Squirrels in the Attic, Bats in the Belfry

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There’s this rumor going around that I’m a writer. An author, to be more specific. It must be true—I just completed the paperwork for my kid to move up to Boy Scouts from Cub Scouts, and in the “parent occupation” field I wrote “author.” Felt pretty good, I have to admit. I have three books published and another on the way in July, so I can finally call myself an author without feeling like an impostor.

And yet…(you just knew there was going to be an “and yet”, didn’t you?) there’s one small problem. I guess, if you had to pin a word on it, it’d be “life.” I haven’t worked on a new book—heck, haven’t written one word—since I wrapped up the copy edits on my last MS. That wasn’t so long ago, but it feels like it. When I’m not writing, I just feel guilty, because I should be.

And yet…(there it is again!) life has indeed gotten in the way. A bit. Just a bit. Oh, nothing huge, aside from my mom’s fall (she’s doing much better now). Simply “stuff” that happens. Winter illnesses. School projects that required my assistance. My son finishing up Cub Scouts and, consequently, my stint as their communications person coming to a close, so I had to pass that baton. This year’s Odyssey of the Mind competition—an all-pervasive, soul-sucking, absolutely wonderful experience for kids and even their coaches—yep, I coached, and my son competed…on a different team. Both our teams moved on to the state competition but (thank goodness) lost out on slots at the world finals (my son’s team by fewer than two points—yikes).

Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but all those things put together added up to several months of a chaotically disrupted routine. And a disrupted routine, with so many other things demanding attention—and getting higher priority—means a writer manages not to write. Because everything else seems so much more urgent, you know? And heck, writers can write anywhere, anytime. We’ll squeeze it in. Right?

Koff. Hasn’t happened quite yet, but I’m sure it will.

Besides, things are calming down. Mom’s mobile, kid’s in the home stretch of elementary school (when did that happen?!), spring has finally sprung…and it just might stick this time, if we’re lucky. Once I kicked my son back into play after a week-and-a-half-long spring break, I had every intention of buckling down and starting Book 5.

And then came the squirrels. Living in our attic.

Yeah, even though there are plenty of trees in the neighborhood, they chose to take up residence in our crawlspace. Let’s face it—they’re cute, but they’re not too bright, so their reasoning probably went something like this: “Hey! This thing is like a tree. It’s tall. It’s made of wood. And it has built-in nesting material—pink’s not my choice of color, and it’s a little scratchy, but it’s convenient. Plus it’s close to the seed game—you know, the container that guy keeps filling? The one we have to climb up to and then figure out how to break into to get at the good food?” In other words, perfect location, according to squirrel logic.

And so, at 6 a.m. today, I was awakened by something akin to this: SCRITCHSCRATCHBONKSHUFFLESCRATCHRUSTLEBONKBONKBONK.

An I Can Has Cheezburger original

An I Can Has Cheezburger original

From overhead, on the other side of the ceiling. Or maybe in the wall. Who knows? All I do know is it was way too close to me, and so loud and heavy I thought they were going to come through the plaster. (Maybe the little effers are getting access to a little too much of the birdseed, know’msayin’?)

So now I must think about this. How to evict squirrels from my house. And how much it’s going to cost to get the riding mower serviced. And chaperoning the elementary school trip to Niagara Falls. And clearing and planting the garden. And…crap.

A whole new set of distractions has arisen, hasn’t it?

Yeah, distractions always come along. But I can’t stop writing. No, I mean it—I can’t. As any author will tell you, it’s just not physically possible. Stories come into the head, and they must be written down. They demand it. So I’ll manage it somehow. Probably at 2 a.m., when the house is finally quiet. Possibly with a sleeping squirrel on my head.

Best outcome: the squirrel occupation story ends up as a plot device in my next book.

While I’m working up to writing another book, check out some great authors’ blog posts as part of Julie Valerie’s Hump Day Blog Hop!

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10 responses »

  1. Jayne!!!! Oh, thank you!!! I have not laughed that hard in a long time. The squirrels!!! As far as life in general, I feel EXACTLY the way that you do. Finding time to write feels damn near impossible with all of the things that life throws at us (Like squirrels! HA!) and the amount of time you have to spend on social media to keep up with everything. I am often torn with how to spend my time because I just LOVE connecting with you and all of the other wonderful people that we know, but how in the heck is the next book going to be written? I suppose that one day we will be able to solve that mystery. If I find the answer, I promise to share! I think that it just may involve a time machine…

    • Hi Glynis! Funny how we both wrote about general life insanity recently, isn’t it? Running a household—and being a writer at the same time—isn’t for the faint of heart, that’s for sure! And yes, I am totally consumed by social media—o the hours that sucks up! But it’s necessary—not just for marketing purposes, but to keep ourselves sane by connecting with other like-minded folks, not to mention having a connection to the outside world! 🙂

  2. NO! NO! NO!!!!! Not squirrels in the attic!! My dad has been waging a war against squirrels for 40 years. Some of his stories and attempts to drive them off are nothing short of hilarious.

    Perhaps you’ve got an opening scene for Book #5? Or perhaps, the entire book can be about a woman who slowly comes undone chasing the squirrels. I know about 24.3 million people in America would snatch that book up. Scratch that. (Excuse the pun.) 183 million. Not everyone is waging war against the rodents – but darn near everybody.

    Thanks for hopping along the Hump Day Blog Hop. I’m having so much fun cruising around to the different blogs!

    • Hahaha I know, right? Honestly, this morning I was quoting Bill Murray in Caddyshack: “In order to conquer the animal, I have to learn to think like an animal. And, whenever possible, to look like one.” (Yes, complete with the goofy twisted facial expression!) We do all have a squirrel-war tale to share…maybe I will share mine in print!

  3. Oh my gosh! I remember those days as if yesterday. Well sweet pea, I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it N-E-V-E-R ends. We have been empty-nesters for about 12 years, retired, but neither my husband nor I ever seem to have the time we thought we would to do all those things we could never get to when our kids were young. The only difference now is that I can go to the bathroom in peace without one of my kids standing outside the door asking if they can do something, go somewhere.
    I loved your post – it is all too familiar!

  4. This post made me think of the easily distracted dog in the movie UP. “Squirrel!” Oy. The last thing someone needs, on top of the everyday craziness of life – squirrels in the attic. Good luck with that, and thanks for the smiles. 🙂

  5. We all have our own squirrels to fight. Social media, my day job, and family are definitely three very big squirrels in my life. But here’s the thing (and you touched on it at the end of your post), we have to make the time. Whether it’s at 2 a.m., AFTER the rest of the family has gone to bed or (as I prefer) at 4:30 a.m., BEFORE everyone else is up. Or on Saturdays, when everyone else is chillin’ in their PJs, watching movies. We have to put on that bra and head for the nearest Panera and put in some writing time. We also have to be forgiving when we’re just not feelin’ it, though. Because crap in, crap out. So sometimes watching the squirrels provides the perfect inspiration. Embrace the squirrel!!!!!

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