Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Winter Writing Wonderland

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”

- Annie Dillard

It’s winter break! This means time to write ALL WEEK. Hooray!

Except Saturday because my in-laws and nephew are visiting.

No big deal. There’s always Sunday. Except they’re staying for part of the day and then my husband and I have some errands to run and we invited a friend over for dinner.

No matter because there’s Monday. My husband is off so I’m sure I can squeeze in some time except that two boys come over to hang out and one sleeps over and there’s laundry to do.

TODAY, Tuesday is THE DAY. My daughter is going to taekwondo camp from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm and then I’m going to drop off the boy who slept over and then I’m going home to write until noon when I have to take a shower and run errands. It’s gonna be GREAT!

Watch my schedule unfold:

7:57 am – I’m up. I don’t have to leave for 45 minutes. Excellent.

8:05 am – Wake up my daughter. She’s kind of snuggly, so maybe I’ll rest in her bed for a few minutes.

8:20 am – I badger the three children to choose a cereal and a fruit.

8:40 am – My daughter rushes to get ready. I decide to come back to get the boy who slept over instead of dragging him out now. Let them play a little longer.

9:15 am – I’ve dropped off my daughter, run to get $ to pay for the camp, returned to the Taekwondo place. It’s locked! I pound on the door. No answer. I pound on the window. The master opens the door. I pay and hurry home.

9:21 am – Sleepover boy hops in the car. I drive him home.

9:28 am – I pull in his driveway. His brother is running down his porch steps to go to a friend’s house. I drop sleepover boy off. Just before I exit the driveway, sleepover boy runs over to me.

“I’m locked out.”

Apparently his brother locked the door fifteen seconds before we reached him. And neither boy has the key. No matter – sister is upstairs.

“No, she isn’t,” brother tells me.

My head is spewing a steady stream of curses.

I pull out of the driveway so the minivan can pull out to take brother to his playdate. I call the mother who is at work. Yes, the sister is home. She’ll call the sister’s cell phone and try to wake her up. I sit in the car and call the house number.

9:40 am - I decide to walk over to the house and shout the girl’s name near her 2nd-floor window.

When I do she yells, “I’m here. I tried to find you but you weren’t in and I locked myself out.”

My head is again spewing a steady stream of curses.

“Why didn’t you just wait for us? Why didn’t you take a key?”

“I don’t have a key.”

She’s got a cell phone though and she’s on the phone with her dad. He tells her there’s a key outside! HOORAY! She thinks it’s the wooden cart, but it’s not. Turns out it’s hidden under another wooden piece which is ENCASED IN ICE. No metal tools available because they’re also in the house.

9:50 am – I call the mother. She gives me the address to her work.

I drive to the next town over to collect the key.

10:23 am - When I see both half-sister and sleepover boy open the door and enter the house, I leave.

10:27 am – I enter my home. I’m not in the mood to write.

10:28 am – I reheat my coffee.

10:30 am – I prepare a cover letter to send along with a manuscript.

11:06 am – I pay bills.

11:27 am – I check my e-mails. A friend of my husband’s sent me an introduction to critique. I critique it.

11:52 am – My husband calls. I complain about my lost writing time.

“Write now,” he offers.

“I’m not in the right frame of mind,” I explain. I’d planned to settle in by 9:30 am and write until noon, take a shower, and then run errands before picking up my daughter. “And I should write a blog post,” I add.

“Why don’t you write about what happened this morning?”

12:00 pm – Write post.

12:23 pm – Find a quote to match the post.

12:34 pm – Put up post.

12:35pm - Take a sorely needed shower.

There’s always this afternoon…

“Next week there can’t be any crisis. My schedule is already full.”

- Henry Kissinger

Writers, how do you stay on schedule?

Do you have a schedule?


  1. Sounds like you had a very exhausting morning! I think you need a nap.lol
    Smiles to you.

  2. LOL. Have you ever noticed how breaks and vacations seem to be more stressful than normal days?! :-)

  3. Yikes. Seems like that's always the way it goes for me too. We have to seize those precious moments and hold onto them with both hands!

