Hey, Look–Squirrel!

While flipping through my high school yearbook recently in an odd fit of nostalgia, I reread the caption under my senior picture. Somehow, I’d forgotten I had a sort-of nickname: Squirrel. But there it was, listed first thing.

At the time, I had no idea why anyone called me that. Really. I do remember asking a friend about it. She shrugged and said, “I dunno. You’re just a squirrel.” (Note: This photo may be a chipmunk. I’m not sure, but you get the idea.)

Photo by Skyler Ewing on Pexels.com

Did I have fat cheeks, or tons of energy? Not really. Was I adorably furry? NO. Did I hoard things? No, that started later in life. Was I always stuffing my face? Possibly, but not with acorns. Did I chatter? Maybe. Did I scurry through the halls, late for wherever I was supposed to be (even lunch)? Yeah, you got me. But there was always so much to DO, so many people to talk to…(see chatter, above).

It was a bummer when the guy I had a huge crush on in Algebra 2 started calling me Squirrel, too. “Pet”—even a hopefully-cute one—was not exactly the relationship I’d hoped for. When yearbooks came out—two of my besties were co-editors-in-chief—I was horrified. No way was I sending that photo for the freshman look-book next fall. Nosireebob, I would NOT start my college career as a squirrel. I ran to one of those passport photo places and took a cheap black-and-white.

Photo by Maddie Franz on Pexels.com

I didn’t think much about squirrels after that for a very long time. One of my favorite movies is Christmas Vacation, and I laughed my face off every year at the scene where Aunt Bethany hears a funny, squeaking sound and a squirrel jumps out of the living room Christmas tree to terrorize the entire extended family and cause mass destruction through the house.

It wasn’t until I saw that old yearbook photo again that I thought of one more squirrel-esque trait that miiiiiight apply to me. You know those cartoon dogs whose attention is always caught by something else, which completely distracts them from whatever they’re supposed to be doing? (Hey, look! Squirrel!) The dog becomes, well…dogged…in pursuit of his new goal. The squirrels? Not so much.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been working on a new cozy series for what feels like forever (it actually may be—and yes, I am a pantser, why do you ask?). I was perfectly fine until somewhere just past the soggy middle, when I suddenly started getting distracted by shiny new ideas—other series, short stories, you name it. Here, there, everywhere: tempting plots, premises and characters. My to-be-read pile on my nightstand soon reflected the same: thrillers, cozies, PIs, suspense, history, romance, women’s fic (and one Beach Boys memoir that was a gift and raises my lamp to a better height very nicely). I feel like that illustration in Alice in Wonderland where Alice gets the whole pack of cards thrown at her.

The good news is, I have settled on just one manuscript again. It’s not the cozy, which I know I will return to, but a…well, I’m not sure yet. I’m writing it scene by crazy scene, and we’ll just have to see. It could be a disaster. But I took it as a good sign the other day in the Market Basket parking lot when I pulled in next to a car with the license plate: LKSQRL.

Photo by Brett Jordan on Pexels.com

Wish me luck!!

Readers and writers, has anyone else felt a little squirrely lately in their literary pursuits? Let us Chicks know in the comments!

28 thoughts on “Hey, Look–Squirrel!

  1. I can definitely relate to this, Lisa! Not the Squirrel nickname, but being unable to settle on one project. I’ve started on three different books during these past few months. None will stick. Now I’m attempting a short story, one I have to finish by this fall. I’m hoping I can actually see this project to the finish line. Wishing us both lots of luck!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, I am very squirrel like when it comes to housework or any fun project except reading and knitting. I have to finish one book before I start another, and the same with a knitting project. But I have a LOT of interests and will start one and then think of something else I should be doing. The result is half of my photographs have been digitized and there is genealogy stuff very much NOT organized, and music all over my piano.
    My nickname in school and at my first long term job was not squirrel, though, it was MOUSE. That came about because of my LOVE of cheese, and because I can wiggle my nose like bunnies and mice.
    Today I am going to do my housework……….OH! There is a bear in the yard! Where’s my camera?!
    Carol

