If Only I Had Time to Write

I love making lists. I’d go so far as to say that lists are the Mean Girls in my life, who, rather than going away after graduation, continue to stick around and torment me. You know, if you’re a list maker, how it goes. They lure you in with promises that you’ll be a better version of yourself if you stick with them, that you’ll be successful, maybe even famous someday! Then, they turn on you on a dime when you inevitably get distracted. That’s when they call you names and remind you that you’re nothing without them, making you begin to question the very meaning of your existence. All because you wanted to hang out with Netflix and a bowl of macaroni and cheese instead of your lists.

            As you can imagine, keeping up with the complexities of my lists (the housecleaning lists are particularly cliquey and refuse to associate with the writing lists) takes a lot of time.

I’m not making excuses, I promise! Here is an all-too-typical cascade of events that will prove I am too busy to write. Read it, and you’ll agree that no one could finish a respectable manuscript with this level of chaos…

  • I’m all set to have a great writing day, but something keeps setting off the motion detector on the Ring Cam, so I have to continually check it from my laptop to make sure it’s just a squirrel at the door rather than a masked intruder.
  • Now that I’m distracted, I may as well spend a few minutes on Pinterest. My “I Miss the 80s” board could use a few more pins.
  • As I’m typing away at my keyboard, I can’t help but notice my chipping nail polish. That’s a big pet peeve of mine, so I remove the old polish and slap on a quick coat of “Strawberry Wine,” which reminds me that the strawberries in my crisper will rot if I don’t get rid of them.
  • The pet hamster we keep at our house for our granddaughter likes his fruit cut into bite-sized pieces, so it takes a few extra minutes to cut up the strawberries, but I can tell he appreciates the effort when he politely takes the pieces from me with his cute little hands.
  • When I pass through the living room, I notice that my bookshelves are messy, and a respectable author would make sure the situation was corrected swiftly and discreetly.
  • After seeing how pretty the newly organized shelves are, I’m reminded of the crazy husband in Sleeping with the Enemy, and how he demanded Julia Roberts’ character front-face all the canned goods in her kitchen cupboards. The man was a tyrant, but after all, it sort of makes sense to have the labels all clearly visible, right?
  • Now, back at my desk and ready to write, I can’t concentrate when the bearded dragon (also a pet we house for our granddaughter) is judging me. Wait, she’s not judging me. Our eyes just so happened to meet while she was in position to poop. Great. Now, I have to stop writing because the terrarium needs wiping out.
  • My husband, with whom I share a workspace, is making himself an afternoon coffee. Even though I dislike coffee, an oversized mug with steam artistically drifting out of the top of it always seems like such a cozy accompaniment for a writer. He just sat down, and I hate to make him get back up. I’ll fix it for myself. Oh, but the water reservoir is almost empty. Judging from its looks, my mug will come up short, and nothing is worse than too-strong coffee. I better add some water.
  • Now the doorbell is ringing. I’d check the Ring Cam to see who’s there, but the batteries were dying earlier, so we put them on the charger. That means the camera is out of order at the moment. I go downstairs to answer the door, and it’s a very sincere man named Caspian, who offers to cut down the trees in my yard, which I’ve been desperately wanting to do since our house is in perpetual midnight from the overabundance of shade the pines give off. Caspian is free to come back Tuesday, and it’s a date.
  • On my way back upstairs, I see a stray sock on the steps that must have fallen from a laundry basket. Dirty or clean? I refuse to smell it, but I err on the side of caution and take it into the laundry room, where I see a week’s worth of dirty clothes. May as well throw a load in the washing machine. Wait, I never cleared out the last load, and you know what that means. By the time all the loads are where they need to be, I hit “Start” on the washing machine and am feeling quite annoyed.  
  • Ice cream. That is the only solution to this kind of frustration. I yell up and ask my husband if he wants a bowl. It seems the considerate thing to do. “What a great idea!” he calls down.
  • He clocks out of work and lumbers down the stairs, warning me of rain in an hour. Better eat our dessert outside, he says. Enjoy the nice weather while we still can.
  • As we’re scraping our bowls, here comes our granddaughter, who lives next door and wants to give the bearded dragon a bath. And, by the way, do we have any more ice cream?
  • By now, you must certainly know that the dragon’s tub of water spills on the rug, so I have to get one of my freshly laundered towels to sop it up.
  • While doing that, my husband replaces the batteries in the Ring Cam, which are now done charging.
  • When our granddaughter goes home, I get back to my laptop, ready to write. My margins are set, and the spacing is correct. I tab over to begin a new paragraph, and then…
  • We get an alert that something has set off the motion detector again on our Ring Cam.

The thing is, I do want to write. I love writing! I love talking about writing, daydreaming about writing, researching “How to Write Well” online, and watching videos where authors give talks about their writing process.

But when it comes time to write, there’s always ice cream that will get freezer burned if we don’t finish it up or a knock on the door from our Shirley Temple lookalike granddaughter, who’s ready for Storytime. There is a plane wreck that’s made national news or a severe weather warning, which necessitates bringing in the patio cushions. There is a too-full trash can or too-empty box of tissues that need replacing. My husband has a joke (and he’s a funny guy, so there are lots of them) to share, or he’s asking if we have any of that lasagna left from dinner on Sunday night. I get up to check, and while it’s in the microwave, I take Tylenol because my back hurts. When I notice the spots on the bathroom mirror, I’m appalled. Well, who just cleans the mirror and leaves the rest of the bathroom in squalor? So, what do you do? You put on rubber gloves and start cleaning, and just when you’re elbow-deep in your toilet bowl…there goes the Ring Cam alert again.