Thursday, December 30, 2010

Finding Time to Write

When I became a full-time writer, one of the things I most looked forward to was being able to work at home. No more getting up before dawn to get to the office via a sometimes long commute. No more waiting for buses in knee-deep snow or oppressive heat. No more punching the old time clock. I could set my own hours! I could work all day or all night as I chose.

Sounds heavenly, doesn't it? Too bad it's rarely that idyllic.

Many authors I know resorted to leasing offices outside the home so they could have uninterrupted time in which to write. Most complained that working at home didn't work, because there were always neighbors at the door requesting favors. Could they let the repairman in to work on their washer? Could their four kids stay there until they got home from work? A delivery was due--surely it would be no trouble to watch for the truck and sign for it. After all, the writer was home all day. 

And Dr. Frankenstein thought he had problems with his neighbors....

I refused to be driven out of my home. My neighbors knew better than to come to my door with their To Do lists. I had no problem whatsoever turning my phone off. Anyone who knows me well knows I hate to talk on the phone--most of the time, anyway. The salesman at T-Mobile was baffled when I requested a smartphone with no actual phone service, just a data plan. He patiently explained that this was simply not possible.

Oh, well. As it turned out, the phone had a habit of sending calls directly to voicemail. How convenient!

I've had the occasional idiot banging on my door, unaware that he was taking his life in his hands by doing so. The only major problem I've had, however, was a friend who couldn't take a hint. She'd lost her job but didn't want her husband to find out, so she was staying away from home all day. She decided she was going to spend those days at my place. I explained that it wouldn't work because I needed privacy for writing. "You can write after I go home," she said.

I could write when she wasn't there. Wasn't that nice of her to allow me to have my privacy after she finally went home?

The last straw came when Collin and I moved into our current residence. We had boxes stacked all over the living room and dining room, and I was determined to get everything sorted and in the appropriate rooms before bedtime. As I was unpacking, there was a knock at the door. It was Debbie. "This isn't a good time," I told her.

"Oh, that's all right," she said, pushing past me. She made her way to the dining room and pulled up a chair, parking herself at the table. At that point, I didn't care if I made her angry. If she left and never came back, I'd be okay with that. I didn't bother to hide my displeasure at her forced presence. It's been said that if I don't like someone, they have to be dead to not know it, but Debbie didn't get the message at first. Only when she realized I was not going to offer her anything to eat or drink, that I would not stop what I was doing to listen to her latest complaints, did she finally leave.

The medieval castle-builders had it right. My next home will have a moat. And maybe a couple of moat bears....hungry moat bears....


  1. I certainly hope that Debbie can't swim. Sounds like she'd take her chances with the bears rather than take the hint. Good thing my neighbors don't like me.

  2. Ah, moat bears. I could use a couple of them around the place.

  3. Karla--always a plus when you're not popular with your neighbors.

    William--you had one moat bear, didn't you? Yogi?

  4. Great insight into Norma's world. Love it. Signed,
    Married to the moat bear.

  5. Married to a moat bear, are you? My dad used to be an exceptional moat bear.

  6. Yogi was a fearsome beastie of the first order!

  7. @DesertRocks: Does the moat bear hubby get to eat salesmen as they stop by?

  8. I can't stand talking on the phone. That's why I give out my Google Voice number. Voicemails are transcribed via text messaging so I can see if it was important or not.

  9. Moat bear screens calls, answers the door, makes great coffee and hangs up on salespeople.
    P.S. Iron gates work better than a draw bridge Norma.

  10. Seriously! All I've ever wanted was to write at all I want is a blasted office!!! Well, that and a real job.

  11. Mike--I am soooo happy to hear you say that. I used to think there was something wrong with me. I have a few friends who get ticked at me because I don't want to spend hours on the phone. I've had long phone conversations with William, but he's too far away to just go knock on his door.

    I was relieved to hear Ellen DeGeneres say the same thing on her show one day.

    I'm going to start using my Google Voice number, too.

  12. I loathe the telephone! The best place for the phone is outside at the moat bears' post.

  13. I'm with Mike...I hate the phone! I don't usually answer it, unless it's a family member or my daughters school...but, other than that, if I don't recognize the number, then I don't answer it. They can leave a message, or not...cause I could care less.

    Norma-how rude of your friend to do that!!! That was just mean and nasty on her part and you have every right to kick her out...what I hate is family "inviting" themselves over...that really irks me...especially when it's my writing time...


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