Tag Archives: unfocused

I’m It.

At least, I assume I’m It, because that’s what usually happens when I get tagged. Mada tagged me for the dreaded “Six Things About Me” blog meme, and now I have to come up with six things about myself and tag six other bloggers.

Before I forget, I need to post the rules. The rules are:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules.
  3. Write six things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
  5. Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites.
  6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up.

Without further ado, here are six things about my favorite subject, me

  1. I picked “The Unfocused Life” as my domain name because I’m, y’know, kind of unfocused. I can focus; it’s not like I have adult ADHD or anything. I think. Several of my coworkers over the years have suggested that I might, but what do they … hey, what’s that shiny thing?
  2. In college, I went through three majors before I settled on Political Science. The other two were Physics and Philosophy, so at least I stuck to the P section of the course catalog. Before you ask, there was no Psychology major until my third or fourth year; until then, it was called Behavioral Science.
  3. I hate doing little fussy projects with my hands. When I was around 8, my mother gave me a chemistry set for my birthday, after I begged her and begged her and begged her and begged her for it. I did one experiment: I made invisible ink, which, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t read, and then I was done. I started a couple of others, but getting these teeny-tiny amounts of chemicals into the teenier, tinier test tubes made me INSANE. In high school, I got a crystal radio kit; the instructions said you must coil the wire around the tube carefully and neatly, without any twists in the wire. I screwed it up on the second turn of the wire around the tube, and I was done. This afternoon, I helped Unfocused Girl make a set of pentominoes (we’re taking turns reading Chasing Vermeer to each other before she goes to bed, and they play a major role in the book), and I wanted to stab myself with the scissors. Not because I objected to doing a project with UG — far from it, which is why I was able to stick it out — but because drawing the grid on the cardboard, and then cutting out the shapes … made … me … all … twitchy … arg! I’m perfectly happy doing big things with my hands, however; a few years ago, my father-in-law and I spent the weekend building an enormous playset in the backyard for the kids — no problem.
  4. If I go more than a few days without running, I have dreams that I’m smoking. I quit smoking in 1992.
  5. Last movie that made me cry? Armageddon. Not the ending — it was the scene where [SPOILER ALERT] the young son of one of the crew members who didn’t know his father at all is watching the crew board the shuttle and says to his mother, “Look, that salesman’s on TV,” and his mother says, “That’s not a salesman, that’s your daddy.” [END SPOILER] My only excuse that I was watching it on an Air France flight home from Paris, and I drank a LOT of Veuve Cliquot before the movie started.
  6. My least favorite chore before going to bed is feeding Big Pink Fishie. I have no idea why; it’s the easiest thing in the world.

Enough about me; let’s talk about you talking about me. Or about you, if you must. I hereby tag:

Spynotes

Everything Under the Sun

Orbis Writings

Polybloggimous

Spontaneous Derivation

Life in Scribbletown

February Blog Chain Entry: On Balance

This is my entry for the February Blog Chain. Our theme is BALANCE, and each blogger in the chain will incorporate into his or entry an element from the previous blog post in the chain. I’m first this time.

I’ve been practicing law for almost 13 years now, and by last year, I had allowed all of my other interests to fall by the wayside. We dropped our theater subscription when Junior (our second child) was born, and around the same time I dropped off the board of the small theater company I had been involved with. I haven’t taken a French class since 1997. By the fall of 2006, I had even stopped watching television. When Mrs. Unfocused had trouble sleeping, I would tell her about my day. I had conversations at parties and bored myself.

Great — now I sound like Rodney Dangerfield.

The point is, I had gotten into a mental rut. During the week, I went to work, came home, had dinner with the family if I got home early enough, helped put the kids to bed, then worked for another three hours. I might go for a run or go to the gym, but that was about it. Finally, I got to the end of the year and found that I had the luxury of taking some time at home; I would still have to work a few hours each day, but I could manage it so that I wouldn’t have to come in at all.

I took the opportunity, and in that time I started this blog. It was partly the result of a November visit from an old college friend, who suggested that the Mrs. and I start a blog together (we’re still talking about a joint blog, but she has had other projects on her mind), partly the Mrs. telling me to just go ahead and do it, and partly my own attempt to start writing again for pleasure. I needed to engage the creative part of my brain again, if only to convince myself that I was not as dull as I was beginning to think I was.

Creating the blog was relatively easy, and I found that I was perfectly happy to blather on ad nauseum. Lucky you, reader. More importantly, I felt the beginning of that balance I had been looking for, between solving other people’s problems at work and thinking through situations on my own, for no better reason than that I found them interesting.

