I found a photo on the internet of a beautiful woman on the floor strategically placed at a laptop, her legs opened, lap top between her knees, a glass of wine to her left and loose papers strewn about. The shot was from above so there was ample cleavage for the viewer. Because I don’t have rights to it, I’m not going to use the photo here but you get the picture (pun intended). Cool. Now, do something with me—Laugh—not at the model but with the composition of this contrived moment. When I saw that photo I laughed—out loud in my house, by myself. And then I said, out loud, to no one, yeah, that’s exactly what I look like when I’m writing! The sarcastic tone poured out of me like words on a good writing day. And that made me laugh some more.
Writing isn’t glamorous. In fact it’s a bit of a grind. For me, it looks more like this (see picture below). Here I am reading and rereading some words while I munch on nuts and dried fruit. Even my snack isn’t sexy. I’m in sweats, cozy AF (as the cool kids say) on the couch, under a blanket. Not glamorous at all.
Let’s talk about time
A few days ago I left the school tired from a busy day of working with teens. Taking my walk home over the bridge and through the park I looked forward to time to decompress. It was a chilly gloomy day, not cheery at all. It matched my mood pretty well. I thought about how I’m still in the middle of winter—still, and how time is just this weird thing that keeps moving forward, but rotating at the same time. Next year around this time I’ll likely be feeling the same sort mid winter blues stuff—unless I metaphorically light everything on fire and go to Cuba.
Time seems to always be on my mind. It’s like I want to get the best bang for my buck with the minutes of my life. It’s an awareness I have. There’s this great book called Buddha’s Little Instruction Book, a compilation by Jack Kornfield. In it is the quote ‘The trouble is you think you have time.’ This is a brilliant reminder of how time messes with us—hours fly by in minutes and minutes can take forever. And I’ve spent my life so far trying to manage it.
The number crunch
My writing partner has taught me some very basic things about being efficient with time. He asks questions. How many words? When’s the deadline? Then he does some basic math and division. His answer is always something like this: so that’s X number of words a day until the deadline. Simple really. Now I do that with most creative endeavors because that’s how things get done. You sit down—on your floor in a slinky black dress with a lap top between your legs and a glass of merlot and get the words out. Simple really. Anything other than that is just excuses keeping me from creativity and not getting work done.
I try my very best to use my waking hours productively. I have a list of things I do daily and it is important to my mental health that I get these things done. And, like I mentioned above, the day to day is not glamorous—at all. It’s more a game of organizing time and thoughts. Doing work. Checking things on a list. Not glamorous. Not sexy.
Sexy comes when I don’t feel panic because I’ve managed my time well. It shows up when I’m happy and confident that I met a deadline. It’s not being frantic. It’s being confident. It’s using my time to do the things I love. It’s knowing I’ve done my best, the best I can, with the time I had. All that is sexy!
So cozy story teller me cleans up at a book signing when I’m fresh and chatting and likely wearing something new; when a major project has finished and I have a bit more time on my hands; when I feel accomplished—when I see people grateful for the stories Counios and Gane have written and when people wait patiently for the next book to add to their collection.
Because of my mental preoccupation with time it makes sense that I’m always busy trying to keep things going between the job of writing and the job of teaching. When I pondered what I was going to write about in this particular blog post I had a few thoughts that started with the idea of writing not being a glamorous activity. However, writing IS glamorous when it’s not stressful and timelines are sexy and incredibly helpful.
…and that’s it!!