Sharon and John Ewing's backyard--
Northern Virginia fall 2013
Chasing Fleet-Footed Time
Many people are afraid of time, i.e., when something happens that frees an hour or even a whole day, they don’t know what to do with themselves. It can give me pause. Then I usually ask myself: What do I want to do? I give myself permission to choose anything, and I almost always choose to write in my diary, so I do. You’d think I’d run out of things to write about, but I never do. It’s, for me, those sudden extra hours, not the time to do the chores that have been waiting awhile. It’s a gift, so I enjoy it. Extra time, when it comes unexpectedly, is mine to revel in.
The chores that have waited this long can wait another day. When I can, I set aside a month or two to write a new novel, as I’m doing right now. This is the thirteenth Penny Weaver novel and takes up the new terrible voter ID bill that we have now in North Carolina.
Then I do as little as possible extra, avoid interruptions to my afternoon and evening writing times. If I do have to go out, I try to write at least an hour or two on my current novel before or after I go. That way I stay as much as possible every day in the novel’s world and fit the other parts of my life into the spaces.
The mind learns to be in that place where words flow if you take care to provide the time the mind needs, and if you persist–be there–and do your best until the words begin to meld themselves together and move along at a sprightly pace so that you have to write fast to keep up. It works for me. Don’t let time defeat you. Use it, enjoy it. It will, all to soon, be gone.
Another thing that helps me not waste or lose time is a daily schedule. Pat Dawson of Paperbacks Plus and I were emailing about our lists and schedule a few weeks ago. I did the following Saturday schedule for Pat. Enjoy! Laugh at me if you want to. Judy
One Saturday–Sept 28, 2013 For Pat
6:40 AM Woke, saw daylight barely through curtains, got up
Fed hens, dark in henhouse, but several jumped down to eat.
7-8:50 AM Diary and breakfast (toast, lemon-peppermint tea, milk, figs)
8:50. Checked email, dressed, got 2 each of Farm Fresh and Beaver Soul ready to mail Pat Dawson, at Paperbacks Plus, exchanged several funny emails with Pat, re our “jet-setting, following lists and schedules
9:20. Fed hens a little scratch and fresh water in orchard; they came running when they saw me, squealing. Picked figs, some for me, some for Chatham Marketplace; not many; cardinals have been at them as they ripen.
9:45 left with Wag (dog) for PO; chatted briefly with Susan, our postmaster, mailed Pat’s books
10 AM Bought milk at Mini Mart, 2 gals. A man with bad teeth, driving a beat up pickup truck with a differently colored door, said hello, and as I was putting first gallon in car, handed me the other one where I’d put it on the hood, startling both Wag and me.
10:10. Walked at a good clip; mile and a half in 30 min, Wag in backyard.
10:50. Email and this list–a normal Sat, but details.
11-11:35. Cut dead wood off raspberry canes, which are putting out new leaves; picked okra, one pepper, and 3 zinnias for me. Fed/checked hens (veg scraps and scratch)
11:35-45. More email–the DSL quit earlier.
11:45-1:10 PM, made lunch (grilled cheese sandwich, salad, milk, lemon tea), ate and read E. George book, Playing for the Ashes.
1:10-2:50 PM. Carried compost from coop floor to spread on raspberry canes, to encourage new leaves and a few berries; chickens helped spread it.
2:50 PM Worked on revising/shortening Political Peaches, fifth Penny Weaver novel. 82,669–81,633 aim: 70,000 words
(When I got sleepy around 2:30, I got up, folded yesterday’s clean laundry–it helps to move around when I get sleepy mid-afternoon, as I often do)
3:30 PM break for yoghurt-fruit drink and reading novel.
4 PM. Got weed-eater and cord outside (fortunately didn’t have to re-string it), weed-ate as needed in backyard and vegetable garden where no plants now, only weeds. Checked for eggs. One hen still sitting. Scolded Wag, who’d been digging vole holes again, and gave her none of her usual treats. She looked crest-fallen.
5:10 PM took care of old emails.
5:20 PM read until time to fix supper and wash dishes
5:40–wash dishes, prepare supper (beef and rice from trade with Angelina, steamed okra dipped in butter; toast and jam, lemon tea).
6:10–eat and read; then read
6:50–check email (none)
6:55. Started yoghurt, shut up hens, and then: Wrote in my diary–turned off ringer, my night off.
9 PM, checked email, wrote to Gloria, who is almost a daily correspondent–another mystery writer, poet, and farmer, my age.
9:25 PM Put away eggs in refrigerator, heated tea, read until 10 PM, put yoghurt to bed
10:10 PM then bath, exercises, more reading.
11:15PM Lights out, bed. (Slept until 6:30 next morning)
Note: Weekdays, instead of turning to my diary Saturday night, I do two more hours of work (teaching/editing or writing new novel). But quit at 9 PM. The rest is the same. Sunday AM I write in my diary, then a poem or a little novel-writing; then about 11 AM do my blog and check email. Then back to the afternoon schedule.