Friday, February 17, 2012

A Cruel Sabotage of My Creative Process

Weekend mornings are about the only time I can sit down and write before the all too normal clamor and chaos of family life restarts making it difficult if not impossible. So, if I have a decent idea for a story or feel motivated for some rant as early as five o’clock Saturday mornings I can be found sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop typing away in a near desperate attempt to get something down before I am interrupted. Far too many times events involving the children or my wife have upended my feeble efforts with whatever muse that had decided to visit me evaporating back into the quantum foam that the theoretical physics boys and girls say make up our reality.

There are few things that frustrate me more than to return to some story or essay I started just a few hours before and feel nothing of the original idea that seemed to possess me earlier. It is an extremely rare occurrence for me to be able to ever pick back up on something once I am derailed but it does happen, such was the case last Saturday. The story in question is one that I started several months ago but just sort of died on the vine. Sometime during the middle of last week I reread what I had already written and in the surreal universe that makes up the grey matter between my ears very early Friday morning several new ideas on how to proceed struck me like lightening. So, Saturday morning I eagerly jumped up to begin believing I might actually write something decent.

Looking at my watch as I got out of bed I saw it was nearly six-thirty in the morning, a little later than I planned but luckily both the kids and my wife were still asleep. Within a few minutes I had the laptop booted and my coffee ready and had actually started typing when my daughter came into the kitchen.

“Daddy, whatcha doing?” Darth Wiggles asked sleepily as she came to stand beside me far sooner than I liked.

“Just writing sweetie,” I answered back actually foolish enough to believe I could get her to go to the living room with a Pop Tart and glass of milk and watch television while I continued. That probably would have worked too if we had milk that morning. Apparently someone, Darth Spoilboy, decided to have milk and cookies after I went to bed leaving just enough to make a sloshing sound if you shook the container.

Needless to say there was nowhere near enough for Wiggles much less Dragonwife or Spoilboy when he finally decided to wake up and grace us with his presence around noontime. This forced me to make a milk run to the nearby grocery store, of course Dragonwife called out for me to take the shopping list of items we needed before I left. Wanting to protect my reborn muse I made a few notes on a piece of paper, saved the small amount I had already typed, and closed up the laptop figuring I could pick everything right back up.

All told it took about an hour for me to go to the store and return. By that time Dragonwife was up and much to my horror motivated and full of energy to “get the backyard cleaned up a little” a depressing development since the night before she complained about “feeling bad.” Such a non-optimal condition for her is a near certain sign that nothing substantial or complicated would be tried that weekend. For those unfamiliar with the workings of my family during a slacker inspired uncomplicated weekend just picture a bunch of lazy people lying around the living room watching DVD’s and ordering take out and you will understand.

Not only did Dragonwife feel like working outside the cloudy skies and constant drizzly the high paid television weather people said would make up the weather that day had utterly failed to appear. Things were going so wrong that it was almost like the bright sun that was slowly appearing above the tree tops was laughing at me. Good thing I do not live near any of those overly chipper and extroverted television meteorologists, I would have had their asses raking my yard.

While this might sound like a minor issue my lovely wife is very funny when it comes to yard work. She actually hates it worse than me but any resistance to her plans is met with a stubborn persistence to do even more. This is where Darth Spoilboy comes into play. From the moment I forced him out of bed around eight o’clock Dragonwife and him were at odds over everything steadily ratcheting up the yard work brinkmanship.

It did not take long before my son and I were doing the annual cutting of the crape myrtle trees that line the fence surrounding our backyard. For reasons that escape me all the garden and landscaping experts say crape myrtle trees are suppose to be cut back each winter. I personally feel it is a grand conspiracy involving the gardening/landscaping industrial complex out to scam even more money from foolish Americans vainly trying to recreate English country manors in miniature. But anyway, our crape myrtles are rather large making it a tedious and time consuming job that I am usually able to talk my way out of doing with us instead hiring a landscaper to come and cut the limbs for us right before springtime. Unfortunately Spoilboy's inability to keep his mouth shut and not dig our yard working hole any deeper gave Dragonwife the bright idea that we would do it ourselves this year.

