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Author Antics Disturbed, Distracted, and Dysfunctional

If the sight of two men emptying a septic tank makes you wonder if there’s a body in there, you might be a writer.

Writers live for “being in The Zone” not the Twilight Zone, but something close to it. It’s that magical place where the words are riding in on the jet stream and about to blow you away if you don’t start typing faster. If you’re a writer, you know the place I’m talking about—the place where the story lives. If you’re a reader you’ve had a glimpse of it when you “see” the story.

In another setting, this is classified as a mental illness. Back in my day, it was called bipolar disorder. I shudder to think what it may be called now and so refused to look up the appropriate name while writing this. The person in their manic phase will do almost anything to keep the high going and forestall the inevitable crash into depression.

Sound familiar, writers?

However, The Zone, that little corner of paradise we love, is not where writers spend most of their time. That spot is reserved for being disturbed, distracted and dysfunctional.

Every writer knows that, outside their personal fortress of solitude, the sight of you with an open laptop signals the world that you’re not busy with anything important. In defense of those who do not write and are masters of multitasking, this makes perfect sense. They can entertain many subjects at the same time without losing what each task calls for. I know writers who say they can do this. All I can say is—you’re blessed. For me to make a scene live, I must be there and the “there” vanishes the moment I leave it.

I admit there are times when I avoid writing, usually went I’m at a loss for words. When that happens, I can really get into cleaning the house, doing dishes, walking the dog—anything but face the page. If I could help it, I would never sit by the window in school. That pane of glass was a portal to a world of adventuresome distractions. Writing is supposed to be like that, and it is, except when it isn’t. Sometimes I need to escape from the escape that isn’t working.

Given all of that, it stands to reason that when I am in the Zone and at my best as a writer, I’m basically dysfunctional in the real world. My head is filled with swamps, prowling creatures, gun fights, and conjuring up trouble for my heroes. I don’t see the dog or the kids getting into mischief. I forget appointments and where I’m supposed to be.

Being disturbed, distracted, and dysfunctional writers seems to lend an air of mystery and romance to writers and their craft, but only to those on the outside looking in. The words have a different meaning for us.

Jack LaFountain

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An awesome post, and very relatable,

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