Time to Write

Time Management Woes

As you may realize, this past winter I’ve become increasingly frustrated with my lack of order and productivity. This isn’t new; all my life I’ve refused to be a slave to schedules and To-Do lists — but this has left me with a case of chronic indecision. Bogged down with “Where to start?”

Also, I’ve been a hoarder. Part of my effort to make improvements I’ve already written about: decrease the paper clutter; finish small writing projects. But the bigger projects still await my attention — and zeal. Too many “Started, not finished” projects are like a stone holding your head under water.

This week a book title popped up in BookBub:
10 time management choices that can change your life.

I checked it out and decided to take a chance. I’ve have been working my way through it in the past few days and it’s been nailing me right and left. Addressing issues like why you never get done the big things because of wasting time, indecision, procrastination. Creative people who hop from one project to another. Never finishing — or starting— a project because you’re too much of a perfectionist. Examples of others who sound so much like me. Ouch!

From what I’ve read so far, I can heartily endorse the book. How much benefit I get from it depends on how many changes I’m willing to make in my day-to-day activities. One quote really hit home, citing my prime nemesis:

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” Goethe

Now I’m thinking specifically of my writing projects sitting on the back burner. The books I’ve written for NaNoWriMo, for example. I can see how lack of accountability and lack of a deadline have stalled me. You could say, “Filling my days with the things which matter least.”

I was once a part of a writing group that met once a week and was a real inspiration to keep working at my writing. I miss that. So I’d like to ask you readers for your suggestions. I’m looking for online writing partners or a group that will add some pressure, some deadlines.

Last night I googled and checked out online writing groups, hoping to find one where members exchange chapters for critiquing. Some beta readers or an editor who will reply in reasonable time and won’t cost this penniless writer a lot of dough. Not a given weekly writing assignment, but feed-back on my WIPs. (By e-mail; no Facebook, Yahoo groups or Skype.)

I’m hoping to find a few critique partners somewhat on my own wavelength. I’m happy to give feedback on others’ writing but don’t want to have to read ten zombi and/or horror chapters a week just to get feedback for my own mild tales. (Been there, done that once.)

Any suggestions? Anyone interested in reading and critiquing, sharing WIP projects? If so, please leave a comment, or email me at christinevanceg @ gmail.com

Snow, Woe and Micro-Tales

We’ve had a fair bit of snow this past week; our world is quite dazzling white now. And it has been COLD! Yesterday our grandson, now working for his dad doing snow removal, came with a loader and cleaned out our driveway. Hard to realize he’s big enough, and mature enough, to operate such big machinery. How the years do fly!

I’ve been besieged by a new ailment this week. Old Arthritis in disguise. Monday morning my right foot — particularly my big toe — started to hurt. The pain has gotten worse, the swelling increased. Looks and feels like a genuine “club foot” now as I limp around the house. Not very nice.

Heading into Week Two of NaNoWriMo today and I’m well on the way as scenes keep coming to me for my story. Since I’ll be doing a lot of sitting this week anyway, maybe I can aim to have my 50k words written by Sunday night. 🙂 Then comes the edit — though I am editing a bit as I go along. Even if it reduces my overall word count, I will take out unwanted words and fix typos. Don’t like leaving a mess to clean up later.

Speaking of writing, I just got an e-mail telling me that one of my newest 100-word stories was published on The Drabble this morning. You might call this crime fiction — or you might not. You can read it here: “I Confess”

A Pocketful of Stones

Out for a walk along our graveled country road, I spotted a perfect “bug” stone. In the past I have done some painting on rocks and my grandson has been pestering me to paint some more bugs. So as I walked along I was keeping my eyes open for smooth stones that would paint up into neat little beetles.

I picked up the stone and slipped it into my pocket. Before long I spotted another … and another. Some stones were oblong, some oval, one perfectly round and flat. The perfect ladybug.

Tumbled centuries ago — maybe for years — in the water currents until they were nice and smooth, these stones came to rest in an underground pit. Men came along with big machines load all this gravel onto trucks and spread it on our road bed. Many stones have come through this process intact.

After I’d pocketed half a dozen stones of various sizes I began to feel the weight of them. They weren’t rough or disturbing, just gently heavy. That side of my jacket pulled a bit as I walked. And I was seeing more “perfect bug” specimens that I could take along with me. I had to start saying “No more. Nice shape or not, it stays right there!”

I have this tendency to look down at the road as I walk, but I soon realized that if I didn’t want a pocketful of rocks weighing down my every step, I’d need to keep my eyes fixed on the horizon until I was home.

Funny how such small things can teach a big lesson. Those stones really aren’t a valuable commodity of themselves. If I use them profitably — paint them up and please the grandson — well and good. But if I set them aside when I get home, saying, “Someday I will,” they become just one more clutter, another item on my to-do list, another weight on my mind.

In our electronic world we can lose focus, too. There are so many interesting social sites to suck up our hours, we can lose sight of our important life-goals. I haven’t picked up Facebook, Twitter, etc, but was involved in Linked In for a time. So much to learn, so many groups to connect with! And now I have a book to promote, so two weeks ago I picked up a weighty stone when I signed up for Goodreads. So many interesting books to read and review, friends to make! I can see how this site alone could consume a lot of time.

I have my blog and read or follow many others. Some days dozens of e-mails and notifications flood my Inbox; I find myself checking my e-mail twenty times a day and spending hours responding. Lately I have definitely been feeling the weight!

NaNoWriMo has been sending out notices lately, too, reminding me to sign up for the November novel-writing adventure. I plan to participate this year; yesterday I filled in the synopsis for the children’s story I hope to write.

My walk-about the other day reminded me that I’ve let many small things distract my long-range goal: the books I want to write/finish. Someday there will be an end to what I can accomplish in this world. If I don’t stop frittering away my time and weighing myself down by picking up appealing, but trivial, stuff along the way, I’ll have little to show for my time here.

Vacation Time

by Edgar Guest

Vacation time! How glad it seemed
When as a boy I sat and dreamed
Above my school books, of the fun
That I should claim when toil was done;
And, oh, how oft my youthful eye
Went wandering with the patch of sky

That drifted by the window panes
O’er pleasant fields and dusty lanes,
Where I would race and romp and shout
The very moment school was out.
My artful little fingers then
Feigned labor with the ink and pen.

But heart and mind were far away,
Engaged in some glad bit of play.
The last two weeks dragged slowly by;
Time hadn’t then learned how to fly.
It seemed the clock upon the wall
From hour to hour could only crawl,

And when the teacher called my name,
Unto my cheeks the crimson came,
For I could give no answer clear
To questions that I didn’t hear.
“Wool gathering, were you?” oft she said
And smiled to see me blushing red.

Her voice had roused me from a dream
Where I was fishing in a stream,
And, if I now recall it right,
Just at the time I had a bite.
And now my youngsters dream of play
In just the very selfsame way;

And they complain that time is slow
And that the term will never go.
Their little minds with plans are filled
For joyous hours they soon will build,
And it is vain for me to say,
That have grown old and wise and gray.

That time is swift and joy is brief;
They’ll put no faith in such belief.
To youthful hearts that long for play
Time is a laggard on the way.
‘T’was, oh, so slow to me back then
Ere I had learned the ways of men!