  4. You poor thing!! I'm with Shannon, vacation and extra days always seem to creep up and allow less time to write than when you're incased in all the garbage.

    I'm so glad half-sister and sleepover boy were able to get inside their house, regardless of how long it took.

    PS I love the character names. It made me giggle.

    PSS I hate the feeling of the writing time being gone. It's the crappiest feeling in the world.

    That is all.

  5. I have to agree with Jen--losing writing time doesn't feel good at all! Sorry to hear about your day.

  6. Jeesh! You're going to need a vacation for the vacation.

  7. What a crazy morning, BUT what a great suggestion from your husband to blog about it!

  8. I have no schedule now that I have lost my Fridays. Don' know where to fit in the writing. I am sorry to say your day sounds like a page out the book of my life. I totally sympathize. Maybe Wednesday will be better. Fingers crossed for you.

  9. Hi Theresa .. gosh - how ghastly I'd be tearing my hair out!! Kids, parents - who'd have them??!!

    Cheers .. Hilary

    PS I hope the week progresses better .. much writing better ..

    Good suggestion by hubby & good post!!

  10. I don't have kids of my own, so sticking to my schedule isn't as big of an issue. I block out time each afternoon when I get home and barring a major headache, I'm able to write. :)

  11. @ Choices, I just returned a few minutes ago. Now I have to cook dinner and leave for the kids' Taekwondo at 5:10. No time for a nap!

    @ Shannon, it's so true! I tell myself to relax, but then I have so much I want to accomplish in those days + do stuff for and with the kids, it's NOT relaxing!

    @ Angie, you're right. I'm taking tomorrow for myself!

    @ Jen, thanks for the comment. When not using real names, I try to be creative. Sleepover Boy sounds better than My Son's Friend.

    I'm mourning my lost writing time, but hope to do better tomorrow.

    @ The Golden Eagle, thank you. There's always tomorrow. I hope.

    @ JEFritz, I think the only way I'm going to get lots of time is in the summer.

    @ Kathleen, yes, a great suggestion from the husband. And writing my schedule was easier than writing a more detailed post.

    @ Ann, sorry about your lost Fridays. Unless we can devote more or less full-time to write, it's always a squeezing in job, isn't it?

    @ Hilary, thanks. The things that enrich my life (work, kids) also take time away from writing. That's life. I know I'm not alone.

    @ Mr. A, that's what I do when I don't have a sub job - I write for 3-4 hours each morning. Now that I've been working full-time, I've lost that time. I was hoping to make it up this week. But now I know I need to be more realistic.

  12. Wow! Your winter break is later than ours here in Illinois. Enjoy it!!
    Many of my afternoons are free as my youngest is in afternoon kindergarten. Though it seems that only one or two afternoons I don't have an appt or volunteering at school or something comes up! Then there's the housework that seems to be calling me as I sit to write. So I do find it hard to keep to a schedule. I say I will, but I really really need to!
    Hope you get lots of writing in!

  13. Theresa Milstein!! You have to laugh!! LOL!!! Awwww what a lovely post!!! I can feel your frustration between 9.28 - 10.23!!! :-) Oh dear!!! This boy's household arrangements sound very complicated!!

    Glad it all worked out in the end!!!

    I hope you got some writing time in!!! Take care

  14. Ugh, what an insane morning! At least tomorrow always looks better.

  15. Yeah, if I try to keep to a schedule, it just doesn't work out, lol! Good luck!

  16. @ Kelly, it was the same for me when mine were younger. Between doing things for the school, my part-time job, and stuff at home, my writing time was never enough.

    Why do you have a short break?

    @ Old Kitty, glad I made you laugh. It was too complicated, wasn't it? When I agreed to the sleepover I had this sinking feeling something was going to interfere. And there you have it!

    @ Meredith, tomorrow is going to be my day. I'm going to make it so!

    @ lbdiamond, I guess it's the same with me. The best of intentions gone awry. As usual.

