Switching Gears

Outtakes 81

Switching Gears

By Cait Collins


Late December through early June is tax season in my business.  As soon as the holidays wind down, thoughts turn to April 15 when all workers must face the IRS and pay our income taxes. Like it or not, tax day is a fact of life. Some folks decide to get a jump on filing day and begin requesting forms on January 2 and my department is flooded with work. This means eight to ten hours a day Monday through Friday as well as some Saturdays.

My job is to respond to clients in writing so that they have information to give to their accountants or tax preparers. My work is not creative. It’s factual and pretty cold. After nine or ten hours of straight forward facts and figures, I find I have problems shutting down the researcher/correspondent and awakening the novelist. I planned a chapter for a current work retelling that eventful day when Amarillo High burned. In my mind it was full of emotion. I typed it, printed the pages, read it to my critique group. My friends agreed the work had no emotion. When I reread it I realized it sound like my business correspondence or an impersonal news report.

I spoke with my sisters. They gave me new insight on the event. Sister number three even had a copy of the year book supplement that covered the day our school burned. Using that information and my revised notes, I tried to rewrite the story. Three paragraphs later, I knew I still sounded like a bored talking head. The story deserves more than that. I loved Amarillo High. I cried as treasures were carried from the smoking ruin. But I couldn’t bring the broken heart to paper.

So what is the solution? Am I doomed to being unproductive for the next few months? Absolutely not. I switched gears. Sister number one may hate me for a few days, but I did write the light-hearted beginning of geek vs beauty. She was the beauty and I was the geek. Like all creative works, it needs some polishing, but it got laughs. So instead of torturing myself with trying to pull emotions from painful incidents, I can write lighter pieces. Next on the agenda — my first date. As for April 15 and the IRS, well my taxes are prepared. I have to pay, so don’t expect the envelope to be postmarked before April 14.



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