

Trying to write my third novel from home bites. I almost wish I had an office to go to these days, with nothing but four blank walls and a laptop. The self-discipline it takes for me to sit my butt down in a chair when, more often than not, I haven’t the faintest idea where my WIP is heading is pure torture. If I don’t make myself do it, I’m a witch for the rest of the day. If I manage to shoot off a page or two, I’m like a girl in love: I can step in dog shit and still go skipping down the street with a smile on my face.