Yes, I know, some are more cute and cuddly than others. But when it comes to achieving my writing goals, they both do an impressive job getting in the way.
This past week I set extremely unambitious goals because I expected life to get in the way. I just didn't expect it to BLOCK the way.
Life, the universe, or something put up a ginormous roadblock that prevented me from making a single iota of progress on my novel.
I confronted that hulking roadblock, daring it to declare itself:
Duck or Demon?
"Ducks" are those responsibilities I feel obligated to attend to: family stuff, house stuff, health stuff, etc. I try to keep them all in a nice orderly row so that my life runs smoothly and I can accomplish everything I want to accomplish, including my writing.
"Demons" are nuisances, distractions, deterrents and temptations that get in the way of writing and threaten to derail me from achieving my goals.
If I told you that my roadblock involved the Swedish Embassy and oral surgery, you'd probably say, "No question: DEMON."
But hold the phone. You're jumping to conclusions based on your knowledge of the anguish typically experienced when encountering bureaucracy and high-powered dental tools. I agree they're unpleasant, unpopular and unforgiving, but that doesn't necessarily make them demons. At least not writing demons.
As I stared at the massive, oozing roadblock in front of me, trying to figure out a way around, across or through it, I had some time to think. So I pondered for awhile the real difference between my ducks and my demons....and I concluded:
What I mean to say is, when a demon gets in my way, I know I'm supposed to get rid of him. I don't always make that choice, like when it comes to eMal or Davy Jones (the Demon of Facebook), but that's beside the point. The fact is, demons should be banished. I know that and you know that. It might as well be law.
But ducks? They have every right to be there. Family. Friends. Chores. Errands. Appointments. Even taxes.
We don't get rid of them (at least not usually). We can't. They're obligations. Responsibilities. Facts of life.
We don't always like them, but we accept them. We have to. Again, law.
So back to my colossal roadblock of Embassy red tape and wisdom tooth extraction--
Family obligation. Duty. Responsibility.
Ducks. Clearly ducks.
And if it quacks like a duck, well, you know what I did.
I treated that roadblock like one giant duck.
Why? Because then I would have at least tried to write.
Instead I paced back and forth in front of the roadblock, clenching my teeth to keep from cursing obscenities.
(If you must know, it's possible an obscenity or two slipped out.) I accepted without question that I had to take care of
my son's apparently-impossible-to-obtain-in-a-timely-manner Student Visa and my other son's quadruple wisdom tooth extractions, complete with the requisite buying of ice cream, and the mandatory making and delivering of milkshakes.
Of course I had to take care of those things. I'm not saying I didn't.
So what am I saying? That I used them as an excuse not to even try to work on my novel.
There. I admitted it. I could probably have gotten at least a tiny bit of writing done if I'd tried. But I didn't try. I called a duck a duck and I treated it as such. Had I just called it a demon.... Who knows what I might have accomplished?
So next time you face a writing roadblock, ask yourself:
Don't be afraid to put on your demon-colored glasses.