Then on January 2, after my first day back at work since before Christmas, over a glass of wine with Mrs. Unfocused after the kids had gone to bed, I rattled off a complete synopsis of Meet the Larssons. I started knocking out some notes on the computer, and ending up spending the next several hours writing down the idea, ending up with four or five pages of typed notes and a hand-drawn organizational chart for the structure of the business discussed in the novel.

Since then, I have let the novel and the blog take over whatever free mental space I had. For a while, it was the novel. For the last week or two, the honeymoon has been over for the novel (I’m not done yet? What the hell!), and I’m more obsessed with the blog: how many hits today? any new comments? why is my Technorati authority stuck at 4? I’m sleeping less than I was when all I did was work, because when it was just work, I wanted to put it down and go to sleep. Now, it takes a real effort of will to close the laptop.

As I write this, I can see why it is so easy to get sucked in by the blog, and comparatively hard to work on the novel. It isn’t that the novel is harder to write; on the contrary, the novel is much easier to write than these blog posts. I know where the novel is going and largely how to get there; on the blog, it’s a different topic every day, and most of the time I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I sit down and start typing. No, the reason why the blog is so hard to resist and the novel is so easy to put down is that there is no feedback on the novel. I keep checking my word count (I hit 30K on Friday, on the train home from work) and updating it on the little graphic on the sidebar, because that’s the only way I have to keep score, and frankly, it’s pretty damn unsatisfying. With the blog, I have page views. Comments. Mrs. Unfocused even reads it, and I can ask her to give me comments on posts before I publish them, which is handy. But I would be uncomfortable showing anyone the incomplete pile of mush that Meet the Larssons is now. So there’s no feedback, no reward. My little lizard brain likes rewards, and it doesn’t think very far ahead. Maybe I need to promise myself a new toy when I hit 50K words, just to give myself something to work towards.

Don’t get me wrong: between the blogging and the novel, as well as the time I’ve taken just to spend with the Mrs. and the Unfocused offspring, the last seven weeks have been terrific. I’m going to spend a little less time on the blog this week in order to spend more time on the novel, but I doubt I’ll get any more sleep. And I’ll still keep checking those page views and comments, just to keep score.

Up next in the chain is Auria Cortes; remember to check out her blog over the next few days to see what she makes of this topic.

Sitting in the author chair after a long absence

Between 11:30pm on Wednesday night and this evening, the draft of Meet the Larssons grew by precisely zero words. I had day job obligations, and my mother came out for a long-awaited visit over the weekend, and then I had more work to do and packing for a business trip. This evening, though, I’m stuck in a hotel room in the middle of nowhere. I had dinner with a colleague, then I puttered around in the room for a while, but finally I couldn’t avoid it any more and sat down in front of my office (Windows, bleah) laptop, opened up the file containing Chapter 10 which I exported from Scrivener before I left, and started typing.

I typed a paragraph.

God, hotel rooms make me nuts. They’re so confining. There’s nowhere to pace. I can never sleep in hotel rooms. Apparently, I can’t concentrate worth a damn, either.

I needed music. My iPod is running low on juice, and I have no good music on my office computer, so I clicked on one of Yahoo! Music’s free Internet radio stations.

I checked my email. I got up to use the bathroom. I typed another paragraph. I went down to the lobby, got change, and bought a Diet Pepsi from the vending machine. I hate Diet Pepsi. I went back to my room.

I decided that I hated the music on the Internet radio station. I opened up iTunes. No good music.

I went to the iTunes store and bought an album I once listened to on permanent replay 18 hours a day for 10 days straight in my room while studying for Winter Quarter law school exams my second year, scaring the hell out of my roommates, so much so that they had a talk with Mrs. Unfocused (then known as the Unfocused Fiancee), which has to be a violation of the Code of Guys. She didn’t say anything until exams were over, for which I was profoundly grateful, but it was clear that I would be watched for signs of imminent psychotic breakdown until I got rid of the CD. Since I had actually borrowed it from a friend, I simply returned it after exams, and haven’t listened to it since.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I started playing the album. I felt less restless. I typed another three pages. Much better. I may have appeared a little deranged that exam period, but I was very, very productive.

All told, this evening I packed in another 1,037 words. For a few minutes there, though, I was a little concerned that coming back to the book after a few days off was going to be a problem. Apparently, a little familiar music — linked to a period when I sat in a small room for hours on end without leaving my chair — was all I needed.

If you’re in room 411 or room 415 and you can hear my music, though, I apologize. I’ll try to write without it tomorrow.