How To Avoid Work
--and other all too possible pursuits
(by Elaine Fox)
I’m excited! I have a novella coming out at the end of the month, in the collection titled FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL, that was actually a complete joy to write! I got to use some of my favorite elements: a dog, of course. A ghost! And I set it in one of my favorite seaside towns in Cape Cod.
I was thrilled to participate in this anthology because not only does the reader get three fabulous historical romances--with three hunky Regency dukes--but also one truly scary paranormal devil, and my contemporary romantic tale, boasting a dog named Duke!
My story, “THE DUKE WHO CAME TO DINNER,” practically wrote itself, rolling off my fingertips and onto the screen with an effortlessness that amazed me. This is not always the case. Actually, this is almost never the case. While I love writing, there is no way around the fact that it is usually a lot of work. So I, like many other authors I know, occasionally get caught up in Work Avoidance Traps that cloak themselves in the guise of Productivity Enhancing Techniques.
Case in point: I recently decided that I needed to become more organized when plotting. So, I bought some index cards, wrote a scene on each one, and planned to put them up on a bulletin board so that I could "see" the whole book at once. The problem was, I couldn’t find a bulletin board large enough. What I did find were self-adhesive cork panels that could be configured to fit any space. Perfect!
In order to put them up, however, I had to spend hours moving all the framed pictures I had on the designated wall, then I had to measure and install the cork panels, write up the index cards and put them up in some kind of order.
Unfortunately, after doing all this I realized that I couldn’t see the darn index cards from across the room. So, I took more time, re-wrote a bunch of them--using short descriptors in big, Sharpie-d words--and stuck them back up. This was slightly better but I still wasn’t Feeling The Book, and I was getting bummed because what was supposed to be my Magic Writing Bullet was not working the miracle it was supposed to.
I decided to leave the situation/frustration and regroup the next day.
The ordeal, however, would not leave me alone. In the wee hours of the night, I awoke to the sound of the cork panels springing off the walls. Tacks, index cards, crumbling cork everywhere. This strikes me, at that late hour, as a kind of tell-tale heart. I’ve buried my plot under office supplies and it’s telling on me. Either that or it’s trying to kill itself.
I’ve since taken the cork panels down and spent another day trying to get the double-sided tape off the wall (beware the blow-dryer, it removes paint, as well!) and have returned them. I want to put up an erasable whiteboard that I bought to at least map out my themes, but I now have what I think are valid concerns about my wall-mounting abilities.
Of course, we all know the absolute best work avoidance technique is to sit back and read a good book. In fact, there are times when this is exactly the right thing to do. On June 30, you might want to make a point of avoiding work and pick up FOUR DUKES AND A DEVIL. It could provide the mental health break that might actually increase productivity!
But how about you all? Anybody have an amusing work-avoidance story? Or, better yet, something with Time Drain potential that actually worked to the good? (On second thought, maybe you shouldn’t tell me about that. I can’t afford the time to try to make it work.)