“Slowly I Turned”: Multi-tasking
Firstly, I have to say that I’m still enjoying NaNoWriMo, though I am currently about 500 words behind schedule. I keep hitting that point where I have to choose between writing and eating with clean spoons. When one writes at a normal pace, mundane necessities of this sort fall into place around each other; at a speed of 2000 words per day, those same quotidians end up flying left and right—or, which is equally likely, end up knocking the word-count bullet-train off its tracks in a mass of flaming, twisted wreckage.
Nowhere does this end up more evident than in the smallest and most mundane chores. For example, this past week my primary failing has been exercise. During the late summer / early autumn period, I determined to establish a habit of exercising for half an hour first thing in the morning. I had gotten quite pleased with myself, because it looked as if the habit were catching hold. Now? Since the beginning of November, things have slipped a bit… and a bit more… and then last week things plummeted. By yesterday, I felt like I qualified to teach a master class on how to turn oneself effortlessly into a blancmange from the comfort of one’s favorite recliner.
I have never believed in multi-tasking. It has always been my assumption that, whenever I hear someone describe themselves as a good multi-tasker, it simply means that they are proficient at doing many things poorly at the same time. The human mind is not designed for multitasking in the modern sense. Human relationships are not designed for multitasking. I say this because the essence of relationship is to be present, and multitasking is the exact opposite of presence. Even the effort to be present in your own life, to experience and to observe as well as to participate, requires a level of single-mindedness that multi-taskers can’t begin to fathom.
Single-mindedness I can do. I quite enjoy it, in fact, especially where it concerns writing. On a good day, I can sit down to write at, say, four-thirty in the afternoon; when I next look at the clock, it’s past eight in the evening. Chances are good that I only looked up because I hadn’t visited the W.C. in more than three hours. However, there are several other things I didn’t do during those three-plus hours: wash dishes, cook a meal, clean the hard water deposits off shower walls, take out the trash. At a leisurely writing pace, it wouldn’t matter, because the next night I might only write for half an hour after I’d taken care of all these other things first. At this pace? I have to set a timer. Seriously, I do. Put in a load of laundry to wash, set the timer for half an hour, write until the timer goes off, switch the laundry from washer to dryer, set the timer for an hour, and so forth. It’s like being a little clockwork figure. Otherwise, I’d end up writing until the flies started to swarm and the neighbors started to gossip about whether I had died in here or what.
Mainly, I just remind myself that this is a temporary experiment in writing, and that I can declare December as National Household Deep-Cleaning Month if I need to do so. That is, always assuming that I’m still able to hoist my white-blancmange carcass out of this chair. The cleaning can be sketchy without really affecting my creativity—but the exercising is another matter. Without exercise, my brain shrivels into a raisin inside my brain. (Be proud of me: I exercised for half an hour in the morning and half an hour after work today!) So, now that I’ve plumped up my mental capacities, it’s back to the manuscript. Until next week!