It was somewhere near the end of summer when it just came to me that perhaps my writing days were over. That it was time to just give up the ghost and move on from making a living as a writer and just settle into handling daily problems.
It was a summer of aggravations and distractions, though each morning had brought the promise that my day would be clear of hassles so I could write. But then, in the flash of a moment, problems accumulated, the kind of normal interruptions that send us all off to fixing something — stolen credit cards, broken water faucets, flat tires, laptops that sputter and so forth. Before I knew it, each day had ended and I had accomplished nothing.
Mama was big on reflecting back on her day and deciding what worth she had squeezed from it. She would say things like, “I have gone full steam ahead all day and I still ain’t accomplished one thing” or “It’s been a good day. I got so much done.” I learned it from her so I always take an accounting of a day’s work.
Repeatedly, I said, “I haven’t stopped all day, yet I’ve gotten nothing done.” Putting out fires became a full-time job.
When someone would ask, “Are you working on a new book?” I would simply stare stupidly as though the thought of a new book had never crossed my mind.
Because it hadn’t.
One morning I went for a run, boldly planning all that I would write that day. I was full of confidence that finally a day had dawned when time would be all mine and I would work at the craft that has made my living for many years.
Do you know what the Bible says about such arrogance? It says something to the effect of, “don’t stop at the mailbox during your run, pick up your mail and look at the water bill.”
I bought Mama’s house when she died, which I use as my office. The water bill there never runs more than $10. However, on that morning of my stupidly inflated arrogance, it was $409. Did you know that a toilet that has been running for 10 days can use thousands of gallons of water?
My heart dropped. I ran to the water meter in the ground, dropped to my knees and pulled off the heavy lid. I cleaned the dirt from the face of the meter and leaned closer in to read it. Five seconds later, my right hand and arm started stinging madly. My hand was plopped down in the midst of an ant hill and let’s just say they were not happy to be disturbed.
Two hours later, after doctoring the ant bites and fiddling with other inconveniences, I made lunch for my husband then headed to the vet clinic to pick up our kittens who had been neutered. I could understand how they were feeling.
When I came home, I dropped down on the ottoman in front of Tink’s chair and placed my elbows on my knees.
“I’m distressed. Do you think I should just give up writing and manage the Rondarosa full-time? I can’t write for handling all the problems that come along.” I may not have time to write drama but I certainly have time to perform it.
He laughed. He deals with our problems, too, but somehow he still gets his writing done. That makes one of us.
With no helpful advice from him, I padded down the stairs and sat down to my laptop to write. I had written five far-from-brilliant lines, when Tink came in with a pair of dress pants in hand.
“Baby, could you sew this button back on these before I send them to the cleaners?”
For some reason, I don’t think that Mark Twain had distractions like this. And if he had, he would have found a story in them.