When I was an undergrad, I developed a rather impressive ability to tune out almost anything in order to study. My first roommate was a music major, so ignoring noise was a useful skill to cultivate. This trait was even more finely honed in graduate school, and it served me in good stead to be able to study my boring textbooks while the rest of my family was watching television or doing other things. It’s a skill I share with my mother-in-law actually, and useful, as both our spouses prefer for us to be in the room with them while they do other things (we can read through anything). It’s a skill that I have applied to my writing. Very useful when I want to “Protect the writing”. I’m often set up in the den while my hubby is watching TV or playing video games or whatever. I lose myself in my own little world and for all intents and purposes, am here only in body. I completely and totally disconnect from reality.
Of late this has caused no little bit of friction with my husband. There have been some angry words on both sides as he’s tired of “being ignored” and “having to repeat every single thing”, and I’m tired of being interrupted. You see, my husband is the ultimate multi-tasker. As a 911 Emergency Dispatcher, he routinely monitors over 20 radio channels simultaneously. So when he speaks, he expects me to hear and respond the first time because he would. We had a lengthy discussion about this in the car today, and he was pacified by my insistence that I don’t do it on purpose (because I don’t…I really don’t hear him). So I am supposed to make an effort be better about paying attention. I do know how to be an active listener–I was a therapist in a former life, for Pete’s sake. But being an active listener and an active writer–these seem to be mutually exclusive for me. So I’m not sure what the solution is going to be (though I suspect that it will involve specific writing times from x hour to y hour, in my office, with the door shut so he can’t even try to talk to me).
One thing that contributes to the problem is the fact that not only am I fabulous at disconnecting from reality–I like it that way. I’m far more interested in the worlds I create and the people who inhabit them than I am in my day to day reality. This isn’t to say that I don’t care about the people in my life–quite the contrary. But the lives of my characters are just a lot more, well, interesting than my day to day existence. And if it isn’t the lives of my characters, it’s the lives of the characters in whatever book I’m reading (last night and today it was Phoebe MacNamara and Duncan Swift…and hubby took pity on me and left me alone for the last 40 pages, as we had a long and exhausting day with my mother). I’m not sure exactly what this says about me–my distaste for reality. I rarely keep up with the news, as it’s usually bad, and I don’t see why I should ruin my day over something I can do nothing about. Insular and horrible, I know. But there you have it. I would rather exist in the worlds I create. I suppose if I’m ever trapped in my mind in old age, it won’t be such a horrible fate…trying to find the positive here.
So do any of you other writers out there have problems with family or friends due to your own disconnect from reality? And if so, how do you deal with it?