Friday, March 15, 2013

A Slave to the Bones

by Sue Ann Jaffarian

The real questions to be considered are:

When does routine become ritual?
When does ritual become obsession?
And when is it time to take meds?

During the week I write almost every morning before I go to my job as a paralegal. Normally, if I put my head down and ignore the internet, I can get in almost two hours of really good writing time before I shower and dress for the day.  On weekends the routine is the same, except I get in 4-6 hours a day.

The morning routine is the same no matter what the day: 

Get up between 5 and 5:30 (7:00 on weekends) - check
Feed cats - check
Scoop litter box - check
Make coffee - check
Check e-mail, both personal and work - check
Check calendar for reminders of the day's events - check
Make breakfast and eat during next chores - check
Wish friends on Facebook happy birthday - check
Check new comments on my page and in the few groups on Facebook in which I participate - check
Do some book and blog promotion - check

Once the above is done, I settle in for some focused writing time.  Looking at the list above, you might think this takes hours to do, but it doesn't. I can buzz through this to-do list in 30 minutes.

I don't have lucky charms, amulets or a mantra. I have this list of chores that must be done or I'm off kilter. Off kilter means the writing suffers, or rather, the writing time suffers.
Okay, now that you all think I'm a workaholic and are suitably impressed, here's my deep dark secret not posted to the list above.

My name is Sue Ann and I'm addicted to playing dominoes online. And I don't mean ordering pizza.

Yes, it's true, the Bones (as they were called in earlier times because they were once made of actual bone) have a hold on me.

I play it in the morning after I've written about an hour or so. I play 3 games on MSN Game site, then it's back to writing. Or if it's later in the morning, it's off to shower and get ready for work after the games. As of the writing of this blog post, I have completed 7,573 games, won 3,638 and lost 3,935.

So you see, I've been doing it quite a while and am still only fair to middlin' in my skill. On weekends I do it several times a day, but only 3 games at a time.  It started years ago as a diversion when I was mentally stuck in my writing. I would play a game or two, relax my brain, then return to my manuscript with my gray matter more flexible. I know people who use Spider Solitaire in the same manner.

One of the nice things about dominoes is that it doesn't take much time to play 3 games. Dominoes moves fast. I can be in and out and on my way to the next few pages in my manuscript without so much as a blink of any eye. 

Boy, it felt good to come out of the closet with that!

The only time I don't play my 3 games is if I'm in THE ZONE. You writers out there know what I mean. THE ZONE is that magical writing trance when nothing else exists but the manuscript you're working on.  When you're in THE ZONE, you'll keeping pounding away at the keyboard even if you need to pee so badly your teeth ache. Even if the cats are gnawing on your ankle for attention. Even if the clock is telling you it's time to go to work. Yes, even if the ghost of your dead mother is screaming obscenities in your ear. Nothing, not even the Bones, can upset THE ZONE. It's a rare occurrence that trumps all other obsessions.

Gotta run. I haven't played my 3 games yet today and the clock is ticking...


Catriona McPherson said...

And suddenly my formation Bics seem like nothing!

Meredith Cole said...

I, too, am a morning writer! But have been off my routine this week with daylight savings time... Ugh.