Do you remember that writing prompt experiment I was trying in April? I only managed to get a few prompts written, for various reasons. I tried again this month, and failed miserably, but I have managed to make something decent out of the prompt from 28th May, ‘bloody footprints’.
Last one for today. The next five prompts are location based, so that should spark something at least on a couple of days. I’ll have to see how it goes. I’m happy this evening. I will have money in the bank tomorrow and my shopping turns up at lunch time. Right now I’m hungry though so I’m going to write this little story up, have a cream cracker or two and a load of water and go to bed. There will be food in my cupboards and freezer tomorrow. I can manage another 12 hours or so.
The weather suited Derek’s mood as he left yet another interview. The sixth in seven days with no job in sight, it was beginning to get him down. It looked like rain too. He slouched past the cafe where he’d applied to serve coffee to pensioners but couldn’t himself afford to go in for a cuppa, and the music shop that had wanted someone to sell records to spotty teenagers and their parents reliving their youth. Across the road was the office block where he’d gone for two interviews, with different companies, for call centre jobs. He’d heard nothing from any of them and used all his JSA paying for bus fares to get to the interviews.
The bus left as he reached the stop.
Derek sighed. “I give up.” He settled against the bus shelter to wait for the next bus. It was only an hour. His stomach rumbled. Ignoring his hunger, he closed his eyes, nodding slightly.
“‘Ere mate, you got a light?”
A Man in torn jeans and a leather jacket, zipped up to his chin, stood in front of Derek.
“Sorry, I don’t smoke any more.”
“You look like you could do with one.”
“Dicky ticker, Doctor says it’d kill me if I didn’t give up the fags.”
The man settled on the protrusion the council called a bench inside the bus shelter. He looked Derek up and down, “You been to court?”
“Interview.” Derek turned away from the road to face his companion.
“Yeah, the coppers like it when you dress up to visit them.” He indicated Derek’s suit with his still unlit cigarette.
“A job interview.”
“Nice. Sorry about presuming, don’t see many people in suits unless they’re going to court. Where’s the job?”
“Butler’s Carpets. I won’t get it though.”
“Have you tried the Co-Op?”
“Yes, and the record shop, and Molly’s Cafe. I’ve even tried the call centres. I’ve never worked in an office in my life, but I’m getting desperate.”
“That’s shit, man. It took me five years to find a job, but I finally got one. Something will come up eventually.”
“Where do you work?”
“Smyth and Waller, the solicitors on the high street.”
“I know it, they did my Will last year. What are you, the go-fer?”
“Nah, solicitor. Took me years to get a decent job.”
“Huh.” Derek was surprised, but pushed on to cover his mistake, “Day off?”
“Yep. Going to a concert tonight. We really could do with a train station in this town.”
“I’d settle for a bus that ran slightly more regularly than hourly.”
They stood in silence for a few minutes, watching the road for a bus.
Derek’s phone rang, jolting him out of the trance he’d managed to fall into.
“Derek, this is John, at Butler’s. How are you?”
“Waiting for my bus home.”
“Do you have time to come back? We’d like to discuss your pay package and start date.”
The bus was in sight, it had just turned from the high street on to the road. Derek quickly weighed up his choices.
“I’ll be there in ten minutes.”
There was another bus later. He rang off and put his phone away. The bus pulled up. Derek let the man behind him go in front and turned back the way he’d come.
“See, told you something would come up.”
I thought I’d add an addendum to my IBQ prompt post about gardens.
A fleeting weight, a flying dream, time enjoyed and free. Worry forgot, fine company.
Happy Easter, to those who celebrate it.
I missed the prompt on Wednesday, because of work, but day off so I’m going to try to write about ‘Focus’.
I have a habit, I suppose it could be called, of finding something that fascinates me and then focusing on that ‘thing’ solely for however long it can continue to hold my attention. Other people say I just go through phases, obsessive periods. I’m not the only person in this family who gets obsessed, but it’s possible I’m the only one who’s tried to work out the cause. Introvertion has its advantages that way. An introvert nature is probably also the ’cause’.
I’m so focused on absorbing as much information as possible, trying to get to the whys and wherefores that I don’t notice anything else. I just want answers. While this focus has many advantages in my creative, curiosity driven life it causes problems with the outside world, more precisely at work.
Say I’m bored by the project in hand (there’s only so many pies a person can dismember before going crazy) I won’t be focused on it. My focus will be elsewhere, on something I actually find interesting and I’m probably just doing enough to satisfy the basic requirements.