  17. LOL, the quote definitely is appropriate. I think instead of cursing I would have picked up a universal key... a rock :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  18. I feel for you. I have two kids myself(they're also on vacation this week) and I work full time, like so many of us do. Time always feels so short.

    The only way I get things done is by being selfish. This is my life too after all - it's only fair that I get to do some things for me. I make that the priority, even if it means the family has to make their own dinner now and again. My husband has hands, he can cook. LOL :) (one of my famous lines to him)

  19. Yikes!!! Why do those days always seem to happen when we've got something fun planned! Hope the rest of the day turned out well! :)

  20. Don't you just hate when that happens??? lol. Weclome to my world.

  21. Oh but you did write! Look at the funny (well, to us) story you captured with your words and delivered to us! Oh I hope tomorrow is Writing Wednesday for you ...

  22. Wow. I would have been on the news!!! Well, only in my head, where I get to act on my thoughts.....

    Schedule? Plan? Ha! Mine ALWAYS fall through. I should plan chaos and see what happens. Hmmmm, you may have given me an idea.

    Thanks for dropping by today and I really enjoy being your blog buddy, too :)

  23. What a day! Just reading it made me tired.

  24. Hahaha, your description made me laugh! But I'm laughing with you, not at you. :) I'm sorry you didn't get time to write, but it's like what they say...sometimes life just gets in the way.
    I have tried making schedules before, but the hard part is sticking to them. Like you said, something always seems to come up that prevents me from doing what I planned to do. It'd be easier if I lived in isolation and didn't have to answer to anyone. But then I might not have anything to write about.

  25. I hate moments like those and it does take ages to get back in the right frame of mind to write.

  26. I'm so sorry you had such a stressful day. :( I hope tomorrow goes better. :)

  27. Theresa, poor you. The frame of mind has to be right.
    What about trying to organise a sleepover for both your kids at their friends? May work for you.

  28. I so agree with all the above comments. Poor you.

  29. No schedule for me! There is just no use.

    I'll do nothing for 4 days and then write like crazy for 2. That's how I roll. Can't change it. :)

  30. Most entertaining blog post ever! I'm sorry you had one of those days. I hope you found time to write later, or maybe today? Who knows . . .

  31. @ Jules, glad you liked the quote. If the calling didn't work, I may have resorted to a rock but only to get the sister's attention. I didn't need to since she locked herself outside!

    @ CherylAnne, that is how it feels - make the time by being selfish. There's always cooking, laundry, and other chores to do. We have to carve out time. Yesterday didn't work, but I hope today will.

    @ Jemi, the day was filled with stuff to do. Post office food shopping, and laundry. My chicken korma came out pretty good.

    @ Tana, I'm not so unusual, am I? Though the story itself doesn't happen everyday!

    @ Joanne, I need to write FICTION. I'm not counting the blog stuff! Yes, today will be Writing Wednesday beginning at 9am.

    @ The Words Crafter, planning chaos sounds dangerous. Life has got so much unplanned chaos as it is!

  32. @ Kelly, glad that day is over! Today is filled with possibilities.

    @ Neurotic Workaholic, perfect point. If we don't participate in life, what would we write about?

    When it comes to planning and the act of writing itself, I'm a panster, like you. I can schedule here and there to write, but mostly it all gets done by the seat of my tights.

    @ Al, so true. I never got back into the right frame of mind yesterday, but I hope to get there today.

    @ Sharon, thank you. Me too!

    @ Brigid, they need to be invited. Today, my daughter will go to a friend's house. My son is self-sufficient. I'm going to write and write (I hope).

  33. @ Nas, thanks. Craziness/life happens!

    @ LR, I'm often like that too. But since I don't get much time anymore, I need to take advantage when I can. Today is the day... probably. Definitely.

    @ Angela, 9am blogging stops and writing begins!

  34. Blah... To the blah day! Still, you seem to have weathered it well all things considered!

    And chicken Korma! Yum! Do you use coconut milk, or yoghurt, or both?

    I hope that today works out for you!