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes Lisa, I can! But my twitch is up and down, her’s was side to side. My Dad taught me to do that when I was little, even before “Samantha” I did it once to a friends pet bunny and it stopped his twitching and just looked at me. LOL!
        Carol

        Liked by 2 people

  3. That is too funny, Lisa. But I know many people like this (not just writers).

    I’m not very squirrel-like. Never have been. Once I sit down to do something, I can work it for hours.

    Except vacuuming or dusting. Anything can distract me from those!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. You’re so lucky, Liz! Though if I am truly, finally focused on something, I am a bit more like you. My husband has literally clanged pan lids together to jolt me from the Zone.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. We have a running battle with the squirrels in our back yard, who insist on using a pair of caribou antlers we brought back from Alaska as their teething ring. (One half of the right antler finally was felled by the critters, alas.) But Ziggy does her part by coming running in a mad dash to chase them off whenever I say the magic word, “Squirrel!”

    As for me, I’m more a moose than a squirrel: taking a long time to decide to do something, but then pretty good about the follow-through once I’ve made up my mind.

    And by the way, have you ever thought about what a WEIRD word that is–squirrel?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is a weird word, Leslie–though something about the sound of it does feel…squirrel-like? You can almost feel the frenzied foraging and urgency.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to be more of a squirrel, in my twenties, when I was kicking off my career. Oh, to have some of those ideas I “squirreled” away. But once my career did kick off and was based on deadlines, I became – what’s an animal that doesn’t start a new task until they’ve completed a different one? Hmm… BTW, where’s that yearbook pic, Lisa? Inquiring minds want to know! And what’s a freshman look book????

    Liked by 4 people

    1. A Look Book is basically a freshman pre-yearbook–they give it to all the students in August so they will know who’s in the freshman class and what their names are. (I went to a small college.) As you might imagine, it also functions as something of a Date-Prospect Book. (Hey, I saw you’re from Illinois. That’s so cool. Get this, I’m from Alaska. What a coincidence!)

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wishing you the best, Lisa! I’m a bit squirrely myself–it tends to happen right in the soggy middle of a manuscript. I still manage to work through it, but I end of having a huge case of imposter syndrome. (Also, I love writing short stories when I get squirrely, so as least I can have quick distractions.)

    On the note of distractions, have you seen this Squirrel Ninja Warrior Obstacle Course? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFZFjoX2cGg

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I definitely have to fight to stay focused on my current project. I have a story due to one editor and a proposal due to another on June 30. I’ve finished the first draft of the sixth novel in the Natalie McMasters Mysteries, Killers!, and the reports from my betas are in, so I’m hot to start on the second draft, but I can’t do that until I’ve met my deadlines. I’ve got another Lovecraftian novel and a paranormal police procedural that I’m dying to write, but those have to wait until Killers! is launched. Doubtless, a few more squirrels will come running by soon…

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m like Liz, pretty focused, doing what I need to do most days. But lately, I feel much more sloth-like. I have a lovely patio and the weather has been perfect here so all I want to do is sit out back with a book and a libation. Sigh.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Lisa, I can be squirrelly, too ( which I doubt is news to any of the Chicks)! But my husband could relate to having to resort to something like clanging pot lids together to snap me out of the (Twilight) Zone, lol!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Ha! I love this, Lisa!!

    I’m dogged in almost every pursuit *other* than writing. I, too, find myself constantly shifting my focus when something shiny presents itself. (Maybe I’m a magpie?) Upon reading an early draft, I remember a beta reader saying, “This feels like two books. Or maybe three.” Yep. She was right. And out came the (digital) red pen.

    Thanks for this great story, Lisa! And I can’t WAIT when the WIP makes its debut.

    Liked by 2 people

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