Friday, June 14, 2013

Wait Till He Sees a Cell Phone

I was waiting in line this morning as a gas station cashier explained the customer discount program.

Cashier: You see, you swipe this card, and it keeps track of your purchases. When you reach $50, you get a discount.
Man: I understand THAT part. But how does this card work?
Cashier: You swipe it, like a credit card.
Man: But how does it know what I'm buying?
Cashier: It tracks your purchase. When you swipe the magnetic stripe.
Man: What is it? What tracks my purchase?
Cashier: The system that the cards are connected to.
Man: But how? HOW does it know? How can it possibly KNOW that?

At this time, I decided a) to purchase coffee elsewhere, and b) to first check the parking lot for the pile of discarded colonial garb this man shed when he was transported from the mists of the past. I really need a new tricorn hat.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Method is Madness

Days of peace and quiet at home often leave me barely able to write a word. But after an hour in a loud, crowded coffee shop, I'm more than 1,500 words farther into this short story I've been struggling to finish. 

For some reason, I seem to be more able to tune out the distractions in my brain when I have to focus on tuning out other distractions as well. 

Can some expert on brain function explain this one, please? 

I have a hard time writing with loved ones nearby. If someone looks over my shoulder, it cripples me for hours. But give me a room full of boisterous strangers, and all of a sudden the flow starts. It is as though the noise actually drowns out my internal distractions.

Do other writers experience this? Where do you write? Do you have to have particular conditions, objects, temperatures? Are you picky about needing your favorite chair or music or brand of whiskey (and if so, does this need make you feel guilty?) 

Or can you do this thing wherever you are, whenever you need to? If so, please send instructions. Because my inspirations and capacity for focus seem to hit in large, loud crowds, while I'm driving (I've occasionally voicemailed myself with poem and story ideas; I suppose it's better than texting), and at around 3 in the morning when I should be asleep.

Send in the clowns. They seem to help me think.