Hey Self: Have a Slice of Humble Pie… No, no… I insist.


My last post was almost a full year ago.  When I wrote that post, I had a goal; I had a mission; I had a plan.  I would be done the complete first draft of my manuscript by Nov 2013 and I’d have something worthy of being circulated to agents and publishers by the end of the year. 

The end of the year is coming this week… apparently a lot can change in twelve months.

Given the look-at-me-I’m-a-Martha-Stewart-of-time-management flavor of my last post, there’s some poetic justice to my current situation.  I should know better than to preach.  That should be Rule #5, I suppose.   But I’ve foregone the rules for this post. 

It’s been a year…  and I wrote a grand total of two chapters.  It makes me feel sick to my stomach to even type that out.

Oh, I’ve had a few doozies of excuses.  My husband lost his job and moved 1400 km away looking for employment.  That left me with the kids, the dog and a 30-year-old house in desperate need of some major renovations before we could even hope to put it up for sale in a slow-moving market.  And amidst trips to visit Daddy, ripping out flooring, replacing electrical outlets, switches, trim and doors, a fresh coat of paint, and finding myself a new day-job 1400 km away, I simply (and consciously) put ALL the writing on hold. 

At the time I called it a calculated act of prioritization – after all, life had thrown us a curve ball and we deserved some time to react– but I’ll be honest, I could have found the time. 

I should have found the time. 

Perhaps it wouldn't have been realistic to expect myself to keep the same target I'd begun the year with (given everything else that was now on my plate) but I still could have found a way to carve out a few hours a week to at least keep my novel moving along.  I just didn’t.

There’s likely some validity in me saying that the stress of the situation didn’t lead to much in the way of inspiration.  But even that feels a bit like a cop-out.   I let apathy creep in.  I pretended “I’ll just pick it up again when things are more calm” but things are never calm and I should have remembered that.  It was a convenient excuse for procrastination, shrouded in the guise of justifiable prioritization, but it really came down to the fact that at that time and at that place I just didn’t want it enough anymore. 

The voices and plotlines that had been excitedly bashing around in my mind for years just faded into the noise of the rest of my life and I didn’t hear them anymore.

I did keep my running up to some degree, which is likely the primary reason for my continued sanity.  But where I used to play out dialogue in my mind as my feet pounded the trails, I found myself playing out scenarios like “maybe it would be better if we bought separate houses instead...”

We packed the old house into “his” and “her” piles and as I filled boxes I came across a well-used, well-loved spiral notebook covered in purple velvet.  Truthfully, I had forgotten that I‘d even had it.  Over a decade before, as I returned to work at my government job after having my first daughter, I had kept a journal.  This notebook was a collection of rough poetry, musings, and notes on possible topics for future writing from that time. 

An hour passed while I sat in the middle of my craft room floor, flipping through the ripped and dog-eared pages of my early writing.  Much of it was unpolished, but some of it was raw and poignant and meaningful (even if only to me).   

I sat there and cried.  What the hell was I doing?

It’s been several months even since then.  I still haven’t written.  This blog entry is the first thing that I’ve written, apart from a “year in review” letter that I habitually send out to family and friends each year with our holiday greetings.  Of course the 2012 letter had proclaimed far and wide how I would be finishing my manuscript in 2013… This year’s letter was far less triumphant.

So here we are, at the cusp of 2014 and I’m trying to find my new norm. 

The girls are older.  We live near more of my family now and their Dad is still a big part of their lives so I have good opportunities to set up a workable writing schedule once the dust settles a bit.  I just need to WANT it enough to DO it. 

I still have the dog, she’s taken to waking me at 6:15am each morning to be fed (weekday or not), and the girls have started to actually sleep in on the weekends so I’m thinking that I might shift my writing to the mornings while the house is still and quiet… I’m frankly not sure how that will go.  I'm normally a night owl.

A year ago, I had graphs projecting the number of words I needed to write each week to achieve my goal.  It’s kind of a depressing file to open nowadays (and frankly it intimidates the hell out of me now), so I think my initial goals for the New Year will start off being a tad more generic:

#1) write a chapter,

#2) repeat.

Wish me luck.

I Don't Have Time is the Grown Up Version of The Dog Ate My Homework

[NOTE: image taken from]



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