I’m back to chasing the cursor. Once, it was the blank page that challenged me, waiting for the graphite or ink to be spread over it in symbols that could be sounded out into meaningful patterns. Now, it’s the cursor flying across the screen, sometimes backward to correct an errant finger, but mostly onward, ever onward. I could stop. Really I could. I have written less and less as I’ve chosen to focus on career, family, and even my garden over the writing. I could stop entirely and I’m not really sure anyone other than me would notice. Perhaps that’s the right thing to do. Time is fleeting every day, and I have only so much more time to spend with my children as they stretch their wings – oh, I know it won’t be gone forever, but when they return briefly it will never be the same. I only have so much time with my First Reader, and I have stories I want to tell him before he’s gone beyond helping me plot them out. It’s difficult to justify the time spent attempting to write, though, knowing that I only have a little time here before it’s all done and the writing must stop, perforce.
If I stop and re-read that, letting the cursor pause on the screen, it looks melancholy, but I have been happier than it sounds. I have been enjoying living, being in the moment, spending the time with ones I love doing things that are fun, or necessary, or vital to the goals we have as a family. This leaves little time, and less mental energy, for indulging in propelling the elusive cursor across the page and leaving words in its wake. Doing so requires me to spend time in a world elsewhere, and I’m reluctant to go there for long. Because I am happy here. I don’t need to escape into my head. There’s a balance. I seek it always.
I have a tendency to over-focus. When I start a project, I go all-in. My children tease me that they will ask me a question, when I am writing or creating art, and it will take me twenty minutes to answer. It’s not that I don’t hear them, they tell me, it’s just like their words took a long time to plink through the gears of my brain and then for my words to navigate back up to the surface and be spoken. I can’t always indulge in that kind of distraction from life. The ability to hyper-focus is both a blessing and a curse. It means that if I am caught up in what I’m doing, bombs could go off and not disturb my flow. But it also means that I don’t catch things I need to know about, like giving someone lunch money, or planning a birthday in advance.
That’s part of the reason I have almost stopped reading. When I really enjoy a book, I can step into it and close a mental door behind me, reveling in this world an author has created for my enjoyment. But if I do that, I am taking time away from things that Must Be Done around the house, work, or family. So I refrain from indulging unless I have the time to spare. Or more often, I read books that don’t affect me like that, like non-fiction for research or homework (looks over at the book on Six Sigma weighing down my desk). I have to make choices. I’ve never been one to come home and sit in front of the television, so it’s not like I have the time to squeeze out to get more done in. I come home, try to do housework – or garden, or run kids on errands – and in the remaining time I grab a bite to eat, make art, and stare at the mocking blinking cursor while telling myself I really must write. I must. If I don’t, all the momentum I created in the early days of writing novels will be lost. I… must…
And that is when I cannot. I simply stare at it, and my brain is fatigued, and there’s no door to open in my mind, it’s just a blank wall of mist with perhaps sometimes a glimpse of something there, that might be a story. Editing? Impossible with the limited pieces of time I can scrape out of my daily routine. The accidental novel languishes because I simply haven’t got the brain to spare for it. I have so many projects I want to do, but time slips through my fingers like water, and the passage wears me to the bone.
So at the end of this, I’m watching the cursor blink on and off, in relentless entreaty. Chase me. Follow me with words. Keep me moving, and never let me stop, it says. Only I can. I can close the file, shut down the device I’m writing on, and walk away. I have other things to do.
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