Saturday, I couldn’t figure out why my ability to focus seemed to have gone out the window. I’d gotten the edits for the next Merchant book in, those that had already come in. I’d finished the d’Vosges story draft. Day Job was pretty much wrapped up aside from one admin thing that had to wait on a third party. So why was I staring at a story, unable (or unwilling) to buckle down and write? I had a similar problem reading. I have a thick TBR stack to get through this summer, and sitting and reading for more than a chapter at time seemed impossible. I had too much energy, or I was fighting to stay awake.
The weather played a role. We’ve gone from drought to flood. Literally flood, as the Canadian River is reaching levels not seen in over 25 years, and other streams are bursting their banks and causing major transportation snarls as well as inundating homes and businesses (Hereford, Texas and Rita Blanca Creek did not get along well this past weekend.) Palo Duro Canyon state park has had lots of flooding and road closures, and the hiking trails were also closed because of wash-outs and mud. Lakes that people assumed were empty forever abruptly have water in them again. This is great, but it also gets old if you are not used to daily rain and high humidity. The constant grey and other people’s worries were chewing on me.
Part of it is trying to sort out transportation to and from an event. In the big scheme of things, it’s a very minor concern, but it’s still there.
Then I realized the problem. A chunk of my feeling scattered came from the lack of urgent deadlines and pressure. This spring has been odder than usual, for a host of reasons, most of them far outside my control. Everyone around me was running at flank speed from April 15 until this past Thursday, or so it felt. As event and deadline piled on each other, tension got higher. Some things happened that left grumbling, muttering, and frustration in their wake, mostly because it was a case of “Oh please, not NOW. I have no time to deal with this.” Except my associates and I dealt with it. That’s what grownups do.
And then it stopped. Everything stopped. No more race-stop-race. Welcome or unwelcome, everything wrapped up. There was no gradual taper down as often happens, no steady slowing. Instead it just ended, period. That’s … odd. And so I found myself without a looming deadline, without stacks of incoming and outgoing pages. No outside pressure remained. I stared at the screen, thinking I had to be doing a lot of something else, or fighting off a nap. (The cool, humid, grey weather wasn’t helping that bit.)
Once I realized what the problem was, or rather, the lack of problem, I pushed through and got things done. I can force myself to get back into the habit of concentrating. But it still feels odd not to have an external deadline trying to run me over.