Tricksy Hobbitses: Tricks, Treats, and the Craft of Writing

When you’re a writer, a real writer who doesn’t just have delusions of grandeur but actually acts on those delusions, you are all about one thing: writing to completion. Well, you’re actually about lots of things, like reading and rainy days and coffee and, oh yeah, that crazy little thing called revision. (You though I was going to say “love,” didn’t you? Well, I’ve got news for you: most writers are sociopaths.* They are really good at mimicking emotion but it’s all fake. Fake, I tell you! Now, don’t tell my husband I said that. He already looks at me sideways a little bit too much).

But, to get back to the very nice focus I had before my little aside, writers have one important task to accomplish before they can do anything else (by which I mean bask in the glory of publication and fame). One word looms large in the writer’s vocabulary, and that word is finish.

Except it’s usually plastered is letters six foot tall in every nook and cranny of your squirrely little mind. Because you’d rather be in facebook. Or twitter. Or tumblr. Any of those blackholes of awesome procrastination.

Yeah, I’m a big believer in visuals. Mostly because we live in a very visual society, not because I’m much of a visual person. When I “watch” TV, I’m usually actually listening to the show and doing something else, glancing at the screen every once in a while when it sounds like something interesting is happening. But I am a writer, therefore I am a strange individual.

While we’re on that subject, let me just tell you a secret. It is hard to finish things. It is hard to finish a draft; it would be easier to pull out all of my hair and light it on fire. In front of toddlers. And then pay for their therapy for the rest of their lives, even though I would have to get twenty-five more jobs to do that.

Why? Because the voices in my head want to be creative and free-spirits and all of that hippy-dippy, happy happy joy joy crap. Which means that I end up spending hours on pinterest looking at pictures of other people’s tattoos, hours reading other people’s books and other people’s writing tips, hours scribbling notes to myself about my stories instead of actually writing, and etc.
Now, I don’t buy into the whole muse thing, mostly because my Muse is almost always on vacation (I think she’s in Hawaii this year. You might remember her trip to Greece, if you are one of my two longterm readers). If I relied on Muse, I’d never get anything done. Ever. Because when she’s around she’s really needy. She wants Ben and Jerry’s (Coffee Heath Crunch is her favorite) and Doctor Who episodes and online shopping sprees.

My Muse is expensive.

So, in lieu of throws of creativity and artistic passion, I trick myself. And then I growl at myself like Gollum, cursing my tricksiness and my treachery and the loss of my precious…

But I digress. I trick myself into finishing in a very specific way: I maintain the illusion of freedom. I don’t keep a set work station. I have two “formal” writing spots in my house and, most of the time, I end up working somewhere else. Like at my kitchen table so that I am close to the coffee. Or the living room floor, using the coffee table as a makeshift desk. Or the front porch in late afternoon, when there is shade and the roaster-oven that is the New Mexico summer is beginning to cool and I can watch the sun set and listen to the birds chirp in terror as they try to evade the ridiculous number of stray cats that seem to live in my neighborhood. Seriously. There are at least thirty.

I trick myself into thinking that I am free and unfettered by simply taking advantage of portable means of writing (it doesn’t have to be a laptop, a notebook will do in a pinch) and, for some reason, even though I know I am tricking myself, it seems to work.

Tricksy hobbitses. Filthy hobbitses. My precious. My precious draft. It’s finished.

*When I say most writers are sociopaths, I mean it because it is statistically 100% true.** And I’m good at math.***

**Writers have a tendency to lie. Especially this writer. It comes of stringing words together with all the intensity of an Obsessive Compulsive on Ritalin. 

***My lawyer (who may not actually exist) insists that I mention that I am not, in actuality, all that good at math. I shudder at the sight of numbers, especially when they come with this weird sign: %

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