Unintentional multi-tasking

I do quite a lot of multi-tasking at work, mostly when people phone me with urgent questions about why their password doesn’t work as I juggle with statistics or try to wrestle a recalcitrant Crystal Report into submission.

I try to avoid doing it with writing. I can tie myself in stubborn enough knots with one plot, so I really don’t need to have five others vying for position at the front of my mind at the same time. Of course I do have a secret compartment at the back of my brain for vague story ideas that I might work on at some point, but that doesn’t really count as multi-tasking. It’s more like a familiar tune playing somewhere in the background which I would only notice if it stopped.

For various reasons I am currently working on three writing tasks at once. I think the only saving grace is that they are different types of task. But even so, I can’t help feeling each of them would progress more satisfactorily if I concentrated on it to the exclusion of everything else.

It’s partly the fault of Lulu – not the Glaswegian singer but the printing company. Once i had finished my first set of edits of ‘The Four Seasons Quest’ last Sunday, I prepared the file for printing and ordered a copy from Lulu. I do this for several reasons:

  • seeing the novel in print is in itself very encouraging
  • reading through it quite quickly as if it were a published book helps me to pick up the remaining plot glitches
  • reading through it again very slowly helps me to pick up the remaining typos
  • I can stick post-its in it to mark the places where I have to make changes
  • it is less hassle than actually trusting my home printer to print 250 pages without a paper jam or urgent ink emergency.

Having ordered the paper copy, I then convinced myself I would have time to write a novella for a projected anthology before the paperback actually arrived. In addition I started to make more detailed notes for my projected NaNoWriMo novel (‘Pitkirtly VII’ – the notes haven’t yet become detailed enough for me to choose a title) and became quite enthused about that, which is always a good feeling.

On Monday, I started to write the novella (more on this later), for which, uncharacteristically, I already had an outline and research notes. On Tuesday the paperback copy arrived from Lulu. Of course it was too much to expect that I would meekly put it aside and write more of the novella before embarking on my sequence of readings. So here I am on Saturday trying to divide my time fairly amongst the three projects. I think only ruthless scheduling will help me get through this!

Congratulations to Lulu on this excellent service. But why, oh why did you do it?!

Coincidentally we now also have a nightmare scenario in my theatre group, which is that preparations for the annual pantomime have begun while we’re still working on the October show! More on this story later too.

The Four Seasons Quest

The Four Seasons Quest (not the final cover)


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