Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Whoa is me...

Do you ever wonder how we manage to stay sane, to actually write something coherent and/or even think about plot lines when there's all this crazy LIFE stuff happening? My husband has crowned me the Queen of Overcommitment. With blithe insouciance I say, "Of course, I'll be glad to help." So now, I'm the Retreat Chair for my chapter which wrapped up a week ago (but is still lingering in the stacks of stuff in my laundry room,) then I took snacks to my son's ball team Sunday, we had company for Sunday dinner after the game, and foolishly I cooked instead of ordering pizza; and that was just this weekend. It doesn't even begin to cover all the stuff that needs to be done in the house. Yikes. Laundry. Changing light bulbs that have burnt out one by one until it is now pitch dark in the bathroom (now I HAVE to do it.) Planting stuff in the garden.

Yeah, right. That'll happen.

Somehow, though, in the midst of the craziness of being the homework Nazi, chief cook and bottle washer, laundress extraordinaire, and the other stuff I do and get paid for, I still write. I can't NOT write. It's just there lurking, like malaria. I'd like to say I'm organized, that I schedule time to write and somehow, like Martha Stewart, I get it all done brilliantly and with a bow tied neatly on top. Sure. Right. In this lifetime? I don't think so.

The characters or ideas show up and I ignore the fact that there are no clean socks for baseball practice, and I give up on the chicken I'd thawed for dinner. I lose myself in the world I've created, playing with the characters in my head. Then there's the villain. Don't you just love the villain? I do. I get to use all the snarky things I wish I could say to the clerk or the car repairman or the guy who cut me off in traffic. Since I can't in good conscience shoot anyone for being an idiot in traffic, I get to dispose of their body in an undisclosed location in the pages of my book. I also burn all his or her laundry and trash their car. I've even done away with my ex-husband three or four times, in various creative, sometimes heinous, ways. Excellent therapy. Oh, and did I mention I leave absolutely no clue or forensic evidence?

Hehehe. Works for me.

What's your therapy for the mundane "must do's, but hate to do 'em's"? If you're a writer, does your villain come from life and the news or from all your own frustrations? You know my deep dark secret...tell me yours...

11 comments:

Caren Crane said...

Ooh, Jeanne, I love this one! I am not someone who, normally, remembers slights or the dude in traffic or whatever. Often, I don't even notice slights. It's true. My family calls me a "non-noticer" and I claim it unabashedly. However, the very, very few people in the world who get under my skin really get under my skin. I love to cast those people as antagonists in my books. Then I get to make them as horrible as they are in my mind and they get to either be reformed (if they're lucky) or get their just desserts (if I'm so inclined). The power, the power! Bwahahahaha....

Anna Sugden said...

Great post, Duchesse de Overcommitment.

'Stay' sane? After explaining to a non-writing friend that I hear voices and that's how my characters start (she didn't call the men in white coats) I wonder if all writers are a little insane *grin*.

As for hated household tasks - I find them an amazing unblocker for that stubborn elusive muse! Amazing how quickly inspiration arises when you have to clean the bathroom.

I don't have villains as such in my books ... but I have been known to create characters who are easy to dislike ... and I get my inspiration for them from real life.

Caren Crane said...

I have to admit, Jeanne, that I am also a Queen of Overcommitment. I have learned to say NO on occasion, but like you, find it so easy to say yes. I like saying yes. It pleases me to help other people. So, I often find myself with loads of dreaded tasks to do. For the things I merely resent, I usually make it interesting by listening to my iPod, changing my attitude and viewing the whole thing as a party, or making up stories about all the other people there.

For really mundance stuff - like cleaning toilets, Anna! - I let my mind wander. Sometimes I dream of never having to clean again. Sometimes I listen to conversations my characters are having. Or imagine my heroine scrubbing the toilet and how she would feel about it. Hm. Makes me want to scrub something for inspiration!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Anna, I'm just happy my kids think it's characterzation when I'm talking to my characters and not schizophrenia!

I tend to take those annoying people, usually coworkers, and put them into a book as the sniveling second banana to the boss or the villain, or just someone my heroine can make snarky comments to herself about. Oh yeah, that would be the fantasy me!

As for overextending...I just agreed to take a new job, which will require me to work an entire month of days in June. UGH.

Anna Campbell said...

Actually, Duchesse, in my experience, the busier people are, the more they do, so perhaps your technique is a really good one, it just doesn't feel like it. What I think is funny, though, is that when I'm writing, suddenly even housework looks like fun and I use the vacuuming as a treat. Yes, I am sick, sick, sick! I actually think my villains come from the evil impulses in my shadow self (yes, I'm not just the world class ballroom dancer, Rubik's Cube champion and humanitarian you all think you know - mwahahahahaha). Everybody who knew him said Vincent Price was one of the nicest people in the world. My theory (yes, again I have a theory!) is that he worked out all his shadow stuff playing those bad guys. Gives me something to aim for, doesn't it? Oh, and Broadway for the dancing, of course. Snork.

Aunty Cindy said...

LOL! Okay Jeanne, I'll confess that my villains often have the same name (or variation thereof)as my ex!

And Aunty's recent foray back into the work force in a temporary job DEFINITELY motivated me to work harder on my WIP!

Christine Wells said...

Duchesse de S, great post! I can identify with this one. My philosophy is that when I look back at my life, I'd like to think I loved my family and friends and was a moderately good person and I wrote good books. Being the perfect housewife is way down on the list! So, the laundry piles up and my husband begs me for clean socks on bended knee, and we probably have take-out a little too often, but with a 6 month old and a 4 year old and a husband who works too hard, something has to give. And I'm damned if it's going to be the writing!

Caren Crane said...

Christine, you made me laugh. I gave up any standards of housekeeping long ago! Except for the kitchen, the house is a bit iffy. Dust bunnies in the corners on the hardwoods and a layer of dust most everywhere. But I, like you, refuse to let writing take a backseat to everything else in life!

Trish Milburn said...

I've had to learn to try to not overcommit myself. It's not easy, but I've tried to keep myself to only 2 or 3 volunteer gigs at one time so that it leaves me time to write, spend time with the hubby and do those mundane tasks. And as for those tasks, I use them as breaks. For those of us who sit at a computer a lot, we risk our health if we don't get up and move around for awhile. And it's good to give our brain a 10- to 15-minute break every hour or two. Fill them with housework. :)

Beth said...

Great post, Jeanne! I try to limit myself to no more than 3 volunteer gigs at a time but even then it's difficult for me to say no. Like Caren, I like to say yes *g* Like Trish, I try and get up once an hour and do 5 - 10 min of the mundane stuff. It's really amazing what you can get accomplished in a few short bursts of time :-)

Although I have to admit that last week my son's baseball pants didn't get washed. I would've been embarrassed but I just couldn't seem to make myself care. Not when I have a book to write!

DMacMeans said...

LOL - Here I am trying to cut back on my commitments, and life steps in to fill the void. Sometimes it's a struggle, but if I don't find time to write - I'm horrible to live with - so my family clears the way to the computer when I have that look in my eye.

Slights I don't really notice, but I have been known to silence a dinner party with the question "So what do you think is the best way to kill off a husband?"

Happy Writing!