Is it just me or does everyone experience the ugly little troll who hurls insults into your ears as you try to do something difficult?
I call my troll Shoulder Frank. He’s short and squatty with unkempt hair and green hands and feet. His teeth are red and misaligned. His eyes are too big for his face. And every time he comes he wears the same hideous black and red striped shirt. Oh, and he smells like sulphur, so there’s no mistaking the fact that he has arrived. He shows up while I’m writing without ever letting me know in advance that he’s coming. And then he plops down on my shoulder, kicks his little legs and bullies me.
Take yesterday, for instance. There I was at my computer, slogging away on my novel revisions, when Bam! Shoulder Frank appeared out of nowhere. The first thing he did was read the paragraph I had just written.
“This stinks!” Shoulder Frank said. I tried to ignore him and continue typing.
He leaned closer. “Are you kidding me? No one will ever want to read this.”
“Go away, Shoulder Frank,” I said. I tried to shrug him off, but he’s got a strong grip.
“Give it up! This is the most boring thing I’ve ever read!” he said. Evil laughter spewed from his gaping, odorous mouth.
I jumped up from my chair and stomped out of the room. There wasn’t enough space for both of us in my office. I paced the kitchen waiting for him to leave. I drank glass after glass of water, as if I could flood Shoulder Frank away.
Every time I peeked into my study to see if he’d gone, Shoulder Frank jumped up and down in front of my keyboard shouting, “Hahahahahahah!”
So I went on a walk. Then I did the laundry. Then I checked Facebook. Then I thought about making cookies. Then I decided not to make cookies because what I really wanted to do was write. Then I got mad. I was letting Shoulder Frank have all the power. Not only did he want me to stop writing, he wanted me to stuff my face with cookies when I had expressly set a goal to refrain from eating cookies this week. Shoulder Frank probably knew that. Because apparently Shoulder Frank has free access to my thoughts.
If there is anyone who does not deserve attention, it is Shoulder Frank.
There are only two places that would allow a vile creature like Shoulder Frank to exist: The twin cities of Fear and Self-Doubt. I don’t want to live in either of those places. I live in Dallas. I choose my visitors. Shoulder Frank is not invited.
Just so there’s never any confusion on his part, I made a sign and put it on the door to my office. If he ever tries to show up again – and he will because he’s more persistent than anyone I know – I am just going to point to the sign and say, “Rules are rules, Shoulder Frank. You’re not welcome here. Now go home and let me get back to work.”