Redefining north.

Writers on Writing #7: Luke Thominet

Writers on Writing #7: Luke Thominet


How to Poison Dart Frog Your Loved Ones

As a writer, my greatest impediment to productivity has always been distraction. Not that I’m complaining, but, as a grad student and teaching assistant, so many of prime writing opportunities occur on nights, weekends, and holidays – precisely when my well-meaning, attention-starved friends and relatives want to spend time with me. And damn it, I really want to spend time with them too.

But, of course, writing isn’t happy to just sit around and wait patiently until I have enough time and space. No, it is like a two-year-old child who isn’t happy unless you feed him everyday. Our conversations go a little like this:

Me:  Yeah, so how’s next Tuesday at 6 p.m. for you?

Writing:  I’m gonna hold my breath until you write.

Me: I just can’t do it today, but I promise to find time tomorrow. Okay?

Writing:  (Turning blue in the face)

Me: Fine. (Turns to family.) Sorry, I need to skip out a little early on this funeral so I can go write.

But I’ve managed to develop a foolproof way of carving out time and space for writing. And no, it isn’t going off to another part of the house, away from everyone else, or taking that quick stroll down to the library. Sometimes (in miniscule grad student apartments that are shared with a loving, attentive girlfriend like mine) you just can’t get that far away from other people.

Instead, the answer is to be like a poison dart frog and warn sane people away by appearance alone. I like to throw on a 1987 royal blue Ryne Sandberg Cubs jersey, some bright orange athletic shorts, a faux-fur Russian hat, and some clear lens sunglasses, then I grab my computer and sit down on the futon right in the middle of the living room. And I write. Time-sucking real life relations are naturally repelled by my clothes:

My Girlfriend: Hey Hon, I was thinking we might go out tonight and… oh my God, what the hell are you wearing? (Runs off to be sick in toilet.)

Me: Victory!

Writing: FEED ME!

Just try it once. Wearing your own brazenly mismatched clothes will act as a signal to your family and friends that you need some space (or maybe an intervention – just remember to take notes for a new story if they dare try).

But as a confirmed narcissist, I can openly admit that there is no person I love more than myself, and this is the most trying relation of all.  After a hard day of grading, I always feel like I deserve my own time.  Often, I just want to tell writing to shut up and leave daddy alone for a little while so he can relax for once.

This is the primary reason I think like a peacock – when I look down and see that tie-dyed Alice in Wonderland t-shirt, or stare through the facemask of my trusty beer-helmet, I can’t help but remember my purpose for sitting there with my computer in the first place. It wasn’t to look for pictures of penguins wearing sweaters or to get in a few hands of internet poker.

No, I sat down to write, to create, to never give up. And damn it, I’m not taking off my fur hat until I’ve done that.

So join with me. Grab your old hippie paisley shirts, green sun visors, foam Shark Week hats, ugliest Christmas sweaters, and, together, let’s make more time for writing.

Aleksander Hemon reading

Aleksander Hemon reading

Writers on Writing #6: Justin Daugherty

Writers on Writing #6: Justin Daugherty