May 3, 2013 – Being Invisible
If I were to choose a superpower and Flying was already taken I’d probably choose Invisibility. This would be a helpful talent to have as a writer and I’d call what I did Observing not Spying. It’d also come in useful when I needed to get my work done. If people can’t see me they can’t interrupt. See, my problem is that I create enough of my own distractions without having a constant stream of interpersonal interactions pulling at my attention. Chitchatting with my library buddy Dave, having entertaining and meaningful conversations with my siblings and sibling-in-law, and the omnipresent joy of being bossed into dancing by a niece all add up to minutes and hours that I’m not writing. I fret about it. So much so that the health benefit of having strong social and familial connections is lost on me as I stress out over my inability to focus.
Why can’t you just BE? I ask myself. Why do you have to DO?
I don’t know, I reply. I just have to.
My writerly angst becomes chronic and I activate my superpower and disappear. What I actually do is get in the car with my parents and drive away from the Hill Country to their house in Dallas. I sit in the back seat of my mom’s car and think, I’ve done it. I’ve done what I’ve always thought of as my last resort; I’ve moved back in with parents. Of course it’s not a permanent situation, of course my parents are more like friends, of course I’ll be helping out—working one day a week with my mom and fixing healthy dinners for us all—so that I am not a lazy, non-working slob. My real goal is to hide out in the safe confines of their house (out of sight and out of mind) so that I can save up some money, figure out my next adventure, see if I can get healthy again and, most of all, finish the first draft of the novel I’m laboring over.
I’m a project oriented soul. I like to have a goal, set a deadline, and then work hard until I’ve met it. Then take a short break and dive into the next thing. This often means long hours alone, set routines, and a rigorous work-writing schedule that I stick to rain, sleet, snow, hail or shine. I haven’t had any of those things since I left Oregon in early December and it’s wearing on me. I’m jittery, emotional, unfulfilled and having more than my usual amount of conversations with myself.
Why are you such a basket case?
You make me sound neurotic.
My project: a new book. My goal: a first draft. The deadline: April 30th.
Since the first of the year I’ve been working nearly every day writing a handful of sentences one day, deleting them the next, rewriting them the day after. But it’s not fast enough. I get diverted by modeling gigs, chicken farming, family excursions into town, birthday parties, lack of sleep, too much sleep, and worry about my future. I want big results. I want to see real progress. I want to dive in completely and lose myself in the story. Full immersion isn’t possible with so many moths and vultures and neighbors and dogs and falling leaves and meals to sidetrack my mind.
What I want is six months of reclusive confinement in a mountain cabin or a biosphere on Mars. I began to dream about closets, small spaces, and solitude. The closest thing I can get to that right now is the guest room at my parents and a spot at the kitchen table for my computer and stacks of books, but only if I tell no one I’m coming.
This is the tricky part.
I have long-time friends and family in the Dallas area. If word gets out I’m there I fear that I’ll fall back into what I’m trying to escape; visits, parties, hang-outs, family lunches, events. I want to be there, but not be there. To hide away and not hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t know if it’s possible. I don’t know if meeting my own needs (however neurotic) is selfish.
“We can get you disguises!” Mom tells me.
I imagine myself sneaking out of the house with gag glasses with a fake nose and mustache. Or a trench coat. Or a cape. Or a wig. That’s if I leave the house at all. I don’t see myself getting stir crazy for a while. My mom’s backyard is paradise, their home a haven.
We arrive at the house. The dogs greet me enthusiastically, I greet them back. I look around the house I spent so much of my life in already. Welcome back, take your shoes off, stay awhile. It’s cozy, friendly, bright.
I got it. I will.
Dad goes to the store to get us some groceries, Mom goes out to check on her garden, and I unpack my bags, go incognito, and get to work.