Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not Writing a Book

Oh the distractions! The Summer Olympics. The Minnesota Twins pennant race with the Chicago White Sox. Beautiful weather. Other author's books waiting on the 'hold shelf' at the library while I work my way through the stack by my chair at home. Working. And next week? The Tennis US Open and the Minnesota State Fair. It is all too easy to fall prey to these attractions instead of writing.

For instance, I have cable TV in my screen porch. I can agonize over each pitch and urge my favorite tennis players to the finals and marvel at the Olympic divers barely missing the diving board before their perfectly pointed toes disappear into the smallest of ripples on the surface of the pool. And I can enjoy all this on my porch while soft breezes wash over me and the chatter of birds threatens to drown out the voices of sports commentators.

Oh, there are solutions, all right. For starters, unplug the porch TV and return it to it's winter home in the garage. That takes care of the Olympics, the Minnesota Twins and the US Open. Then, plug in the laptop and write. Still feeling the soft breezes and hearing the birds.

Next, attack my 'reserve' list at the library; culling all but the "I can't wait to get my hands on this" items. If successful, this exercise will not only limit time spent reading during this period, it will also remove the guilt associated with stacks of unread books at my elbow, their 'not renewable' status ticking like a time bomb during the two-week-only period for high demand items.

That leaves the Minnesota State Fair and working. I have learned that boarding a "Fair Bus" at a transit terminal five minutes from home on a week day morning is the only way to go. Armed with coffee and the morning Star Tribune the ride is relaxing and worth every penny of the modest $5 round-trip investment. And I have learned by experience that going to the fair by myself is also the only way to go. I know exactly what I want to see and do. The adorable lop-eared rabbits, the majestic Clydesdale horses, and the imperious llamas with impossibly long eyelashes. Admiring local artist's works in the Fine Arts building, visiting the Minnesota Public Radio booth and political candidates booths (especially in an election year,) I by-pass everything 'on a stick' and have a hearty lunch at the screened-in Lutheran church diner across the street from the Fine Arts Building. After a free concert in Baldwin Park I will stroll through the DNR complex, looking for muskies in the 'lake' and perusing their gift shop. I confess I will succumb to a large paper cone filled with chocolate chip cookies and with my refillable cup from the "all you can drink" milk booth I will sit on a nearby bench enjoying warm fresh cookies and icy cold milk while being entertained by the people parade. Then it's time to head for the bus. I can be home by mid-afternoon. So that's not even a whole day of not writing. The State Fair is a keeper.

That leaves work. What can I say? It's only 20 hours a week. That should leave tons of writing time, right? Like today. I have the whole day off. I was out the door by 7am and off to Lake Harriet, where I read the morning paper while drinking coffee and eating a plain donut. Next a stop at the grocery store before returning home. I made a pot of coffee, put the sprinkler on in the front yard (it is my day to water . . . odd numbered day, odd house number, and before 11 am or after 5 pm.) I sit down at the computer, check my e-mail (uh,oh.) Answer e-mail. Read today's New York Times on line, check in on Polar Bear Alley (a blog from Churchill, Manitoba) and realize its been five days since I've posted a blog myself.

So here I am. I'm writing! Alas, not for the book, but writing nonetheless. And its not even noon yet. A little lunch on the porch, and by then the mail will have come. . .

Much later . . . The mail today was very late. I seized the moment and wrote another 515 words for my book. I'm going to reward myself by channel surfing between the Twins and the Olympics this evening.


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