Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Yesterday I ran off three copies of my manuscript--one for my editor, one for my agent, one for me. Before slipping them in the envelopes, I tied each with a bow. When I've worked so hard on something, a rubber band just doesn't seem enough. I should have known the story wasn't ready the first time I sent it in because I left off the bow.

Although I've worked on this story for years, the last few weeks have received my most dedicated focus. On the way to the Fed-X office, I told Shannon, "I wish I could keep that level of intensity for my work every day. Think of what I'd accomplish?"

"I think you might burn yourself out," she said.

Still, I couldn't help but fantasize. Was it Thomas Edison that had duplicates of the same clothes so he didn't have to waste any brain power trying to select what to wear? I thought about what my uniform might be--I could buy seven pairs of blue jeans, seven white shirts or green or should I pick a paisley print? Although knit wide-leg pants are more comfortable than jeans, aren't they? And I do enjoy my pajama day. I'd have to work that in. I think I would fail the Edison uniform part.

But after I dressed, I could establish a routine that revolved exclusively around my current work--When I ate breakfast I could imagine my main character eating breakfast. What would he eat? How would he eat? Every conversation would lead back to my story. For a moment I heard my husband's voice, "How does your plot fit in with what I just said about buying paint for the laundry room?" Yes, that might be exhausting to my friends and family.(Not to say I haven't been guilty of that).

When I returned from Fed-X, I found my house in shambles. My plants had wilted from weeks of neglect, my office floor and desk hid under mounds of paper and coffee cups, a mountain of laundry was piled near the washing machine. It was a glimpse of what constant intensity could lead to.

"I'm taking the rest of the week off," I told Jerry.

"You should take more than that," he said. "You've been working seven days a week the last few months. Haven't you heard of a vacation?"

As a writer, it's hard to not think of my work 24/7. Because quite honestly, it doesn't feel like work most days. It feels like something I'm called to do, something I want to do well. It's in my genes. When I was a girl, my mom sewed constantly. Now the garden is her passion. My 94 year old grandfather is the same way. He gets up early and works in the yard.

Believe me, I know living a balanced life is beautiful. I've struggled with it for years. But I'm going to start right now by giving my plants a drink of water and putting a load of whites in the laundry. And I might even wear a dress today.

***Congratulations to: Kristel Sexton of Amarillo, Tricia Hock of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and Jenny Manning of Bryant, Arkansas. You each have won a CD of Piper Reed Navy Brat.

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