Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

TV

First, thanks to all of you who have popped in to take a read and decided to stay as a result of Carrie’s ‘Liebster’ of this space. I appreciate it! Thanks again, Carrie! It’s a nice balance considering I’ve just come through one of the most frustrating weeks of writing that I’ve had since I started down this path last year. Nothing really seemed to work right for me, starting with my Writer’s Group last week, where I managed to half-complete two piles of junk ‘inspired’ (and I use the term very, very loosely) by four guys playing a beanbag-toss game just outside the door. The only worthwhile thing to come out of that for me was the phrase ‘lentil-laden projectile.’ That’s a keeper.

During the week I got badly hung up on Chapter 21 of Parallel Lives. I decided it needed reworking, and I put a huge effort into it. I’m still not happy with it. The idea of the chapter is good, but the execution is not. Bleah.

I do have theory why I’m having so much trouble with it. Actually, two. The first one? I’m distracted. By TV. That’s bad.

I’ll blame my daughter. She got herself hooked, courtesy of a friend, on Dr. Who. Sometime during the winter they had a sleepover and binged on Dr. Who reruns. Several times during the recently-completed season they got together for viewing parties. Considering what I did on Saturday nights when I was seventeen, I’m pretty grateful that they’re staying up late watching British sci-fi/fantasy TV. Over time I got sucked into it, too, though I’m no Who-vian. And I lost whatever shred of ‘cool’ I have when I mistakenly referred to the actor currently playing The Doctor as ‘David Smith.’ Matt Smith is the current doctor, David Tennant was the previous one. I think it’s a forgivable mistake. Their reaction to my gaffe was kind of like this:

Hmm, I’ve finally figured out how to get a Youtube video to start at a particular point. Unfortunately, you can’t seem to make it stop at a particular point.

With the season on summer hiatus (the BBC apparently doesn’t work in the same way as American television) my daughter decided that we really needed to catch up on all the episodes, going back to when the series was resurrected back in 2005 (she’s already done this at least once on her own). So, through the magic of Netflix we went back and watched. And watched. And watched. We finally caught up this week. Whew.
Meanwhile, about two weeks ago, my wife started watching Ally McBeal. I didn’t watch a whole lot of Ally McBeal back in the day (and yes, I’m old enough to have been an adult when it was running, just as I’m old enough to remember when The Simpsons were an occasional short segment on the Tracey Ullman Show); I guess I just had other stuff I liked better. But my wife started watching at her computer right behind me and, try as I might to block it out by turning up the music, it filtered in. Next thing you know, we’re on to season 2. So now I had Dr. Who and Ally McBeal going.

But it gets worse. TV is like a whirlpool (in a cesspool), and it sucked at me down. Last week, for reasons I cannot explain, I went to the well of Netflix myself and started watching Weeds from the beginning. I’d started watching it casually about three years ago, so now I have the chance to catch up on that one, too! Great! So I’ve gone from barely watching any TV (except for hockey and Seinfeld reruns) to spending hours and hours on Netflix. Not good. While the shows in question are all quite good, I have to wonder if the time spent watching them is impacting my writing muscles.

Of course, this being me, I am also entertaining another possibility. TV could be a symptom, not the disease itself. I’ve made two passes through Parallel Lives already. I’ve taken out a lot, and added some things in. I may be going to ‘the glass teat’ (I think it was Stephen King who called it that) because I’ve reached the end of what I can do with this book without outside help. I think, friends, that it’s time I found me a couple of readers.

Hmmm, I wonder if I can get Malcolm in the Middle on Instant queue….

4 Responses

  1. I'm new to your blog but I'd love to be a beta reader/critique person if you need one! I love reading other peoples' work. I usually learn a lot. Also Ally McBeal was my FAVORITE show! Other than Lost, I haven't seen anything that could top Ally McBeal. I waited years before they finally came out with full seasons of it on DVD here in the U.S. Great post. I feel your frustration. I've had a lot of times like this–where I'm stuck on a piece of writing and can't tear myself away from the television! Good luck.

  2. I'm glad the Liebster helped distract you from that week of yours. It sounds like it was pretty frustrating. As for the TV issue, well, I think we've all been there. I think it's just one of those phases we go through, when we're caught on something. Hopefully you'll get back on track soon. Great post! 🙂

  3. Thank you for the comments, ladies. Lisa, I never got into 'Lost', I'm not sure why. I stopped watching a lot of prime time TV I think when my kids were too old to be put to bed for the night at 7PM but too young for watching that stuff. Thanks for the offer to read, I'll definitely consider it once I'm sure I'm ready to take that step.

    Carrie, the Liebster was definitely a good distraction. It's also been fun seeing the reactions of the people I 'tagged'. Thanks once more!

  4. I empathise completely with the TV distraction, Jeff. It's easy to fall into that trap. I've been meaning to reply to your extremely generous liebstering of me – I need to find some other new bloggers to pass on the favour to.

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