During a perfect week I wash my hair on Sundays and Wednesdays so I only have to take the time to blow dry my hair once during the work week. Please don’t confuse this with I only shower on Sundays and Wednesdays. (I actually wouldn’t mind that, but my co-workers might.) That’s what shower caps are for. Yes, my hair is a disaster on Saturdays and spends all day in a frizzy mess of a ponytail. Or under a hat. But I’m a forty-nine year old suburbanite. We don’t go out most Saturday nights.
On a typical week something goes awry in my allowable-hair-dirtiness plan and I end up washing my hair twice during the work week making my hair look better, but also making me late(r than usual) to work.
On a perfect week I start my Sunday morning with a four mile run at 7:30 completed in forty-four minutes. (Hey, I just started running a year ago. And I’m old. And not racing anybody. So shut up about how slow I am!) Then I have coffee with my friends around a fire pit at Stonehaus. (Who yes, if you must know all finished before me. Even the ones who ran five miles.) I get up at five o’clock to write even on Sundays so I have plenty of time to pack some Greek yogurt (the delicious full-fat kind) and fruit or put some oatmeal and peanut butter in a thermos to take with me for breakfast after the run. (Yes, I take my own breakfast to a coffee house. Shhh! I’m on a budget!)
On a typical week I “sleep in” until six, waste time on Facebook, lose track of time and rush out the door at 7:26, with no time to make breakfast and making my friends wait in the cold for me to arrive so I can run behind them.
On a perfect week I clean my room on Sundays, do all my laundry, put it all away, and pick out my outfits for the week including accessories.
On a typical week I manage to do all my laundry, but don’f fold it until nine o’clock while we’re watching The Walking Dead, and put it in a laundry basket where it will remain (in the den) until Tuesday, okay Wednesday Friday. I kind of visualize in my head what I’ll wear that week (and still change 2-3 times each morning before putting the original outfit back on). My room remains a mess for another week.
During a perfect week I will go to Trader Joe’s and Costco on Sunday, plan my meals for the week, and not have to return to the store until the following Sunday.
On a typical week we will run out of milk on Tuesday morning. Wednesday night if I buy two. And that Tuesday or Wednesday milk-run will likely be the second time since my Sunday shopping trips that I have to run back to Trader Joe’s to pick up something I forgot. I will probably go a minimum of two more times until the following Sunday. (Sometimes those two times will happen on the same day.)
During a perfect week I will get my shopping done early so I have time to do some cooking for the week. I’ll cook some ground turkey and quinoa and roast some vegetables then chop them up small with my Pampered Chef food chopper and mix it all together. Then I’ll put the mixture into five containers, the turkey and quinoa weighed and measured for the appropriate protein to carb ratio (20g protein, 30g carbs), ready for grab-and-go lunches for the week. As I’m preparing my lunches I’ll also make a nice Sunday dinner, and put together some gringo enchiladas (only gringos use cream cheese and flour tortillas for enchiladas) or a meatloaf to pop into the oven one night during the week.
On a typical week I don’t make it to the market until 4:00 when it’s overcrowded and they are out of at least one of the things I want the most. I get home much too late to make my turkey quinoa mash, but at least I managed to buy broccoli slaw and kale to mix together for salads that will be made in the morning instead of the night before, making me late(r) and will surely get stuck in my teeth (which is awesome because I usually eat lunch at my desk). I also remember that gringo enchiladas are too fattening and that my kids hate meatloaf. (Even though, trust me, my meatloaf recipe, which is actually my Uncle John’s meatloaf recipe, is the bomb. I will have to post it one day.)
During a perfect week I will pop out of bed every morning at the first sound of my 5AM alarm, pour myself a cup of coffee that has already been brewed because it was set up the night before and I will write.
But y’all know I never have perfect weeks don’t you?
Well, Kim asked anyway. And since I want to be a writer like Kim when I grow up (you know, one who actually gets paid to do it – on a regular basis), when Kim asks, I answer.
