Killer Year–The Class of 2007

I Have No Life
August 24, 2006, 6:00 am
Filed under: JT Ellison, Killer Year Founders

I have no life.

Seriously. I like to pretend I do, but in reality, I’m working a 24/7 job. I can’t turn my mind off.

Last night. Hubby came downstairs, laughing his head off. It was nearly midnight and I was bustling through a few last minute chores before I went to bed. I was thinking about the book, about the blogs I needed this week, about trying to get everything done before we go on vacation. I turned in five book reviews, made a couple of major strides on some marketing stuff, and I guess I was in a pretty happy little mood, because when Hubby stopped me, he noted I’d been whistling.

“Whistling what?” I asked. I do that, I wander around whistling and don’t realize it. I’ve been asked by people in line in the grocery store, “What’s that tune?”

And I’m like, “No clue. Can you repeat it back to me?”

Usually in the store, I’m doing some version of Strangers in the Night.

But last night, industrious little thing that I am, I was whistling the tune to this cheery little song.


The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two, hurrah, hurrah
The ants go marching two by two,
The little one stops to tie his shoe
And they all go marching down to the ground
To get out of the rain, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!


I wouldn’t dare put all the lyrics here, but if this ear worm gets ya, here’s the link to the words.

Dear God, someone get me a shovel so I can smash the tune out of my head.

Ever since he brought my attention to it, I’ve been singing it. All the verses.

So, back to the 24/7 thing. I can’t seem to turn my mind off. There’s so much to do, so many things to write, deadlines to meet. When I’m sitting in the chair watching television, I’m really thinking about that greasy spot of egg left on the reporter’s lip at breakfast that morning. When I’m cleaning, or working out, I’m thinking about the ways I can kill different characters who need killing. It just never stops.

Now I’ve come up with the idea for book 3, so there’s a few extra brain cells devoted to that as well.

I wonder if I outlined, if this would be better? I tend to shy away from that, tend to “see” the scenes in my head, then sit down to write them. And I go pretty much in order, rather than writing scenes from the end at the beginning, and vice versa.

So tell me, how do you turn off the job?

JT Ellison


Mira, November 2007

PS. Clarity of Night is sponsoring a new short fiction contest. Stop by and meet their special guest, and enter your best 250 word or less short!


12 Comments so far
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If anyone ever figures out how to turn it off, short of being unconscious, I want to know.

Comment by Sandra Ruttan

SingRed Rubber Ball by The Cyrkle (also Simon and Garfunkle) instead. Here’s the midi, in case you need the music:

There now. Aren’t you glad I stopped by?


I should have known you’d bid me farewell
There’s a lesson to be learned from this and I learned it very well
Now, I know you’re not the only starfish in the sea
If I never hear your name again, it’s all the same to me

And I think it’s gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

You never care for secrets I confide
For you, I’m just an ornament, somethin’ for your pride
Always runnin’, never carin’, that’s the life you live
Stolen minutes of your time were all you had to give

And I think it’s gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

The story’s in the past with nothin’ to recall
I’ve got my life to live and I don’t need you at all
The roller-coaster ride we took is nearly at an end
I bought my ticket with my tears, that’s all I’m gonna spend

And I think it’s gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

Oh, I think it’s gonna be alright
Yeah, the worst is over now
The mornin’ sun is shinin’ like a red rubber ball

Comment by m.g. tarquini

Now I’m going to feel like a dolt because I can’t remember what author this was story’s about, but I heard about a story of a well-known author who was talking about this very subject. He told a story about how once he was a witness to a horrible car accident and he was running to the car trying to help people out of the car. It was bloody, gruesome and horrible and he admitted that he couldn’t stop thinking of how he’d write about it. Noticing what color the blood was and how it dripped down the boys arm. How the car was crumpled and the facial expressions of the mother. He said he felt horrible that he was thinking of writing in a time like that, but he literally couldn’t turn it off.

Now that’s an extreme case, but it’s an interesting phenomenom for writers… I’m not sure there’s a solution. Obviously this particular writer wishes to some extent he could… but also, I have a feeling it makes us better writers to have it constantly on since it is life that we write about and being aware of our surroundings in a writing capacity and thinking about it all the time betters our work.

Do you notice how as a writer (especially, for me, since I’ve started taking writing workshops and focusing more seriously on writing in college) you read differently? It’s harder for me to just dive into books and forget myself because I keep noticing the writing, making mental notes on the style, on how the author handled a difficult scene, etc.

Comment by mai wen

Mai, that’s so true. I read very differntly now, and am always thrilled when I turn several pages and forget that I’m reading. It takes a special writer to draw me in these days.
And the story — well, last night, a freind was recounting a terrible experience her daughter had, being mugged at gunpoint. IT was yterrifying and I aksed if I could use it. Of course, she’s a writer, so she totally understood. The average duck would think we’re all sickos.
Mindyyyyyyy…….. earm worms are dangerous creatures. Be careful with them.
Sandra, you’ve given me an idea. We could develop it and patent it, and never want for money again.

Comment by JT Ellison

I struggle with it everytime we have the news on TV — something happens to these ordinary people whose lives have been turned upside down, and the little wheel in the back of my head starts turning. I can stop it, but only with conscious effort.

Once on a message board, a woman was sharing some horrible life experience and I replied, “Please tell me your’re going to use that for a story!” And, after I clicked send, was mortified to remember that this was a person’s life they were sharing. (Fortunately, she didn’t seem offended. She did, however, comment that it had not occurred to her that it would make an interesting story.)

Comment by Chris Well

I have one word for you:


Comment by Rob Gregory Browne

You know, Rob, logic like that just can’t be faulted.

Comment by JT Ellison

The job is the life. Turn it off and you’re dead.

Be careful now, you hear? 🙂

Comment by Daniel Hatadi

Rob, you are a smart, smart man.

Comment by Tasha Alexander

I always thought that song was “When Johnny comes marching home again, hurrah hurrah.”

Comment by Dave White

JT, you can’t turn it off. And I’d be scared if I wished for it because what if it happened and it couldn’t be turned back on? Scary stuff!

It’s not easy, you just have to muddle through and do your best.

And outlining doesn’t help. Don’t let all those evil plotters tell you otherwise.

Comment by Allison Brennan

Turn it off? i love the part about walking around life with all these people in my head. People I seem to know better than myself. Kinda like having lots of friends…except some of them are really weird. Then again, so are some of my friends!

Happy writing, JT!

Comment by Elizabeth

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