With Darth Spoilboy exclaiming to the heavens how both his mother and I were ruining the special plans he had with his girlfriend he and I began cutting the limbs with Dragonwife standing a few feet back offering her wonderful micromanaging advice. Dragonwife stayed with us because she is convinced that I am out to kill all our trees and bushes to avoid yard work. I would usually disagree just on principle but it happens to be true but no matter how hard I try everything refuses my best attempts at plant murder. All told it was an opera of bickering that I am sure some comedy writer would compare to the best Simpson episode.

Spoilboy and I met most of my wife’s expectations on the crape myrtles somewhere around noontime but given how riled up she had become had not the clouds and drizzled that was expected earlier pick that time to come rolling in we would have been out there all day. With the clouds taking up positions above us Dragonwife almost as if on cue said she was feeling bad again and called it a day.

A cry of joy and freedom rang out of both Spoilboy and I and we scrambled to put away all our tools while leaving a huge pile of cut limbs all over the backyard. My newly liberated teenage son was inside the house, in the shower, and speeding off to his girlfriend’s house far faster than the laws of physics should allow. I on the other hand took my time and had my shower then a leisurely lunch. Somehow my muse was still with me and now that I had the rest of the day to relax and write I took my time.

Around one o’clock I sat back down in front of my laptop and began looking at my notes and the small amount I had typed before everything went to shit. I took a deep breath thinking of how to proceed when Dragonwife came into the kitchen.

“Oh yeah,” she said innocently from the kitchen counter fixing herself something to drink, “you wanted to write some more in one of your stories. Well you have all day now, Wiggles and I will leave you alone.”

I have no idea how it happened or why but my muse that had stuck with me all that day popped like a soap bubble blown by a small child on a summer’s day when my wife said those words. My laptop screen displayed several paragraphs that absolutely made no sense and my detailed notes might as well have been written by someone else. For about thirty minutes I just sat there playing with a few sentences trying to jump start whatever I once had, but nothing worked.

Seeing the futility of just sitting in front of a laptop screen contemptuously displaying just the few lines I was able to write on my word processing program I closed everything up and plopped myself on a seat in the living room with Dragonwife who was already on the couch. “I thought you were so eager to write today?” She asked doubtfully.

“Yeah, but it didn’t work out like I wanted.” I said sinking into the comfortable chair next the couch while beginning the process of dozing off for a nap.

Now, that might have refreshed my creative juices after that damn unscheduled yard work. Sorry, I just could not resist adding it.


Cloudia said...

you mean it's not just ME?!

Aloha from Waikiki
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

Sue H said...

....I have that image of the bickering Simpsons in my mind now!

Sarge said...

I prefer the late afternoons - typically after having had my liquid lunch at Hooters. While I envy you for having a family; I am a bachelor and quite fond of solitude.
My anger at issues though seems to interfere with my creative process.
Although, it does produce some world class shit-grams to those in Congress. Abet, oft fueled by amber colored beverage.

Hang in there...



Akelamalu said...

You sound like MWM when I have a great idea to tidy the garden or do some decorating! LOL

Glen said...

amazing how wives think that when they want to do something like yardwork then this automatically implies that you do too.

they have a knack of turning a completely innacurate theory into reality though.
Especially Mrs. Wilson.

Randal Graves said...

Your tale is precisely why I gave up writing and took up booze. If I'm going to cut the grass, might as well while sloshed. Maybe I'll chop a pretty pattern on the lawn.

John McElveen said...


Still laughing!


goatman said...

That is exactly what happens when you get up early!

Windsmoke. said...

Yep, been there done that and it does really get under your skin :-).

Beach Bum said...

Cloudia: LOL!!!!!

Sue H.: Yeah, it can get pretty wild sometimes. And yes, I play Homer in this operatic performance.

Sarge: Haven't been to Hooters in a long time, I miss the wings there. (wink, wink)

Akelamalu: He and I should start a club.

Glen: Amen! I just wish for once they wanted to do something really cool like a sudden and unplanned drive to the beach.

Randal: I use to have one of those beer can holding hats just for that reason.

John: Thanks you sir!

Goatman: I must admit it is getting harder every year.

Windsmoke: Told my wife after my son goes to college she will have to hire a lawn care service.