She invited me to participate in a blog tour called My Writing Process (#mywritingprocess). My Writing Process is apparently a way to connect with other bloggers who identify themselves as writers. Yes, all bloggers write, but that doesn’t necessarily make them writers. (One look at Pinterest will tell you that.) I do not say that with any sort of snobbery or contempt (I mean, come on, what I write is certainly not literature), but to say people blog for different reasons. Some blog to show off their DIY prowess, some blog recipes, some blog simply to make money, and some of us, we blog to write. I blog to write.
So now I have to answer some questions and then pay this task privilege forward to three more writers who have blogs.
1. Why do I write what I do?
I walk around all day with a lot of chatter in my head. When I’m driving to work, when I’m running, when I’m fixing dinner my head is filled with incredibly clever and funny things to write. Things I must write. Of course then I sit down to write them and they escape me. What was that brilliantly funny thing I conjured up in the car on the way to work? I’ll think to myself. And I can’t remember. Or worse I do remember and once I type it out I see it wasn’t very brilliant at all. It’s torturous. (And trust me when I say that all writers are tortured.) But every once in a while that thing does work on paper (or the screen) and it’s clever and funny and brilliant (okay, I’ve never actually been brilliant) and that makes the torture almost worth it.
Also, I talk a lot (a lot) so I guess writing is just another way for me to keep talking when no one is around. I’m kidding. (A little.) I think writing is a way of connecting with people. There are so many times I read things and think to myself, “Yeah, I feel that way too,” so I hope what I have to say (or rather what I write) resonates with people. That they read my words and think, “Yeah, I feel that way too.”
Plus if you want to know the dirty truth, I like people to tell me I’m awesome. But people don’t tend to walk up to me and say, “Hey Charlene, I think you’re awesome.” But they do sometimes walk up to me and say, “You’re blog post was so funny.” Which is sort of the same thing.
So I guess I write what I do to quiet the voices in my head, to connect with people, and to fulfill my sad and desperate need for approval. And to torture myself. (And feel awesome.)
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Do I have a genre? I don’t consider myself a “Mommy Blogger” because I rarely write about my kids these days. At 17 and 13, I feel I don’t have the right to tell their story anymore. (Though every once in a while I can’t help myself.) So whatever my genre is – personal essay, lifestyle, or as I like to call it – “slice-of-life,” I guess what makes my work different is that they’re my stories to tell. The crazy chatter from my brain. Of course that makes everyone’s work different doesn’t it? I suppose others are much better at getting to the point. I’ve always admired others who can say a lot with very few words, where as I tend to do the opposite, which is saying very little with as many words as possible. (For example I could have cut the last eleven words out of the previous sentence and it would have had the same meaning, but I justcan’t! And this post? Waaaay too long. Sorry about that!)
3. How does your writing process work?
I get up early – 5:00 almost every day (yes, even weekends) to write. The plan is to pour a cup of coffee sit down in the quiet calm of my house and write. I don’t have an office, so I sit with my laptop at the kitchen table in my daughter’s spot. I don’t know why I always choose her chair over my own. Maybe because it looks out into the backyard. I open the curtains and watch the night turn to day as I tap away at my keyboard. Or sometimes I will write in a notebook – three pages, for those of you familiar with “morning pages.” I wrote the first draft book that way – pen to paper in the wee morning hours. Well, that is ideally how my writing process works – early, alone, in the dark.
Lately it is something much closer to what happened today. It’s Saturday as I start to write this and I’ve gone to bed late every night this week so I allowed myself to “sleep in” until about 6:15 this morning. I planned to walk the dog at 7:00 and go for a three mile run at 8:00, so I knew I wouldn’t have much time, but I wanted to get a few thoughts out. Then I went on TimeSuck – I mean Facebook, so no writing took place – unless you call commenting on the triumphs and tragedies and (mostly) minutiae of my friends’ lives and informing them about the triumphs and tragedies and (mostly) minutiae of mine writing.
