Stroke of multi-tasking genius?

Or highway to distraction hell?

On a day when it’s all coming together the way every writer dreams it should, I log a lot of hours in front of the computer. That translates to a welter of words and a pile of pages, but it also adds up to a collection of kinks, aches, pains, and twinges that manifest when I finally peel myself out of the chair.Carolyn Rose

Recently, as I was trying to work out a Charley horse in my hamstring muscles by walking the living room/kitchen/dining room circuit leading with my heels and sipping at a shot glass of muscle-relaxing adult beverage, I made the vow to stretch more often. This would have two benefits: keeping my body in better shape and keeping my mind sharper.

But how to find time for that?

I pondered as I walked and stretched.

How could I loosen my muscles without losing momentum on my work in progress? How could I split my focus without putting too much slack on the line where I hook fresh ideas?

Charley horse gone, I returned to my chair and strafed the Internet.

Eureka. I found several lists of exercises I could do in my chair. I printed them out, and decided to begin my new routine immediately.

I started with an exercise for my neck, tilting my head slowly from side to side and then from front to back.

Bad move. From that angle I noticed the cobwebs festooned from the pine boards of the ceiling. Yes, festooned. This wasn’t the work of a single spider. There must have been a convention here since the last time I took a broom to the boards—a date lost in the mists of time.

Having spotted them, I could think of nothing else. With a sigh, I trudged to the kitchen in search of the broom. Twenty minutes later I found it in the garage, returned to my office, and attacked. “This is also exercise,” I told myself.

Half an hour later, in my chair once more, I tried arm and shoulder stretches, interlacing my fingers and stretching my arms out in front at shoulder level.

Through the lattice of my fingers, I spotted blops and smudges on my computer screen, crud in my keyboard, and dust on the desk.

I tried to ignore this, but soon found myself bound for the kitchen again. Digging into that scary cabinet beneath the sink—and making a note to organize it later—I found the special screen cleaner and banished the blotches. With a paintbrush, I cleaned the keyboard, then dusted the desk, organizing as I went and doing the bookcases for good measure.

After writing for half an hour, I attempted the full back release. I put my feet flat on the floor, let my arms hang loose, and slowly curled forward until—

Crap. Dust bunnies.

And not just one or two. The area beneath my desk was a dust bunny breeding ground, a regular warren for the little gray critters.

I dragged myself to the kitchen again and found the vacuum, but not the brush I needed. That surfaced in the guest room, but only after an exhaustive search. Once I got it in place, I did the entire floor and sucked the grit from the closet louvers.

Back in my chair, I attempted quadriceps contractions, extending my legs and tightening my thigh muscles for the count of ten. Around five, I noticed a definite wobble in my chair.

I rocked from side to side.

Dang it! Definitely a loose screw.

Stomping to the kitchen, I pawed through the junk drawer—making a mental note to straighten it out, maybe tomorrow—and excavated a screwdriver.

I returned to my office, tightened the offending screws, and tossed the exercise sheet into the overflowing recycling bin—after making yet another mental note to cart that outside and empty it.

And so, the sun set on my attempt at exercising at the keyboard.

From now on, I’ll give up on attempts to mix writing and fitness and focus on one or the other.

An Uncertain Refuge by Carolyn RoseAfter all, I have a lot of seat time in my future. Thanks for the urging of several readers who seem to know more than I do about my characters and where they might be headed, I’ve started plotting a sequel to An Uncertain Refuge, the suspense novel I released in May. It’s a tale of a child orphaned by violence, a woman sworn to protect and raise him, and the killer come to claim him. It takes place on the Oregon Coast and—such a deal—it’s just 99 cents on Kindle through Labor Day.

Carolyn J. Rose grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her hobbies are reading, gardening, and not cooking.