August 11, 2021 @ 5:21 pm | Filed under: ,

August 2008. The baby has several inches on me now but the bookstacks are just about the same.

I’ve learned, by now, that in the days before a writing deadline, many of my good habits and creative practices slide away. Often, I go into overkill mode and obsessively power through chores that could absolutely wait until after I finish the writing assignment. Last week, with yesterday’s Dart deadline approaching, the obsessions were updating my long-neglected (we’re talking months) Goodreads & sidebar book logs, and a handstitching project meant to help with the writing, not haunt my every thought.

The Goodreads update took so long that I fizzled out before getting to the sidebar; and then I had the bright idea of outsourcing the update to Beanie. (I mentioned to a friend that I was hiring Bean to do some virtual assistant work for me. The friend gave me an amused look and asked, “Don’t you mean actual assistant? Not virtual? You’re in the same house.” I burst out laughing. Yes. Of course. Not virtual when you’re in the same house. Maybe I’m tireder than I realize.)

Well, thanks to Beanie, all my booklists—including the sidebar here—are up to date. Links go (mostly) to, where I have a little storefront that supports independent bookstores and sends a small referral fee my way. Both Bean and Rilla jumped in to add favorite titles to a few of the lists I’m building there—Rilla started her own list!—and we plan to keep adding to our collections. Most of our lists are still in their infancy. It’s a big project, combing our shelves for our best-loved books.

But where was I going with this post? I started it twelve hours ago and have lost the thread. Oh yes, breadcrumbs. When I curled up with my cocoa this morning, I felt like a stranger to my own self. What did I use to do in these quiet dawn hours? It had only been a week, less than a week, but my poetry mornings felt extremely far away.

I reached for my notebook and was relieved to find I still inhabited the pages. Read—write—stretch—stitch—breathe. As simple as that. Maybe sketch a little, water the garden before the heat flattens us all. My “seven sevens” (pick any activity from that list and do it for at least seven minutes, and fall into whichever one opens up for me) caught me, stilled the aimless spinning, reminded me how creative practice works.

It seemed hardly ten heartbeats later that Huck came to get me for our walk. He finished his garden-watering job on Monday but we decided we both loved the early-morning walk so much that we wanted to keep it up. Today he wanted to visit the giant sequoia seven blocks east. Another seven, sending me into the day.

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2 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. tanita says:

    At one point I was thrilled to have a book coming out while selling a book with a December deadline. I thought I had weathered the worst of the pandemic constant worry thrum with an intact brain. I’m discovering that’s not the case; I have periods of just …not even thinking I know how to write. The panicked swirling is real – and what grounds me is indeed things like “Okay, I know how to do mornings; I start like this, I go do this, and then, and then, and then.” Much of it is things like this – choose a routine and let it move you organically through the day.

    You’re still here. I see you. I remember what you say and try to steer my ship by your star sometimes. We’re going to get through this.

  2. Karen Edmisten says:

    Yes to the overkill on chores and projects when a writing project is due. I used to think I was alone in this until nearly every writer friend I know confirmed some version of it. 🙂 I have a book deadline coming up *very* soon, so of course I’ve decided that I need to declutter all our bookshelves and move furniture. So funny and relatable about the virtual assistant line. 🙂

    Tanita, yes, the panicked swirling is real. I was just listening to a podcast about anxiety the other day and he was advising precisely what you said: “I start like this, I go do this, and then, and then, and then.” Yes. We will get through. One “then” at a time.