From the Depths of the Sequential Vortex

Outdoor humorist, Patrick F. McManus, coined the phrase the sequential vortex—the great trap of one thing leading to another, slowing sucking away any chance of accomplishment. I continually am in danger of being pulled into the depths—it’s tugging at my ankles even now. No, wait, that’s our new puppy. Let me get back to the vortex. Here’s an example (raise your hand when you see yourself).

I get up determined to write. I will write today. But first I have to get groceries. I must do only this one thing, and I will be ready to write. So I grab my list and I’m off. No, wait. My hubby’s check just hit the account, and I need to do a little online banking. An hour later, I’m ready to go. Half an hour later (a downfall of living in the boonies), I’m at the store. While there, I realize not only do we need groceries but the little pop-up pool needs chlorine and a filter. I throw the supplies in the cart. I check my watch. I’m doing pretty well. Only two hours at the store. I pull into the driveway a half hour later and get ready to unload. But I realize that if I go straight to the house, I will need to let the puppy out of her crate and then all bets are off. So, it’s best to do the filter and chlorine while I’m out here. I get everything set up, but when I step into the shed to plug in said filter, I hear the chickens clucking and realize they need their afternoon feed. I’m off to the pole barn to get grain for both batches of chickens. While I’m at it, I’ll go ahead and scrub their watering cans and get them fresh water. As I’m delivering the water, I realize the horse is in need of a little extra TLC and I stop off to hang out for a minute. Good thing the cold groceries are in a cooler. I check the horse’s tank. Might as well scrub and refill that while I’m at it. But it’s okay, because I only have to put the groceries away and I can write…I think you know by now how this story ends—six hours later with very little writing.

To the jaded, this may look like procrastination. To the vortex purist, this may look like so much flotsam clouding the water. The true vortex they say revolves only around the accomplishment of one thing (i.e. a desire to paint the wall means new drywall and molding first). But it’s my vortex and I’ll swirl if I want to. Come on in, the water’s fine.

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12 thoughts on “From the Depths of the Sequential Vortex

  1. So THAT’s the name of what’s plaguing me! 🙂 I know what you mean…I, too, live in the boonies, miles away from the store/bank/park/civilization. I try to remember Barbara Kinsolver’s sage wisdom: “There is no right time to write. There is only right now.”

  2. I’m painfully, painfully familiar with the vortex. I should be writing right now, but I need sour cream in order to make supper tonight. I think we all know how this is going to end…

  3. Again, great blog appearance – like your query on multiple to do’s – I have to keep rehandling this – usually by setting fixed ‘to do’s’ with accountabilities that hold me to task.

  4. Hmmm, sounds like you need some helpers! Anyone you can delegate tasks to? I love the name sequential vortex. I think we all run the risk of falling into that deep black hole, but with so many animals counting on you for food and water, you’ve got a lot of responsibilities. It’s amazing you get any writing done at all! Congrats on your upcoming books.

  5. Oooh, I’m with you. I’m on the last day of a ten day vacation. I got a lot done but I bet I could only name a few. But, but, I had a list. . .
    The internet is my greatest vortex. Which is probably why I’m writing this instead of doing edits before hubby gets home and makes it impossible to concentrate (love you, honey!)
    Congrats on the website!

  6. Totally with you there. Always something else on the never-ending list. And why I’m still up now as opposed to getting some sleep. The house is quiet now that the kids have gone to bed, so I’m squeezing a little quiet editing time out while hubby snores in bed behind me. Finding my time where I can get it.

  7. Sounds like a day in my life (minus the animals and the pool). I’d been attributing it to some kind of middle-age ADD, but sequential vortex is a much better term to justify my task avoidance running around. So thanks for that. Still, I always ask myself, why am I doing everything but what I love to do (which is write)?

  8. Been there, done that! Although lately I tend to forget about the first task completely. What? Oh yes, I was going downstairs for Lysol to clean up the mess on the floor (kid, not puppy) and end up in the backyard, cleaning up after the dogs. Then come back upstairs two hours later to find the half cleaned puddle. oy.

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