I’m going to state this right upfront; get it over with; air my thoughts before we delve into this subject deeply: I don’t understand how people get through life without music. A life void of melody is unfathomable to me.
My parents listened to music every day and I’m told when I was strong enough to stand, I was holding onto the crib rail and bobbing to Cal Smith singing on the old black and white television. The radio in the kitchen was on every day without fail. If it broke, as tight as money was, a new one appeared without delay. The radio in the truck was always tuned to music; no talk shows for us. When my dad installed an 8-track player in the truck, that played more than the radio.
We had a floor model stereo with a radio and record player, which could easily be moved to the deck or the lawn. That thing is more than 40 years old and still going.
It’s time. I’ve put it off long enough. My butt has to get in gear, my fingers have to start walking and my procrastination has to be slain. Regardless of how busy my life is, I must seize my disorganised mess and lynch it before it takes me down.
Being unorganised is about to drive me batty. I’m one more lost manuscript away from throwing myself on the floor and wailing like a three-year-old whose sibling ate the last mud cookie.
Yesterday while looking for a password – a very important password – I was left going through one stack of papers then another. After searching my day-planner – knowing I must have recorded it somewhere – and several other ideal locations, I flopped down in the chair defeated. The password was gone, never to be remembered because my brain is filled with the many things that I must do before I die. Of course, that might not be for fifty years, but I can’t live like I have all the time in the world.
Certainly, I don’t want to spend fifty years looking for things that should be at my fingertips.
It would be easier if I had a room, a wee one even, to hoard all my writing-related things, but I don’t. One is planned, but I don’t see it materialising before I lose something very important that hurls me over the edge of insanity. Instead, my material – computer, printer, paper, books, pens, manuscripts, dictionaries, documents and files – are spread throughout four rooms and three closets.
Time is at a premium between writing, working, house chores, my children, homework, horseback riding, art class and swimming. I attempt to place papers in the proper pile, but usually, the piles all come together. When it gets tall enough, I move it off my printer and onto a shelf. Then a new pile starts to grow on the printer. I have no idea how many piles I have; they eventually land in a tote where I promise to sort them but never do.
It wasn’t always this way. I used to be quite organised, perhaps a little over the top like Julia Robert’s husband in Sleeping with the Enemy. Everything was labelled and had its place. But my kids have worn me down, taken up valuable space that would have otherwise gone to neatly arranged shelves and cabinets and used up time I’d have spent putting everything just right.
Since I plan on keeping the kids – they’re too cute to give away – I must learn to organise around them. If I throw out everything no longer needed – such as those toys they haven’t played with for five years J — I might be able to create space for a tall bookshelf. Maybe I could empty out a closet and find that manuscript of the western novel I’d written fifteen years ago but haven’t been able to locate for five years.
I admit I’m a clutterbug. I have good intentions of sorting and organising but something always comes up – sketching kittens with my kids . . . taking in a movie with my sisters . . . building snowwomen . . . camping . . . fishing . . . beachcombing . . .
Has disorganisation slowed your progress? How do you keep all the writing-related papers – queries, rejection/acceptance letters, guidelines, manuscripts, notes, research – in order?
A few weeks ago, I was struggling to meet a deadline. Everyone else in the house was doing their thing: chatting, playing games or watching television. I was at the computer, forming sentences, creating paragraphs and editing to get an article completed.
The commotion in the kitchen – where my make-shift office is located – was more distracting than usual. It was a no-school day, so all the kids were home. Blocking out noise, refereeing arguments and serving meals are the disadvantage of working at home.
My kids don’t go to a babysitter’s or a daycare on a no-school day even though it’s a work day for me. They can sleep in, we can stay home and if we want, we can take a day trip to a museum, beach or visit with family. Storm days, sick days and any other stay-home day are a breeze because I’m already home. That’s the advantage of working at home.
But on this day, the day I struggled to meet a deadline with the noise level continuing to rise, working at home with kids in the house didn’t seem like an advantage at all.
For a moment, I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath. I knew I’d eventually finish the article – I’d done it many times before under worse circumstances – but that day, it just seemed like more of a challenge.
That’s when my youngest, only seven years old, crawled onto my lap. He’d been bugging me earlier about finishing the back cover for the book he’d written and I thought he was going to ask about it again even though I told him I didn’t have time until later. But he didn’t. Instead, he looked at the computer and gave me a big hug. Then he looked up at me and said, “I’m glad you’re a writer.”
He gave me a sweet little smile, jumped off my lap then raced off to play with his older brother. As I watched him go, I couldn’t help but smile, too.
My energy renewed, I returned to the keyboard to finish the article. I was happy, too, that I was a writer and had a deadline to meet and that my kids were at home with me.
I love rambling along the garden path but a list reminds me I have important things to do.
More than a dozen years ago while taking a break from installing vinyl siding on a building we were renovating on the Shearwater Air Force Base, I took out a list I was following. Another worker – the fellow who amazed me by driving his motorcycle ten months of the year – leaned over and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was checking my weekly list.
He chuckled and said, “I used to make lists, but I’d never follow them. I’d have to make a note to remind me to look at the list.”
To this day I think about his comment every time I make a new list. He was right in many ways. People make lists all the time only to forget about them the moment they’ve been made. I’m guilty of that. I’ve made many lists over the years that were useless, useless in the fact that I didn’t follow them.
Still, it doesn’t mean lists are useless. Sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes the things on the list weren’t as important as first believed.
In fact, lists are very important to me. They remind me of what I need to do. Without them, I ramble, dilly-dally, believing there’s nothing important to do, and I daydream, wondering what I might do.
Sometimes it takes a few weeks for me to realise I’ve been without a list for too long. It’s when it suddenly occurs to me that nothing is done on an assignment and the deadline is fast approaching, or a project I intended to start was forgotten about.
Making a list of things to do gets me moving forward. I check them off when completed, and if I finish the list, I feel as though I’ve accomplished something.
Do you find yourself floundering, wondering why you can’t get things done? Then maybe a list will help you get back on track.