Phone Grump

Whether or not I’m actually putting words on the page, when I’m in “writer-mode,” I’m writing—I’m conjuring, scheming, plotting, planning, brainstorming, dialoguing in the fertile world of my creative imagination. Whether or not my fingers hit the keyboard, I’m in another world.

Until the phone rings.

Surely I’m not the only author who hates hearing it, the interruption delivered by whatever ringtone that delays the poignant first kiss or the delivery of the fatal blow. You can’t blame the caller for butting in just as you were finally grasping the illusive handle on how to write that difficult passage, but you want to. I do, anyway, and I always have to fight it and remind myself that I love the person on the other end of the line and it’s only fair to give them my undivided attention.

Really. How awful is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing from family and friends, particularly outside my expressed work hours of 2-5 pm. Well, actually, when I’m healthy, my work hours are from when I get up and have had my first cup of coffee with the Lord, until I get too tired to continue—roughly 5 am-7 pm with breaks for hubby, chores, and meals—but that doesn’t allow for any calls whatsoever. Not good for relationships.

But when the phone rings, I don’t know how to make the shift from the dramatic scene of having to put Bricker down to relieve his pain to hearing about Aunt Minnie’s pumpkin bread disaster. Once I do make the shift, I’m a happy camper, thoroughly enjoying the conversation and the voice of the dear one who took the time to call. I always get off the line refreshed and dosed with the undeniable feeling that someone out there loves me—someone not of my own creation.

So, all y’all who have my phone number here in Texas can call me whenever you want (except between 2 and 5 CST), I’d love to hear from you! Just be patient with me as I shift my mental gears.

However, this invitation is not extended to political calls (I already know who I’m voting for and why), even-you-can-get-out-of-debt! calls (we’re totally out of debt and have been for years, TYVM), and please-support-this-vital-cause! calls (we have already chosen the charitable recipients for the little discretionary income we have and can’t afford to take on new causes).

The fact that I’ve been getting so many of these and similar calls this year has annoyed me no end. Each time, I read the caller ID and it’s some toll-free or “unknown” number, I growl. I don’t bother answering because it’s usually some auto-caller or recording, and there isn’t really anyone there to ask to please, stop calling me! Many of the calls are from the same number, and I never answer, but still they keep calling and I keep not answering and on and on it goes. Why don’t they just give up? I ain’t gonna talk to ya, sugah, just quit tryin’!

Last week, I was getting calls I had to answer–they were from our insurance agency. At least that’s what I thought. I answered the phone and got a recording. I was in the dead middle of a scene and hung up. The call dragged my thoughts away from what I was doing and ruined my train of thought and made me grumpy for a good fifteen minutes until I could recapture the magic of being “in the zone.” But the next time they called, I listened to the pitch about some new service they had to offer those of us with chronic conditions. I poked the button, as requested, to speak to whomever. Then dropped my jaw when the person asked how she could help me.

“Huh? I don’t know. You called me.”

“Oh, okay. Well, what’s your ID number?”


I crawfished out of that call. If they didn’t know what they wanted to talk to me about, I certainly didn’t know and wasn’t going to waste my time finding out. As long as they were paying my med bills, as we’re paying them to do, I didn’t need to talk to ’em.

So, back to my original point: I hate hearing the phone ring when I’m in writer mode. I wonder if there’s a way to split my brain so one side would telepathically know whether the call is worthy of attention while not interfering with the other side that is deep into creative endeavors. I wonder if there’s a way to freeze the creative side as-is until I can return from a worthy call and pick up where I left off. I wonder if there’s a way to shift gears more quickly.

Probably not. I guess I’m just going to have to continue being a phone grump.


About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Personal, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Phone Grump

  1. Lynn Donovan says:

    Thank you for your candid post! I would add to this, Texts from my daughters, whom I love dearly. LOL I can multi-task like crazy but constantly getting text messages splits my thoughts and affects my writing. Alone time is a precious and illusive thing for me as well.


  2. lynnmosher says:

    Oh, I hate the sound of the phone ringing! I growl, mainly because it’s almost always one of those dumb calls you mentioned. And it’s usually one of those about “our” credit card, which we don’t have. They’re the ones that, in spite of the fact that we’re on the no-call list, keep calling. So, we started using a screeching alarm now when they call. Tried it once. He hung up! Since fibro so easily sucks out my memory, I hate interruptions!


  3. Lynne says:

    Well saiid, Linda. Like you, I love getting calls from family and friends. Of course they have no way of knowing what havoc they’re dealing my thought processes. I try to not complain,because heaven forbid they should decide to stop calling me.

    So, I force myself to relax and enjoy the exdhange. The ones that make steam come out of my ears are the ones that (when you answer) you get a recording that says “All of our agents are busy right now. Please hold for the next available agent.” Hello? If you’re so cotton-pickin’ busy, why did you call me in the first place?

    There should be a law. (Except we don’t need any more laws) Well, there should be some way to give them a taste of their own medicine. But I don’t have the time nor the incentive to spend my time trying to think of a way. I have writing to do.

    I read somewhere when a writer’s train of thought is interrupted, it takes a full thirty-five minutes to recover the mood, and the particular thought may never come back. Eegad! If that’s the case, Between phone calls, dog requests to get out, and knocks on the door, I’m only getting about three creative minutes a day. 😦

    Glad you’re feeling better. Keep it up!


  4. I’m always a phone grump. I *hate* talking on the phone. All that unnecessary chit-chat and warm-up conversation. Argh. Just send me an email, so I can reply when it’s convenient.


  5. joannesher says:

    Linda – if you press “#” seven times on a robocall, it does something to the program they’re using that tells it that your number is not valid (according to my techie hubby). Or something like that. Apparently, they won’t call again. Just FYI.

    NOT that it helps your zone thing. And I can definitely relate!!!


  6. I am fortunate, I get very few calls. I am also unfortunate, I get very few calls. Oh well, the few calls I get, or return, are only from friends and family, or the few professionals I am in contact with. We use only our cell phones, and that ended all unsolicited calls. No telemarketers at all. I even have a beautiful ringtone which I doesn’t startle me when I am sleeping or writing, or any other creative activity. It is just enough to register I have a call, and I can answer or not. My phone plays Theme From a Summer Place. Solved a lot of my problems. With both caller ID and voice mail, I have regained my privacy. Good luck to you with yours. Hope you are feeling better!


    • Lynne says:

      Hi Celilia. I don’t know how long you’ve had your cell phone . . . that’s all we have, too. And at first it relieved all telemarketing. Not any more. Seven years down the road, I get them constantly. But I’ve gotten urgent calls from family from numbers other than their own, and I’m the queen of worry warts, so I can’t even ignore an unrecognized number. Keeps me busy! 🙂


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