Mr. Charleston said...

Trimming Crepe Myrtle is some type of conspiracy. Like butchering the sabal palms like they do, you know, where there's only a few straggly fronds left at the top.
Crepe Myrtles make beautiful little trees if left to their own devices.
I don't think there is any such thing as writer's block. I believe it's just a part of a greater condition. I find that when I can't write, I can't do much of anything else either.

Pixel Peeper said...

I love what you call a "slacker inspired uncomplicated weekend." I'm highly protective of those at my house!

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hahaha! So sorry to be laughing at your misfortune ... but you understand I'm laughing WITH you, not AT you! They say that makes a difference. Me? I don't buy it.

But you DO realise this is the universe's way of telling you to write a story about that rock heart I found donwunder, don't you???

Ranch Chimp said...

Well Bum ... you could alwayz take the easy way out like I do. I have no creative process or whatever it's called I reckon when it come's to posting/ writing, but also I dont have the talent's as far as fiction writing piece's as you do on the other end. So what I write is just spontaneous non- fiction concerning maybe news issue's, or other local shit, (having been around the music industry for year's, of course I am a big fan of writing about music, etc) thought's or whatever I reckon, alot of thing's I think to write about, but just never get around to it or whatever. Not because though anything distracted me. I'm most comfortable and write my best when I dont really plan or think too huch about it, although that may sound odd.

The easy way basically ... just look at it like "what I dont write now, I can write tomorrow" ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... I used to work with this gal who would take her work almost home with her, I mean, sometime's we go to lunch and she was still talking and worrying over the job's ... I would tell her "Relax ... what we dont do today, we'll get tomorrow" ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... it aint like it going anywhere's : )

I have the same approach at writing Bum.

BTW Guy ... I'm fixin to write something in the next hour or so, the only thing is Bum ... heh, heh, heh, heh, heh ... I have no idea what(?) : )

Later Guy ....

Marja said...

You might not have been able to finish your story but you wrote the most entertaining yard story instead. My hubby loves his garden and I have to push him to go out instead of gardening all the time

Anonymous said...


This was one of the best, most entertaining things I've read in awhile. I am guessing, however, that your wife doesn't read your blog right, or like me, you would have been napping out in the garage!

And on top of all that, I've been through this experience so many times.

jadedj said...

Eschew is the word that goes best with yard work, at least this is what I tell my wife. Her response, of course is, "yeah pal, it's you that's going to be out there raking those leaves."

Btw, thanks for the follow, it gave me the impetus to get over here and check your site out (having run into your name here and there in the ether). I like what I read and I will definitely be back. Besides, it gives me one more reason to "eschew" my yard escapades.

lime said...

it might not bring back your muse and although i am late to the post i will gladly offer myself as a horticultural hitwoman. i am skilled at killing anything that photosynthesizes. i simply attempt to make it thrive and it withers under my hand. it could help avoid future scenarios like this one.

Life As I Know It Now said...

So you were working at Wilson's house I take it? :)

Hope you get your creative juices flowing soon :~D

Tim Jones said...

You are certainly not alone. I used to get up at 3 a.m. to get in a couple of hours of writing before those evil intrusions of life. There is a trick. The night before try reading notes you are using or just the last graph of what you have already written. Often in the morning you will wake up with a thread to follow.

Beach Bum said...

Mr. Charleston: Yeah I agree, I'd personally leave all the trees and bushes in my yard alone if it was possible.

Pixel: They are becoming more rare at my house with both the kids having activities.

Red: LOL!!!

I'll do my best.

Ranch: Yeah, a good bit of my writing comes from ideas that suddenly hit me.

Marja: I use to like yardwork but its so time consumming now.

Rayyanek: No, my wife does not read my stuff. I sort of like it that way.

Jadedj: I'll have you on my blogroll by tomorrow. Kept meaning to add it last weekend but things got in the way.

Lime: Thats the thing, I don't think some of the plants in my yard can be killed. Now my grass is as dead as it can be, but I don't really care. I just make my neighbors yards look that much better.

Life: Had to add that picture, I'm a guy.

Tim: I'll have to give those ideas a try.

Collin Hinds said...

Christ almighty. We live parallel lives.