Disclaimer: I’m going to describe a family situation that irritated me. I’m only doing this because Toronto’s strict lockdown measures are getting us all beyond frustrated, plus the weather has turned much colder making outdoor activities a little less enjoyable, meaning we spend even more time inside together. I’m just saying, we’re all feeling the strain of being together so much in this small house for so long (10 months and counting). Read with a grain of salt. Don’t pity me, I’m fine. And be nice with your comments. 😉
If you’ve read here a while then you know I like to write fiction. Some of you know I write erotic/romantic fiction. Lately, I’ve been on a roll with a particular story that is now into Chapter 10, and I’m not done.
I write at the dining room table facing the open concept kitchen in front of me. The living room is to the left of me.
The family is not here for the most part – the husband teachers his college students in his basement office, the kids are plugged in to their virtual classrooms in their basement rooms.
I take those moments when they’re schooling to focus and write. All good so far, right?
Well, the family takes breaks. They come in every so often and say hello to the beagle puppy who is napping on the couch, they turn on the kettle, they putter around in the kitchen looking for snacks, yada yada, they disappear back downstairs again.
I have learned to accept these disruptions. In fact, I have a headset with a noise cancelling switch which helps me to tune them out when they come up here and make noise.
For the most part, I can manage. Especially when I’m writing this sort of drivel I am writing right now: blog posts. 🙃
There are times when I need absolute quiet. No interruptions. No visual distractions. No feeling footsteps or hearing banging of cabinets or peripheral puppy shenanigans.
When I’m deeply engrossed in an erotic scene, writing or editing it, I do not want to be interrupted at all. I need to focus in order to make the scene flow in consecutive order. I want to ensure the visuals in my head are accurate. It’s tricky, writing this sort of thing even when peace and quiet is present, but much trickier if there are interruptions.
Imagine writing a scene where the female protagonist is experiencing a slowly building arousal during foreplay. Something of that nature. I have to choose my words carefully and stay true to my voice.
It’s hard work. (It’s also enjoyable work but never mind…) 😉
Well the family doesn’t completely comprehend this. They are also entitled as much as I am to be in the communal parts of this house. But, they each have a place to go in this small house. I, however, do not.
Except for the bedroom, that is. The tiny bedroom with the queen size bed and two dressers and not enough space for a small desk.
When things get dicey, I do escape into my bedroom. I even lock the door. I sit on the bed even though it bothers my back, and I do what I need to do to get through my scene.
Here’s the thing: Since the summer months, I have explained to my family members that when the bedroom door is closed, to kindly refrain from entering. That I am in a crucial part of my story and do not want to be disturbed.
Here’s the other thing: the bedroom closet, which has two large sliding doors, has a portion designated to the apocalyptic food stash. I made this when covid started because we didn’t know what to expect. We bought a few extra nonperishable and stashed them in there.
Here’s the nitty gritty of my grievance:
Two days ago I was out buying a couple of missing ingredients and inadvertently picked up a couple of bags of Miss Vicky’s chips. They’re smaller bags than the Lays or Ruffles, but they’re better tasting. They’re kettle chips and I know the family, especially the man and the teen boy, like the cracked pepper, and jalapeno flavours.
I brought them home and declared that they are to be shared among everyone please. Then I left them on the kitchen island.
The chips remained untouched for an entire day which in itself is a miracle. 😲
The next day, Wednesday night, I wanted to read out loud my latest scene I wrote in my erotic story. I sometimes do this; it makes me catch small grammatical errors more easily this way. Hearing my story while reading it simultaneously helps me to ensure flow and forward propulsion are on track.
I told one of them that I was going into the bedroom to work, and to let me be. The others weren’t around.
About a half hour later, I hear someone clattering with the dishes in the dishwasher. (The house is small, the master bedroom is on the main floor near the kitchen.) I reach for my headphones and switch on the noise canceling thing and continue, but find it tougher to hear myself read out loud this way.
But I’m managing.
Just as I get to about the middle of the chapter, the door opens and in comes one of them carrying both bags of chips.
I just look at him.
“I’m just putting these in the closet,” he said.
I glare at him and he leaves, closes the door.
