As I mentioned just a day or so ago, I’m in transition. And as I move from being a full-time professor to a full-time writer, I am aware of things going on in my head. As I have said a couple of times before, it’s all mind games.
I have two final exams to give tomorrow, and another on Wednesday. I spent the morning grading the exams from last Friday, catching up on other grading that I have slacked off on, doing some research for an Insight article, and generally just trying to clear off my desk. And as I clear my desk and narrow my priority list, I feel a familiar sensation.
The first time I spent vacation time writing on a novel, Shelly (my wife) laughed at me. Not because I was trying to write a novel, but because of what it did to me. I write my best when I am in the zone, when all I see is the story, when I am immersed in the characters and the world in which they live. And I have to clear the decks (both literal and mental) in order to get to that point.
But it is refreshing to me to get there. It means that I am making mental headway. Have you ever seen a movie where something significant happens to a main character and the camera zooms in on the character while the background zooms out? It’s like that. I sense the world around me, but when I am in the zone, it’s like I am only partly there for the rest of it. That’s why Shelly laughed at me. She would be talking over the dinner table about what happened in her day, or that we needed to buy groceries, and I would suddenly say, “That’s it! I finally figured out how I will kill off Character A.” She’s learned that when I am at that point, all she can do is be patient and cut me some slack. I will be gone for, oh, a month or two. I will still take out the garbage and other things that need doing, but mentally…I’m in la-la land.
And that’s what I am feeling. And considering the tasks I have placed before myself, it’s just what I need.
Tunnel vision, here I come.