The list of tasks I've taken up 'instead of writing' includes alphabetizing every CD in the apartment; planting an herb garden in my kitchen, and a five hour quest for the perfect bath mat. Now however, I'm involved in the most detailed procrastination of all.
To understand the depth of this diversion, you have to know that I have loved only one other pursuit in life as much as mysteries: the theater.
As with any habit that reels you in when you’re innocent and unaware, one little production at age fifteen led to another led to a degree led to a job and soon I was a full blown theater junkie. As an adult, I've occasionally reconsider this love affair. I’ve tried to get out. Each time, like a disgraced 12-stepper, I’ve crawled back into rehearsal to spend sunny afternoons in dimly lit rooms while directors and designers argue over look and movement, and actors ask, “why aren’t I the lead?” Then, it came to me: if I wrote mysteries set in theaters, maybe I wouldn’t have to do theater. (Ok, so I'm slow at the figuring out thing.)
Enter Nicky D’Amico. For a few years it actually worked. I stopped doing theater the year before the publication of the first book. Then I kept busy writing the second. The Nicky D'Amico mysteries are the prefect theater substitute. In each book Nicky works on a new production. In A Habit For Death it's the failed musical comedy Convent of Fear. Ice In Veins (which comes out June 1) centers on a very problematic all-male production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Of course, Nicky, as the stage manager, is always at the center of the action. It was the perfect setup for me. Which is just another way of saying there was no way this was going to last.
Two weeks ago I was once again killing time instead of writing Nicky #3. (Are you seeing a pattern here?) I started cruising Craig’s List, looking for funny ads. There, snuggled alongside such gems as “Will Sell My Boyfriend” and multiple rants against airlines, was a single word: “Macbeth.” Without even realizing what I was doing, I’d opened the link and – boom – I am now just a few weeks from the start of rehearsal for a one act I haven’t even finished writing.
The project is The Kings and Their Dead for the Are The Fish Happy? Theater. It's a three-act evening of Shakespearean kings and their victims. I'm doing the Macbeth/Banquo segment. I get to riff for 20 minutes using Shakespeare's dialogue and characters. Now I'm not complaining about the task itself. This play is part of a greater project called Peace on War of which I am very proud to be a part.
But here's the thing. In my effort to put off writing, I've taken on a one-act. What if my procrastination is progressive? Where is this going to end? What do other people do 'instead of?'