After the Facebooking and the dog walking and the running I woke Marley up and made her breakfast and then took her to an event at school. I was home a little before 10:00 and Chandler and Dave had left for the day, but instead of coming back to write immediately I rolled on my foam roller to work out the kinks from running, took a shower (well, after the running that was fairly necessary), threw a load of laundry in the washer, stripped my bed (but decided I’d put my clean sheets on later), cried my eyes out as I read the article in the Times about that horrific bus crash carrying college-bound high school students to Humbolt, and then threw the load in the dryer (after taking the time to hang my gym clothes and delicates), and then finally sat down to write this post. I typed two sentences and the phone rang. It was Marley, ready to be picked up.
I picked her up, took her to the library, went to Trader Joes’s for necessities (milk and wine), came home, had lunch, and then went to her lacrosse game. (Marley was goalie, her team won, it was awesome!) We returned at 3:30, I put clean sheets on my bed, stopped myself from taking the time to do the pillow cases, and sat down to write.
Oh, I didn’t finish of course. I only had about half an hour before I had to do other things. So I got up at 5:00 Sunday morning and wrote some more (like I was supposed to – alone and in the dark). And now I’m finishing this early Monday.
So I guess you could say my process is to get up early under the guise of writing and then avoid writing as much as possible until I can’t avoid it any longer. I don’t know why I procrastinate. I think is has something to do with the torture. Or maybe so I can convince myself that my writing sucks because I “don’t have time” to do it properly.
4. What am I working on?
Hmmm… other than avoidance? Good question.
Another rejection letter, that was fairly constructive rather than the standard “it’s not you, it’s us, but really it’s you because your writing sucks” form letter, is forcing me to look at my novel again. What can I take out without losing my voice? How can I punch it up? Make it funnier? Make you want to read more. I’m actually considering changing my beloved first line -my hook- which I’ve held onto as if my life depended on it. But perhaps the life of my book depends on me letting it go.
And I recently wrote a piece for Listen to Your Mother that got rejected. Which is fine, really. (Though it does make me bitter petty enough to not give them a link.) There were only 12 spots available and I think that at least 14 people auditioned, so you know, odds were against me. In all seriousness, unlike the poorly edited drivel I usually post here, it’s a kick-ass piece that has a place somewhere, so I need to shop it.
And of course I try to post here every Monday, but as I’ve stated, the chatter in my head often doesn’t translate to my fingers.
Okay, are we done with this? Now that I’ve bored you all to tears if you’ve even made it this far (which I suspect most people haven’t – I probably wouldn’t) and you no longer like me because you’ve figured out how weird I am?
Anyway, now is the part where I pick three people to keep this tour moving. Picking only three people is very hard. Picking three people who will actually do it (and not murder me) is even harder, but here are my three:
Tina Drakakis – my soul mate from skirt.com. Yeah, I always pick her for things. Because she is kick ass and awesome and 1,000 times funnier than me, which makes me really want to hate her, but I can’t because I love her too much. Plus she’s been posting a lot to her blog lately, but I haven’t seen much that is new, so I’m giving her a kick in the butt to get back at it. She loves it when I do that. (Or maybe not.)
Rina Nedar – her blog, Mommy Has a Story, is quite lovely. You should read it. And her fiction is even better. Plus she started the writing group I’m currently in that makes me set goals and keeps me accountable, which quite frankly, I find a little bossy, so now I’m going to make her do something. (So ha ha Rina!)
Abby Byrd – her blog Little Miss Perfect is hilarious. She says fuck a lot, calls her two-year-old an asshole, and isn’t afraid to piss people off. I would like to say the F-word more (like I do in real life), but people have told me they don’t like it, and I don’t like to piss people off (except for the three people I just named, obviously) so I don’t use it as much as I’d like to in my blog. And as I stated above, my kids are older now, so I can’t call them assholes. Oh, and Abby uses a pen name for her blog, but one day when her memoir is published (and it’s great, so it will be), you will know her real name, trust me on that.
Get to work ladies – you have one week to expose your soul to the internet. But hey, you’re writers. You’re used to that.
(And for those of you who stuck with this entirely-too long post, I really do thank you.)