  35. I am worn out reading your day!

    No schedule for me. I try. I fail. I give up. ;0

  36. @ Alesa, at least I'm making it up today. I tweaked chapters 17-21 and wrote 3.5 words so far. Since it's 2:20 pm, I should probably shower soon. And iron.

    I used coconut milk, but I think next time I'd do a yogurt combo. It came out pretty. Tonight I'm cooking Saag Paneer.

    How do you make Korma?

    @ Glynis, I'm pretty unscheduled too. If I do have a day off, I try to spend the morning writing. But that only works if nobody is home.

  37. Oh my heck! I know I shouldn't be laughing but I am. Especially over the "choose a breakfast" badgering. I swear that's ALL I DO.

    Love the day. I never stick to a schedule. I do what I can at the last possible second.

  38. Thats such a good post, sorry for your hectic days but they made me feel better reading about them! esp your head spewing moment! Your not alone!

    Glad to hear in the comments section that you did get some writing!

    I agree fully with your quote, really well chosen, i used to have a schedule, mornings, two hours, three days a week, but somehow we parted ways..so much to do! These past few days I've taken to carrying around my writing folder to grab a moment during the day...knowing me I'll probably lose it!

    Thanks for this post!

  39. Your life sounds too much like mine, except for that part about being a teacher, which I admire. Love that quote!

    New follower

  40. @ Elana, I feel like a badger for everything. I need a badger badge.

    I only try create a schedule when I have too many days of getting nothing done.

    @ Niamh, it's sad how our time gets taken with other stuff. Today I got to write for hours and it was so satisfying. I won't be able to devote as much time tomorrow, but I hope to squeeze in some writing.

    @ Shopgirl, thanks for the comment. I guess being a parent brings the same challenges to everyone.

    Glad you became a follower!

  41. I'm jealous of your week full of writing! very jealous. hehe

    But then, I tend to do LESS writing when I'm on holidays.

  42. I see pink hair.... ?

    Insofar as I make korma, I use a mixture of coconut milk and crème fraiche, cashews, eggplant, and red onions (and spices of course).

    I've never made saag paneer, but Khnoum occasionally gets it when we go out for Indian. Are you making flat bread to go with these indian dishes?
    Mmm... Whenever you talk about cooking, you make me feel like eating. : j

  43. Wow sounds like a loooong day. I hope you managed to get some writing done with nothing else going wrong!

  44. @ Trisha, I don't get a week because there's too much else going on. Today, I'll be lucky if I cram in an hour! But I appreciate the week nonetheless. Thanks for the comment!

    @ Alesa, the pink hair is to promote The Liar Society by sisters Lisa and Laura Roecker. The protagonist has pink hair, so fellow bloggers are showing their support of the book by getting their hair pinkified. Should I do it for real?

    I never used eggplant in korma. My base is broth, cashews, onion, shallot, garlic, ginger, spices, a little coconut and a little cream.

    I love saag. No, I bought nan. We sometimes fry papadam, but not this time.

    @ Sari, I had a huge writing day yesterday. I'm about to post about it. Thanks for the comment!

  45. Perhaps you should celebrate the day you become a full time author with a new colour of hair? (^-^)

  46. @ Alesa, I'll probably go purple since it's my favorite color. Maybe I can convince the publisher to make the cover purple so it will look like a book promotion. I'm sure there are plenty of people my age with purple hair.

  47. Ahhh what a day you had there, Theresa! I wouldn't be in the right frame of mind either.

    Schedule? Argh. I can't follow one even if I try. My life is different each day. On a good day, I am able to write for hours when the conditions are perfect and my son is at school and well, the house is in order, and there aren't errands or any appointments to go to. February was a bad writing month for me. I wasn't able to do much. There was a lot of stress around me that I couldn't think properly and wasn't even able to read the book I have been wanting to read.

    How could I have missed this post?

  48. @ Len, if I try to have perfect conditions, I'd never write! But I do feel better when things are organized and quiet. And preferably some sun is streaming through the window.

    I'm glad you found the post!