By Toni McGee Causey


This past week, I finished proofreading book 3, WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON, and sent it off next day to the publisher, and then I promptly died.

Okay, not entirely dead. Just mostly dead. Apparently, not hanging onto details real well, either, since I absolutely thought I had to be somewhere at noon today (as I write this, Saturday), and it turns out that it’s next Saturday at noon. Good thing it wasn’t last Saturday, huh? My mom said, “But I sent you an email with the date, and you responded.” I probably did. When I’m on deadline, I’ll agree to just about anything that will make the noise of whoever is talking to me go away so I can finish the sentence (or rend my hair). She could’ve written, “By the way, I’ve decided to store a thermo-nuclear weapon in your office, do you mind?” and I would’ve said, “Sure! Over there! Corner! Bye!”

My kids got away with murder when I was like this. (And sometimes, still do.) I have been known to forget major events, family. I am not even telling you how many times things caught fire in the kitchen. (Which was really embarrassing when the oven was just ten or so feet from my desk and I heard my oldest son shouting, “MOM!! MOM!!” and I looked up, saw him standing there, pointing to the oven… which was billowing black smoke while the fire alarm blared. Um. Yeah. This is why I do not cook.)

Über focus. Tunnel vision. Going with the flow. Or, as I like to put it, mad freaking panic. Steep incline, wet roads, no brakes. Get ‘er done.

It is really amazing how creative you can be when you have to be.

Now. That said, I am totally brain dead. [Brain dead enough to not realize that I agreed to PAINT THE SPARE BEDROOM. I would not be the least bit surprised to find out I agreed to purchase some sort of new fangled gadget that would assure me world domination or thinner thighs. (Wow. Wouldn’t that combo be great?)]


As you can see, I’m a goner. I think the only thing I’ve managed to do since then is Twitter (I can sort of manage 140 characters). (sort of) (barely)

So tell me, because I know I cannot be the only one, what have you forgotten to do… or gotten yourself committed to doing… while you were super focused? Bonus points for the craziest. 


10 thoughts on “focus

  1. Allison Brennan

    For me it’s getting lost in thought when I’m NOT writing and want to be (or need to be.) Oh, beware of me behind a wheel. I drive on autopilot. I make the trip to the kids school about 321 times a day and thus when I start in that direction, regardless of where I INTEND to go, I end up at the school. On Thursday, we were going to a restaurant near my mom’s house. I know how to get to my mom’s house. But instead of turning right on Grantline, I went straight on Sunrise, and it wasn’t until I was ALMOST to the point of no return when my oldest daughter said, "Are you going the right way?"

    Whoops, sorry, mentally debating whether my villain is going to stab my heroine or poison her . . . (turns out, neither! Something else came up when she went to the grocery store . . . )

    Last week I dropped the kids off school and went to Starbucks . . . but I’d been there ten minutes before because my daughter had a free first period and I took her to Starbucks. Next day, I had to go to the grocery store to pick up snacks for a school party for the same daughter, and I dropped her off, went to Starbucks, got coffee, then I was passing the school and remembered, Shit! I had to go to the store. U-turn . . .

    I’ve missed freeway exits more times than I can count. . . .

  2. Louise Ure

    WHEN A MAN LOVES A WEAPON. Best … title … ever.

    I never overpromise when I’m focused, because I never hear the requests and therefore never reply to them. Easy solution, Toni. Try cotton balls or those little ear plugs the pit crews get at the race track.

  3. Gayle Carline

    Unfortunately, I don’t ‘lose myself’ in my writing, so when interruptions come, I don’t ignore them, I get cranky and want to kill them. But I did get too focused on an event once.

    It was the middle of May, 1994, and we had finally bought a house. My condo was on the market for over a year, and I was equally tired of realtors and the stress of trying to keep our toddler from wandering into one of the manmade streams that wound through the development. After a lot of brouhaha, including the drama on moving day, when the previous owner’s soon-to-be-ex-wife showed up and told us we couldn’t move in because SHE hadn’t signed the paperwork, I was finally in our house and starting on the address changes, unpacking, etc.

    As hubby and I drove to work together that Friday, he handed me something. A card. An anniversary card. I had nothing for him in return. It’s not that I forgot my anniversary date – I knew it was May 16th. I just thought it was the May that comes AFTER June. I know – it doesn’t make sense to me now, either.

    I fessed up – what else could I do? We arranged to take the day off and went to Disneyland for an impromptu celebration. From that year on, we’ve celebrated by going away for the weekend. Usually to Carmel, but one year we went to Europe. I figure, if I plan a trip, there’s no way I’ll forget the date!


  4. toni mcgee causey

    Allison, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one. I have taken tons of wrong exits while I was busy thinking of the story idea.

    Louise, thank you! I really like that title, too. I wish I could claim credit for coming up with it, but it was brainstormed by my editor. 😉 And I wish earplugs would work. I have really persistent family, who will stand there and tug at my elbow or send up flares or shove notes under my nose. [I figure I can take complete credit for their tenacity, though. One is a cop and one is about to be a fireman.]

    Gayle, oh, that OTHER May. I am so using that as an excuse from now on. (I really did think the other day that it was 2008. I had to look at my computer calendar to remind myself that nope, while I was busy editing, it really did turn into another year.)

    Cornelia, thank you! And very very sorry about that being how you got engaged. 😉 I think that’s how we ended up with a super-sized Ham radio set up (complete with two antennas) — I nodded a lot during act three.

  5. R.J. Mangahas

    I remember once I was typing a paper for a class while I was thinking of a short that I wanted to work on. The professor liked the story, but I still got a late grade on the real paper.

  6. Catherine Shipton

    Oh I ended up training my most tenacious teenage daughter( the one most like me) by going into auto hell no mode…if she approached me when I was focussed. This came about after I came out of an uber trance once, and she was still complaining that all I ever said was no (cue flashback to conversation with my Dad) so I explained to her that I felt whatever idea (wild crazy stunt) she had thought of deserved my fullest attention and respect…so if she ever wanted to hear yes from me she should take her cue from my hunched shoulders, manic far seeing stare, and hobo styled ensemble…and wait.

    This actually worked pretty well as she would used the extra time to construct really good arguments for why she should do something, and had to learn patience much earlier than I ever did, plus I managed not to promise ridiculous things unknowingly.

  7. Catherine Shipton

    The defining moment of the default hell no, was when she tried to slip in a request for her boyfriend to sleep over, after I’d said yes to him coming over for dinner. Long discussion ensued…and the new hell no policy came into being.

  8. Clea Simon

    Utterly unoriginal, but I’ve burned so many pots it’s embarrassing. I go to make dinner, then I have just one little thought that I need to get down…. next thing I know, the acrid smell of burning whatever is filling the air and my husband is running downt he hall to throw water in the mess. In fact, last night I steamed artichokes and we both remarked how much better they taste when they’re not "smoked."


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