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Mary: December Thoughts

I should be writing Christmas cards, but frankly I’d much rather be here in my darkened study, whiling away the time spinning words around. It was a long, sort of difficult day, with my six-year-old boy having a bad cough, and so not being able to romp around in the snow outside.

It kept us quite house-bound. We did a lot of playing, some arguing, some movie-watching, some running around like crazy people, and generally climbed the walls until bedtime.

Now I relax here in this comfortable seat and relish the silence. Funny how such life, such energy and immersion can be so stimulating and exhausting at once. I love these small people so dearly, and yet breathe a small sigh of relief once the house is quiet for the evening, and I can once again write in peace, with no interruptions, with no noise, no questions or incessant tappings on the shoulder.

I think about the new year coming, and hope that I can get some good work done – that this new year brings a snap of newly starched sheets to my rather burdensome creation, this book, this relentlessly unmade, rumpled bed of a project.

I know I speak harshly of it, for which I do apologize, book. I do love thee. But you are becoming heavy on my back — although I suppose that is my perception of you, and not at all a reflection of you personally. I think, actually, I’m putting all these feelings on myself.

For one thing, it is NOT good practice to give myself deadlines. It just makes me feel all the more despondent when I don’t meet them. For example, I was bragging talking to my friends and acquaintances about how I thought it would be completed by the end of this year. HA.

(Isn’t it funny how life always deals out a blow after one has been bragging? “Oh, yeah? Take that!” says Life, as it fills up your glass with a dose of humility, plopping in a tablet of irony, for good measure. And you are sorely humbled. And also sort of embarrassed. And wanting to just slink away home with a blanket over your head, for a nice cup of tea and some good old fashioned self-pity. What? You don’t do that? Ah. Well. ANYWAY).

In essence, I hope the new year brings all good things – a hope, I suppose, all people around the world have. But, what of this new year? What if it doesn’t deliver? What if I simply don’t have the time to finish? What if I am constantly bombarded with interruptions, with parenting, with the day-to-day happenings that constitute a bustling and living household?

If I am to make any headway on this project, I fear I must schedule — a thing I really hesitate doing, because it’s another sort of added pressure. But if I don’t, if I just let the whole thing go where it wants to, I’m afraid that I won’t get enough done. So, here is a tentative schedule, tied up with a nice red ribbon, just in time for Christmas:

Writing times:

6:30 a.m.: I can get in about a half an hour to 45 minutes, if I start this early. It might be worth it. If I could just get out of bed.

1:00 p.m.: When Liv naps, I write. ON THE BOOK. Write for one hour, or until she wakes up.

8:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m.: After everyone is in bed, write – blogs, book, whatever I am inspired to do.

Of course, there are always those days when I’ll have more time, and also some days less. But this might be a good, basic plan for those “regular” days, when we are all running on our daily rhythm, and buzzing about knowing where we are going, and when we are getting there.

It seems like it might work out. It’s worth a try.

D’ya hear that, book? I’m with you on this. I’m on your side. I want you to be whole, complete, happy, read, loved. I am your partner, your hand to hold, your wooer, your teammate — your mother, for God’s sake. Don’t abandon me, not yet. Stick with me through this frisky, wild-eyed new year.

Let’s make it a good one.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    great idea, scheduling. no, it may not always stick, but it does give you a pattern to follow, and like my sewing, there’s always room for creative spontaneity, ie mistakes, missteps.

    stroke that book gently, and it’s more likely to do what you want, like the kids and making their bed (or finding the floor in our case).

    December 23, 2008
  2. Mary, I know how frustrating it is to try and get a book finished. I started my book in November 2005, so it took 37 months to complete. An eternity.

    Deadlines didn’t work for me either. Just slow and steady progress, and a commitment to making time for writing.

    Good luck in the New Year! Hopefully it will be productive for all of us.

    December 23, 2008
  3. Ah….schedules….dreamy! (Seriously, time management books are to me what Hustler magazine is to your average Joe.) I think you’re totally on the right track here, Mary.

    1) Identify your creative opportunities (regular time blocks).
    2) Build those time blocks into your routine.
    3) Accept that you will not always be able to “show up” for each intended time block.
    4) Give yourself huge credit if you are able to make it happen even 50% of the time. Don’t give in to frustration.
    5) Ride the wave: when you’re working on your project regularly (daily or nearly daily) it percolates in the background while you’re doing other things. It isn’t as hard to jump in when the next time block arrives. Momentum develops.

    Thanks for the inspiration! I too will be formulating a new strategy this week.

    December 23, 2008
  4. Kristine #

    Good luck, Mary!

    I also have some big writing goals and plans for 2009. Every year I make the resolution to “finish my novel,” and then the end of the year comes and well, I’m still messing around with the first draft. So, like you, I am striving for steady progress, even if it’s slow progress.

    But if I do manage to finish the novel? A bonus!

    December 23, 2008
  5. I love the way you “talk” to you book here, Mary. 🙂

    Schedules….I don’t really care for them myself either, but I’m starting to realize that if I’m going to get done what I need (or want) to get done, I must start scheduling certain things! The best I do is keep a sticky note of my computer at work that says “Have a V-8” to remind to do just that. Though I’ve never been one for New Year’s resolutions, trying to schedule certain things will be a goal for the new year.

    Good luck with your plans Mary!

    December 24, 2008
  6. Cathy, you are so right. The book must be treated gently. I must not abuse, chide, scold, or taunt it. I must love it unconditionally. Like the child that it is. Like the mother that I am.

    December 30, 2008
  7. Thank you, Brittany. I will try to stop putting so much pressure on myself, and just go with it where it wants to go. I suppose deadlines are meant to help motivate, but even deadlines are meant to be broken. Just so long as the motivation stays intact! :0

    December 30, 2008
  8. Miranda, you are TOO funny! Maybe I should look into one or two of those time management books myself…? They sound steamy!

    Yes, scheduling is The Way, at this point. It’s sort of like having sex when one is married with children. You don’t WANT to have to schedule it in. But sometimes it’s just the only way to get the thing done. 😉

    December 30, 2008
  9. Kristine, thanks for the words of encouragement. Of course, if I could only get the first draft actually COMPLETED, I’d be swimming in a blissful bowl of jelly. Not to mention messing around with it.

    My time will come.

    December 30, 2008
  10. Kelly, I know, I know, I hate scheduling, too, actually. But I am finding that if I don’t schedule, I will have serious troubles.

    And my book will get seriously upset. It’s already glaring at me from my desk. And whenever I open it in Word, no matter how lovingly I soothe it, it pouts and turns its head away. (I think it’s having issues of self-doubt)! 😉

    December 30, 2008

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