I just can’t fathom how other people stick to any kind of routines: Going to the same job every day? A PTO meeting every month? The bookstore to buy a new calendar every year? It’s all a bit much for me.
Of course, I can be very disciplined when I absolutely have to. When my manuscript was due, I sat down to write by nine every morning and did not stop until late at night. It’s truly amazing what the fear of failure, financial ruin and shame can do for you. And now I do freelance proofreading (I am the grammarian about whom your mother warned you. And YES, I DO know if anal retentive has a hyphen!), and will easily be busy at work by 8 AM if I have a deadline. But on those in-between days, when there’s no freelance work and no looming book deadline, I am about as directed as a fart in a blizzard.
Let me give you a rundown of yesterday’s writing routine:
7:20 AM – Drag myself out of bed, even if it kills me.
7:25 AM – Drag myself out of bed, even if it kills me.
7:30 AM – No, really this time … drag myself out of bed, even if it kills me.
7:32 AM – Slump like a ragdoll against St. John who insists on cheerfully kissing and hugging me every morning and attempting to make me lift my arms to hug him back. Damn him and his sunny morning disposition! Lean against kitchen counter, try to look useful as everyone scurries around me trying to get to work/school on time.
8:00 AM – Alone at last, except of course for the dog, two cats and a very loud and rather bold family of mice that seem to have recently taken up residence in the kitchen. I am overcome by the urge to crawl back into bed for just one more hour, but am accosted by a full hamper at the top of the stairs and decide, instead, to throw in a load of laundry. Go back downstairs and make a cup of decaf tea (god only knows what the shock of caffeine would do to my system!), eat a semblance of breakfast, check emails, check the Debutante Ball website, read the newspaper, play on Facebook, generally dither.
9:00 AM – Think about writing. Open files and look at the proposal for book number two. Read what I wrote yesterday. Ha ha, I am so funny, I should write more about . . . hey wait a minute, is that a hair on my chin?
9:10 – 9:15 AM – Obsess about the hairs on my chin.
9:16 AM – Get up and pluck the damn things. Stare at myself in the mirror. Decide I hate my new haircut. Go through my daughter’s closet in search of funky hats. Try on all the hats. Decide I need a totally new look. Call hairdresser for an emergency hair appointment. Call chiropractor. Call the supermarket to order turkeys for Thanksgiving. Call sister-in-law to see who’s coming for Thanksgiving. Make a list of who’s coming and what they should bring. Think about what to cook. Poke through latest issue of Bon Appetit magazine for inspiration. Read article about an attorney who gave up her practice to open a chain of crab restaurants. Wonder if I should give up my practice to open a chain of crab restaurants.
10:00 AM – Sit back down at computer. Check emails. Check Deb site. Check Facebook. Check latest polls … oh, wait a minute . . . the election is over. Check on what President-elect Obama is doing today. See what Michelle is wearing. See how the progress is going on finding a school for the girls. See if there’s any news on the new dog. Gee, I wonder what the inside of the White House looks like. Thank goodness for the internet. You can find out anything on the internet.
10:30 AM – Go to emergency hair appointment and take a well-deserved break from all this hard work.
Noon – Looming hair crisis averted. I ought to go home and get to work, but first I walk around town and look for people I know since my hair looks so good and I’m not even wearing my baggy, flannel writing trousers!
12:30 PM – Stop into the local bookstore. Chat with the clerks and order a book. Stare at the front shelves with all the new releases, fantasize about how my book will look there. Stare at the shelf with the Bestsellers, fantasize about how my book will look there. Stare at the front window, fantasize about how the full-color, life-size poster of me with the words “New York Times #1 Bestseller” will look there.
1:00 PM – Go home and eat lunch while thinking about what I’ll write for tomorrow’s blog post. And read Eileen Cook’s book while I do that, because since she’s a Deb, it’s kinda like thinking about tomorrow’s blog post. Also read the newspaper and uh-oh find at LEAST two issues that are just crying out for a letter to the editor from me! A writer’s work is never done!
2:00 PM – Back to the rock pile. Check emails. Check Deb site. Oh look, my mom commented. I better comment on my mom’s comment. Is that a piece of kale stuck between my teeth?
2:15 PM – Floss teeth.
2:17 PM – Back at the computer. Shall I work on my proposal? My blog post? A new long-lead article idea I have? Oh, look there’s that poem I’ve been working on that I’m just sure I’m going to read at President Obama’s inauguration (well, maybe Oprah will read it and then we’ll sit together at the State Dinner, me and Oprah, and discuss how it’s the best poem she’s ever read and when can I be on her show to talk about my fabulous book?). Work on poem.
3:00 PM – Damn, it’s time to pick up the kids from school. No wonder I can never get anything done around here!
3:30 PM – Kids home and plugged into laptops/cellphones/televisions or whatever it is they actually do when they say they are doing “homework.” And I finally sit down and write. Tomorrow’s blog post, the Pulitzer Prize winning poem, the proposal. The creative muse is on fire now! Or is that the living room?
4:01 PM – Rush downstairs to make sure that 11-year-old son, who has recently started building the fire in our wood stove after school every day, hasn’t set the house on fire.
4:02 PM – No, it IS just the muse that’s on fire!
6:00 PM – The kids, the dog, the cats all start to make noise about being hungry (the family of mice have gotten eerily quiet). I drag myself downstairs to cook supper. And while I do that, I also wash the dishes, empty the dishwasher, and put this morning’s laundry in the dryer – none of which got done today because I was so busy writing!
7:30 PM – Supper done, kids handed off to St. John, me and the muse retire to the rock pile once again, where I will now type my fingers to the bone until bed time. Oh, no … I’ve got a hangnail . . .