Tricia L. McDonald is no stranger to writing. As CEO of Splattered Ink Press (www.splatteredinkpress.com), Tricia has a hands-on approach to guiding others in the writing process. She is an internationally published author, a public speaker, and writing coach who lives and writes in West Michigan. As a volunteer, Tricia teaches writing classes to local senior citizen organizations. Her Life With Sally series: Little White Dog Tails, Still Spinnin’ Tails, Waggin’ More Tails, and Princess Tails are compilations of stories chronicling life with her miniature bull terrier. Quit Whining Start Writing: A Novelist’s Guide to Writing is a book to help writers put away the excuses and get the writing done.
Hi, my name is Tricia and I am a procrastinator. I am the Master Procrastinator. I can put off a task indefinitely yet appear to be the queen of productivity.
For instance, I needed to write a personal essay for an online group I joined several weeks ago. I even paid for the class, hoping that would help me forego the usual writing procrastination I am so skilled at. So far, I’m out the money and still far ahead in the Procrastination Derby.
Last night I decided it was time to get serious and finish this bit of writing, but I was sure it could wait until morning. I still had a great book to read and a glass of Baileys and cream sitting on my bed stand. Writing would entail getting out of bed, turning on my laptop, etc. Instead, I would think about the essay and begin writing first thing tomorrow.
In the morning, Sally, our dog, started licking my face, which in dog language means, “I need to go out NOW!” I struggled to look at the clock. It was only 6 a.m. I took Sally outside and then stumbled back into bed. I lifted the covers and she dove underneath, burrowing into the cave made by my bent legs. A couple hours later Sally was sitting on my pillow, staring into my face. This means, “Feed me.” It was time to get up.
That would have been a great time to get to my writing, but I was hungry and had the whole day ahead for writing. And I still needed to think about my essay some more. So my husband and I headed out for breakfast. Too much food later – eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns – I was in a food coma when we left the restaurant.
Now it was off to Home Depot, where I convinced my husband we needed to purchase a new grill. We barely grill, maybe twice a year, three times if we have people over, but I love how a grill looks on the deck. It is the appearance of home-cooked meals, even though we eat out most of the time. Besides, someday we’ll start grilling more, and then we’ll be ready.
At home, I turned on my laptop and stared out the sliders. A cardinal and a woodpecker shared the sunflower seed, while chickadees flitted off and on the thistle birdfeeder. The sun was shining and the out of doors beckoned me. I would just fill the feeders while the computer warmed up.
I changed into a t-shirt and jeans and tossed my sweater into the dirty-clothes basket. Hmmm, guess it wouldn’t hurt to start a load of laundry. While I’m at it, I might as well change the sheets on the bed and gather the dirty towels from the various bathrooms. As I pulled the laundry soap out of the cupboard, I noticed the container of hummingbird food. I would fill those feeders, too … and I couldn’t forget the oriole feeder. I would make a batch of nectar while I was at it.
After every species of bird in the near vicinity had been fed, I decided to water the hanging plants. They looked a little weary, and I decided I might as well feed them too. I dug through the pole barn until I found the plant food. But it was left over from last season and rock-hard. I grabbed a screwdriver from my husband’s workbench and managed to loosen some of the mix but also punched a hole through the bottom of the container. Plant food spilled onto the concrete floor, mixing with the mulch from last week’s procrastination. I salvaged as much as I could and scooped it into the watering can. Then I noticed the flat of impatiens waiting to be planted. They were still in their plastic containers, drooping ever so slightly.
I scrounged around in the pole barn until I found a basket with a liner for the impatient impatiens. Where did this come from? I thought. Oh, yeah, that yard sale over on Mercury Drive. My first house after the divorce. That’s where we were when Jake begged to adopt those rats from his third-grade teacher. I wonder what Jake is doing today?
Back in the house, I picked up the phone and called him. I walked around the house as we chatted and looked at the light blinking on my computer. It was challenging me, calling me to begin my goal for the day.
Now the dog was humping the cat and I yelled at her. “Sally, quit humping the cat.” “What did you just say?” my son asked. We decided to talk later and I hung up. The computer winked at me again. I sat down and stared at the screen. The buzzer went off on the dryer. “I’ll be back,” I said to the cursor.
I folded the clothes from the dryer, transferred the wet ones from the washer, and started a new load. I wandered through the rooms of the house, putting away the freshly dried and folded items. Along the way, I cleaned off the bathroom counter top, straightened my husband’s underwear drawer, and refolded the towels so they lined up the same in the linen closet.
The cats were meowing at the basement door, so I went downstairs to fill their bowls. The odor from the litter boxes, which I had ignored all week, was dangerously close to becoming a live entity, so I scooped, swept, and re-filled.
I figured that as long as I was dealing with poop, I might as well go on a poop patrol outside. I armed myself with the rake and shovel and wandered around the yard looking for disgusting little piles. Once this was finished, I considered cleaning the toilets, but I had had my share of dealing with defecation for one day.
The sky was now turning cloudy and the wind was picking up, so I headed indoors. But first I needed to close the umbrellas on the deck so they wouldn’t blow away. And while I was out in the backyard, I noticed the flower beds needed to be weeded.
Finally, I was back inside and sitting at my computer. I had been trying to come up with an idea for the essay all day, but still the blank screen was daunting. Maybe I could write something about writing. I started picking at the keyboard.
The back door opened and my husband called out, “Tricia, could you help me in the garage a minute?” Ahhh, the procrastination gods had saved me once again.