The Gift of Focus

Us writerly types have laser beam focus abilities…

…it is a gift, a talent not everyone has. Don’t feel discouraged, focus can be developed through diligent practice. And what better practice is there than to hunker down in November and participate in National Novel Writing Month activities. (NaNoWriMo) Some think pounding out 50,000 words in 30 short days as a grueling exercise in self-masochistic behavior. Perhaps for some it is.  I however breeze through the month…

Little Fir TreeThis year I am working on a children’s story about the life of a little tree who grows from seedling to orphan when her/his (gender not determined yet) parents are brutally chopped down in front of the innocent child-tree. The sight of dripping sap as the parent-trees are drug off traumatized the little chap. (Or will that be chapette?)

This is a huge endeavor and much research is needed in the course of such stories. So it was off to the search engine world of Bing to find information on Lumberjacks… All those pictures of pancakes and syrup made me hungry so off to the kitchen I went to make pancakes, which lead to a little laundry and I couldn’t miss Dancing With the Stars (Yay Amber Won!). I needed the break anyhow. …along with what sounds chain saws and chopping axes make.

What does a falling tree sound like? After watching a few videos and hearing trees snap, crackle and popping their way to the ground I had a craving for a Rice Krispie Treat. I found a cooking site that had about a hundred recipe versions for the crunchy, gooey confections. But being a focused and dedicated writer, I resisted.

The story progressed as the forest animals gathered around to support the little tree in its time of need. With more burning questions I was again off to Bing for answers. What are the habits of forest rabbits? Does a tree feel pain when birds land on the branches?  And I found the funniest picture of a dog and cat.

I know my HOURS spent in research are necessary to make my story credible. And because of stellar search skills I also know what the fox says 

…and I won three games of Bingo.

I was so engrossed in my story I had completely tuned out the rest of the world and was startled back to reality when the phone rang. It was my writerly son…

“Hey Mom, you going to Willamette Writers meeting with me tomorrow night?”

“You must be mistaken,” I said, “the meeting isn’t till December.”

“…And that would be tomorrow night.”

Shock hit me like an ax hitting a tree trunk. I was really getting into the rhythm of the story, connecting with my fir needle emotions. I had been writing for days. My fingers were sore and my behinder ached from sitting. My stats told the NaNoWriMo tale… Only 38,439 more words to go and I ran out of November…. I was so close.

Trader Joes Gift Basket

The Willamette Writers meetings are always interesting. We watched the winning script from August’s Conference. It was a silent movie. No dialogue… none…. nada…. and it was a writing contest? However to ease the pain of not reaching the NaNo goal of 50,000 words I did win this festive Trader Joe’s basket.

Since November I have come up with an ending for the tale of the little tree.

So it is back to Focus, Focus, Focus for me…

Oh Look…. Here’s that cute puppy picture I was telling you about.

Cat? Nope... haven't seen it.

Cat?  Nope… haven’t seen it.


4 thoughts on “The Gift of Focus

  1. Good news about your success – with Trader Joe’s and with writing a children’s book. If you’re aiming at a young reader, you probably don’t need 50,000 words, so it’s good you didn’t write that many. You’d have to spend lots of time deleting.

  2. Sounds exactly like what happens to me when I DECIDE to write something. When I just get inspiration it flows but when I DECIDE to do something, it takes a lot of….ummm….research! Funny post (but so true!)

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