“Merciful heavens!” exclaims Lady B. “Is that a door I see before me?”
Lady B went to the theatre last night, escorted by Lord B, and I’ve notice that it always seems to affect her speech patterns. Don’t even ask about what she’s like the morning after one of their operatic evenings.
“Four of them?” I offer.
I don’t know why I make it a question. There are unquestionably four portals plonked right in the center of Lady B’s otherwise pristine ballroom. Each is shaped differently: one is very art deco, another is the sort you might find on a Bath townhouse, one is Victorian faux gothic, and the final door is decidedly dark and creepy.
“I can see that,” says Lady B dryly. She has to raise her voice to be heard over the cacophony coming through the various doors. “But what are they doing in MY BALLROOM?”
Somewhat breathlessly, I manage, “It’s a vortex.”
Lady B turns sharply, peering behind the potted orange trees. “It’s that physician fellow, isn’t it?” she demands triumphantly. “The one with the sorcerer’s wand!”
“Er, no.” Ever since Dr. Who landed in the Ballroom by accident, Lady B has been keeping a weather eye out for him. She was just a little too intrigued by his sonic screwdriver—even if she does persist in referring to it as his wand.
Can you imagine Lady B in space?
I try to explain. “It’s not that kind of vortex. It’s a book vortex.” I gesture helplessly at the four doors. “Each of these is a book in a different stage of production—that I’m meant to be working on right now.”
From the art deco door comes the low whir of an early airplane propeller, a burst of jazz music, and the trumpeting of an elephant. “That’s blog posts about The Ashford Affair that I’m meant to be writing over there—and the one next to it are proofs for The Passion of the Purple Plumeria that I’m meant to be going through.”
That’s the Bath townhouse door, where the sounds of a furious swordfight can be heard. In fact, it’s so loud that it nearly drowns out the faint murmurs of genteel conversation from the faux gothic entry and the Bach toccata from the dark doorway.
“And the last two?” Lady B asks sternly.
“Revisions for my Victorian-set novel”—I gesture to door #3—“and, finally,”—door #4—“another Pink Carnation book, set in London in 1806. The hero is rumored to be a vampire,” I add, in the hopes of diverting Lady B’s attention. (I’ve seen the copy of Byron’s Giaour she keeps under her bed.)
It doesn’t work.
Lady B pulls herself up. “Bad enough that Miss Darby was dropping manuscripts all over the floor last week! Do you mean to tell me, Miss Willig, that you have invited the characters of not one, not two, not three, but FOUR books to the Ballroom all at once?”
I’m too tired to argue with her. “I didn’t invite them,” I say in despair. “And I can’t make them leave! They all say they won’t go until I’m done with them. But I can’t work on all four at once.”
“Then,” said Lady B imperiously, “you must work on one at a time.” She makes a little shooing motion. “Go on now. Get started.”
“Where?” I demand. The characters from all four doors are waving frantically, all trying to catch our attention, trumpeting out their various claims.
Oh, dear. In fact, they appear to have begun arguing amongst themselves, doorway to doorway. Is there going to be inter-book litigation? It’s like something out of a Jasper Fforde novel, only with no Thursday Next and the Book Police to sort it all out.
“Start at the beginning, of course,” says Lady B impatiently, like a souped up version of Maria von Trapp. “Which novel will be published first?”
“The Ashford Affair,” I say meekly. “It comes out in just two weeks, on April 9th.”
Lady B wafts me in the direction of the Ashford Affair door. “Go do your duty by those characters while I have a nice visit with that interesting Miss Gwen in Purple Plumeria. And Miss Willig?” She turns on one satin-shod heel. “By the time I get back, I expect ALL THESE DOORS TO BE CLOSED.”
I nod obediently. There’s no way I’m going to be done with “Ashford” promo, “Plumeria” proofs, Victorian Book revisions and writing a whole new Pink book by Thursday’s ball, but one doesn’t deny Lady B when she speaks in capital letters.
And she may have a point about that “start at the beginning” thing…. Even if only two of those doors are closed by Thursday, it’s still better than dealing with four.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m overwhelmed with too many things at once, my inclination is always to bury my head under the covers and try to hide from all of them.
How do you tackle multiple tasks?
Also, if Lady B were to have the chance to travel with Dr. Who, where do you think she would go?