Hacking it
     by
Yves Potter

Sometimes I wonder why I torture myself by writing. There will never have a satisfactory answer. I trick myself into getting started by sending e-mails or writing letters to long-suffering friends. Regardless of successes, it never gets any easier. Take today as a typical example.

The sun was shining brilliantly through the window, bathing my bed in a fresh yellow glow. Did I throw back the covers, leaping out and shouting with joy, my head filled with ideas for writing work? Hell, I did not! I slowly reached for my clothes and staggered over my sleeping dogs. I managed to eat 2 pieces of toast and drink my coffee before they woke up.
 
Then the dogs, Roscoe and Shadow, needed to go out to the garden and have their breakfast. Two of the cats also wanted out. The ‘indoor’ cats, Macavity and Sundance wanted fresh milk and cat biscuits, plus my undivided attention for several minutes.

I cleaned my teeth and made myself presentable. I fed the goats, and chucked some corn at the chickens, (I did remember to let them out, didn’t I?) I checked all four horses and made up their feeds for later.

Just about ready to settle down to writing work and the phone rang. I almost let the answer phone get it but, temptation intervened, and telling myself it might be an Editor calling, I answered it. No Editor this time, just my mother ringing for one of her long and, usually, one-sided chats! I have told her that I am working in the mornings now but judging by her comments, she thinks I’m merely playing around on my computer and refuses to believe that I am actually working. After ten minutes of being tactful, I say I really must go. “Oh yes dear,” she says, “I won’t hold you up.” Did I imagine the sarcasm or not? Well, that’s mothers for you!

I manage to turn on the computer without any of the annoying and intermittent problems that seem to plague modern technology. I put in a fresh disk and enter my word processing programme and hey presto….the blank page looms before me. What can I write? Am I any good? I take a deep breath and start tapping the keys. I don’t mind too much if the first few lines are total nonsense. The regular tap tap seems to get my brain into gear. I look at my ‘to do’ list and right at the top is ‘write article for writing website’. I’ll make a start on that.
 
Only six paragraphs in and Roscoe is asking to go out urgently. Sighing, but trying to remain positive, I open the door and let him out. Poor dog, he is only 11 and has developed a bone cancer on his jaw. It is uncomfortable for him and makes it difficult for him to eat. I know he won’t be with us for much longer so I play with him and jolly him up. As soon as I have settled him back in his bed, I hear the wail of a cat fight outside. Off I go, to referee and restore the peace. No obvious injuries or dripping blood this time so back to the computer screen I go.

I hear a car engine in the distance; my straining ears recognize the approach of the postman’s van. My fingers hover over the keys. I leap out to get the mail and give the startled postman a smile. Bills and junk yet again but one envelope has an air of promise. The franked postmark says ‘Reader’s Digest’ and my dozy brain thinks I may have won something in their Prize Draw. (I did once win a luggage set in a ‘spot the ball’ competition)

I rip open the envelope. My eyes scan down the page. “Please sign ….world rights….enclosed is our cheque.” I feel a wide disbelieving smile splitting my face. It is ironic that my first acceptance after several weeks of serious writing should be for a 38 word joke!

Buoyed up by concrete evidence that I am not banging my head against the proverbial brick wall, I manage to dash off a rough draft of my article before lunch. This is remarkably speedy even for me. A quick bite to eat, tins opened to feed the dogs and cats, all horses quiet so I can return to work. Only an hour left for writing before I have to exercise and train the horses, walk the dogs, check on my small flock of Jacob sheep and tidy up the house. My husband and I take it in turns, roughly speaking, give or take a plate or two, to either wash the dishes or make the evening meal.

After being completely engrossed in my writing, I rise from my chair pleased for having written although wanting to carry on. Why is it so hard to start and then so hard to stop? I realise that I’m stiff and achy, my hands are freezing despite the warmth of the day and my eyes are gritty. I chide myself for not taking regular breaks from the screen, as health experts frequently advise, but who does?

In the evening, it is tempting to relax and rest on my laurels. I read somewhere that one writer keeps a bottle of bubbly in her fridge and either celebrates her successes or commiserates for her failures. I think I might follow her example. I go to bed tired but happy, telling myself that tomorrow I will write even more. I’ll just get up in the morning and write. If only it were that simple!

image of a quill

Yves Potter

© 2012