I’m pissed off. Was now the time he had to put them away? And why put them with the apocalypse stash? They know as well as I do that as soon as a hockey game comes on tv later they’ll want to snack on chips.
I not only resent the timing of his interruption, I resent the reason for the interruption.
Fast forward to the next day, Thursday. I tell them that I’m working on a story that has me really involved and preoccupied, and to kindly remember that when I’m in the bedroom with the door closed, I don’t want to be disturbed. I emphasize this to them which earned me some eyerolls.
Bu, they all acknowledged and one or two of them may have even had a little attitude. “We know MOM,” they said. 🙄
I look at the husband and I don’t know if he heard me or what, but he did look back at me.
To be frank, he disturbs me more than the kids, because it is, after all, our bedroom. The closet contains his clothes. (Side note: there is never a more pressing time to change his clothes than when I am in the bedroom writing – at least it seems that way to me.)
But seriously, I’m not in there all day, you know? I’m in there for an hour or so usually, then leave to get a drink, I return to write another hour, at some point I have to pee…It’s not like they’re locked out of the damn room all day long.
Thursday mid-afternoon I’m in the bedroom, cursing once again this godforsaken house I never wanted to live in to begin with but trying to make the best of it. I’m writing my story. In barges a teen and he leaves with one of the bags of chips.
“You didn’t hear me knock,” was his excuse.
My flow is interrupted again, I’m no longer feeling in erotic-mode, so I get up and go to the kitchen to finish dinner prep yada yada fast forward to after dinner. A kid has kitchen duty, the other disappears to her room, the husband sits with the dog on the couch and turns on netflix.
I announce I’m going to finish writing my thing and will be doing it in the bedroom.
No one says anything.
Just as I’m in mid chapter reading out loud, one of them comes in again. He opens the closet, takes out a less than half full bag of the chips I had bought, and gives me a look.
I glare at him.
Then he turns and walks away LEAVING THE CLOSET AND THE BEDROOM DOOR OPEN.
“Are you leaving all this open?” I call back in exasperation.
“I’m bringing this right back,” he says and gives me a look of annoyance.
“Just keep the fucking bag,” I tell him. “And shut the doors. ALL of them.”
Explain to me why he would even consider bringing the already half empty bag back when he must realize that in ten minutes, he would be back again to finish the remaining crumbs.
Either they don’t understand the meaning of the apocalyptic stash’s intent, or they don’t recognize their chips addiction as pathological, or maybe they just don’t see me. Maybe I’m invisible to them. (Which is kind of difficult to do what with all the quarantine-lockdown-covid-weight I’ve been dealing with lately.) 😶
I didn’t bother explaining things to them again. If they haven’t respected my privacy when writing in the bedroom in the past 6 months they’ll never learn now.
What I will do is learn how to focus better even with distractions. Or, maybe I’ll head back to my mom’s for a few days. Whenever I live with her part-time, I get a lot more work done than when I’m home. I am anxiously trying to finish this story I’m involved in so I can turn it into an ebook and post it to Smashwords, maybe. But this will be a lot more challenging to complete if I’m being interrupted as often as I have been this past week.
Perhaps one day I will have a She Shed or a home office to call my own. And the next time they ask me why I didn’t take any of the jobs I applied for, I can demonstrate with accuracy that given they do not respect my space and privacy when I’m writing fiction, I can’t see them respecting my space and privacy when I’m working for income.
If covid is ever over, and they all go back to school and work, I may very well be committed to the loony bin by then.
Addendum: please don’t feel sorry for me. My problems are very small in the grand scheme of things. I have a house and food and a partner who supports us all, which is more than many people have. I’m just illustrating with this little anecdote that mental health issues can be expressed in may different ways. Relationship dilemmas like these are more common during stay at home orders, and surprising triggers, like bags of chips, can set off a whole set of events that cause everyone more grief than is necessary. And, finally, lesson learned: THERE WILL BE NO MORE CHIPS COMING INTO THIS HOUSE. 😛
Perhaps I will also empty out the apocalypse stash from the bedroom and store it in a bin in the garage. Let the rodents at it for all I care.
End of rant.