On Distraction


As a full-time college teacher, I find that the summer is usually the time when I can deeply immerse myself in my writing projects. This year, though, I have taken on the role of Summer Director of MFA Programs in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago, which means that I have to spend more days a week at the office than I prefer. I could write there, I suppose, between emails and meetings, and I have. A little. But I am more the sort of writer who wants to be in my own (or a designated) writing space, away from the work distractions, feeling uninterrupted and, well, a little self-righteous as I clack away at my keyboard when others are out swimming, vacationing, sun-soaking.

So the new writing, or rather, new rewriting (because damnit! I am on draft ten or so of this damn novel, and this one has to be the one!) has been coming in dribs and drabs, filling the small gaps between freelance assignments and workshop teaching and book promotion stuff (have I told you I have new book coming out? September, this year, book party details coming soon: And These are The Good Times: A Chicago gal riffs on death, sex, life, dancing, writing, wonder, loneliness, place, family, faith, coffee, and the FBI (among other things)) and, because I haven’t enough to distract me from finishing this damn novel, moving.

That, my friends, the moving part, has been the biggest distraction of all. You try squeezing into a one bedroom with killer views of Lake Michigan, but not even enough wall space to lean all of your bookcases against–from a sprawling two bedroom flat with a sunroom and deck and leafy views and a storage space bigger than the kitchen of the new place. A whole lot of muttering under my breath: “Do I love it? Do I need it? Do I use it?” and a small fortune spent on big black garbage bags and file boxes to haul away (thank god for charity shops, friends, family, Craig’s List, and neighbors who literally stood on the sidewalk waiting for us to take out the trash so they could go through it) the things we decided No, No, and No.

Killer View

But here we are, two weeks in the new pad with the killer view, eight weeks after we decided we were going to make the move, two months of sorting, sorting, sorting, replacing, replacing, replacing, arranging, arranging, arranging, and we are happy, happy, happy.

And almost done.

And the writing? In two weeks I am back on my regular school contract; in two months I will be thrown into new book mode.


I better get going.