When I’m focused on something, anything to facilitate the amount of time I can spend on that focus ecomes a ‘sub-focus’. While I have to work, for example, my hours are based on how long it’ll take me to finish a set of daily tasks and anything else the management need me to do. Therefore, it’s taking up writing time. So I focus intently on the tasks and work my way through them as quickly as possible. Except, because I’m so focused on them I can’t allow myself shortcuts to get finished more quickly. That just stores up extra work for another day. So I bring my intensity to the job, get the work done thoroughly, and usually get home in less than five hours.
Annoys the hell out of other people though; limited computer access in the department means that if I get into something, like updating a spreadsheet so it’s complete rather than just entering my data, I can take up a computer for an hour rather than ten minutes. An hour when other people want the computer because it has a decent chair.
I’ve been accused of selective deafness as well, or conversely, earwigging. I’m really not ignoring you, or listening in to your conversation. I’m busy getting on with my job, all my faculties are focused on the task in hand. A person who thinks I’m ignorant or listening in is assuming I’d be able to separate a part of my faculties to concentrate elsewhere. I can’t. I have a focus, anything not concerned with that doesn’t make it into my conciousness. Try explaining that to people without them deciding that you’re just being stuck up, or lying.
People also assume that if I’m getting the jobs done quickly I can’t be doing them properly. Err, you mean you couldn’t get the same work done with the same thoroughness in the same amount of time. I think that’s because you don’t focus and spend half the time chatting to all and sundry. I’d rather just get on with it, so I can go home and avoid small talk. In addition, I’m busy, and if you interrupt me when I’m working I get really unsettled. Unsettled Rosie is not a happy bunny. I snarl and growl. It’s not pretty and adds to the impression that I’m mardy and snobbish.
My tendency towards intense focus has one advantage. When I’m concentrating on a project, creative, personal or work related, I will get it done, very thoroughly. I’m so distracted by what I’m doing there isn’t room for anything else to prevent me from finishing.
In addition, my curiosity, which usually is the driver for anything I focus on, has enabled me to gather up a random collection of information. I don’t do small talk but start a conversation and I usually have something to add.
The challenge of being introverted for me at least, is to balance the intense focus, the need to follow the trail, to finish what I start, the curiosity that drives that focus, that satisfies the intellect and insulates me from the overwhelming stimuli around me, with the cultural expectation of small talk and chattyness, of ‘normal’ human interaction. I should according to ‘normal’ people be interested in the emptyness of pop culture. I’m not, unless it’s an aspect of something that I’m focused on. For instance, I have no interest in watching talent shows. I like music, but I can’t stand manufactured pop. Other than as a cultural phenomenon, what interest has ‘X Factor’ or ‘Britain’s got talent’ for me? I can’t join discussions about the current or past contestants but if you’re willing to get into a deeper conversation about celebrity culture and the desire to be ‘famous’ as a part of current cultural phenomena, or music’s place in society, I can join in. At some point I’ve probably got obsessed by something vaguely related and followed the links. Obsessed is the wrong word though, it’s more a focused search for information.
How can intense focus driven by passion and curiosity be differentiated from obsession? For myself I find the difference is most obvious in my depression.
Losing my focus, my drive and curiosity was one of the worst symptoms of depression. It was a part of the blank feeling I struggle with. There was nothing there inside, just an emptying vessel. Making myself write has helped bring back my curiosity, and with it my ability to focus.
Obsession has, in the past, filled the void where curiosity and focus used to be. It was unhealthy, emotionally, physically and financially. Before the current depression (23 month and counting, 14 months in recovery), in my previous depressive episode (2010) I actually got some counseling. I identified my obsessive behaviour for what it is and this time round I’m channeling the energy into reigniting my creativity instead of buying magazines or investing energy in a destructive attitude to food.
It has worked; my focus has returned, I’m writing as much as ever, building for a future that I want.
So to summarise, for me ‘focus’ is one of the advantages of the introvert. It, driven by curiosity and creativity, enables me to search for information and knowledge, work quickly and thoroughly, and also helps me stand back from the world to observe and process, as well as helping in the treatment of my mental health issues. These advantages outweigh the disadvantage of other people’s assumptions and there actions based on those assumptions.
This week’s prompt is:
“Focusing on things that are normally taken for granted is a powerful source of creativity.” — Edward de Bono
How Does It Work?
The rules are on the IBQ page, but they are simple: blog about what the prompt means to you and then come back here and leave a link. There is no word limit. Each week I will have a specific word or expression to get the creative juices flowing. Think about them in terms of the relevance to your life. Then sit down and write a blog. You get extra credit if you include a photo or graphic. Tag it with IBQ. After you’ve posted, come back here to that week’s specific prompt page and add a link to your blog in my comment box. Then check out what other introverts are saying. Remember to “Follow” my blog to get…
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