Juggling Chainsaws

“Running, always you have to keep going. You need to die running.”
-Hyvon Ngetich

My morning pages today began with “I have a lot of reasons to not like this day.” It’s true. One, I am not a summer person. June is unaguably summer, though the calendar says we’re still in spring for nineteen more days. Today is gray and cool and rainy, though, so that is one thing in today’s favor. Pictures may be greatest hits for a while, unless I can master the art of the front facing tablet camera, or you may need to settle for views of what my work area is looking at (aka me) instead of the other way around. We’ll see how that goes. Domestic tornadoes continue to blow through our family, and I am adding another phrase to the ever-expanding lexicon: juggling chainsaws.

That’s what it feels like at times, one disaster or irritation (and some things can be both at the same time) piling up and me wondering how I’m going to get everything done. This weekend brought a few of those, and since my track record of getting through interesting times seems to be one hundred percent so far, I can only assume it’s going to continue, and so the best thing to do is carry on.

Those who know me well know that the only thing better than making a list is prioritizing the list, and the only thing better than prioritzing the list is checking things off the list, and the only thing better than checking things off the list is checking the last thing off the list. So, that’s how I started my day. For some things, the only way to handle them (maybe these would be the chainsaws with the safety gaurd on) is to haul out my favorite Polish proverb: Not my circus, not my monkeys, and carry on. Those are the things I can’t control, or that are somebody else’s job. Not worth my time and energy, because I am needed elsewhere. The things on my list are the things that I can make a difference on, and, thankfully, most of those have to do with writing.

After a stretch of years (longer than I would care to count) when the thing I love most, writing, was the hardest thing in the world to do, it’s good to love writing again, and that’s where I want my time and energy to go. There’s a note torn from a pocket Moleskine on my fallen bulletin boad in my getting-a-lot-more-comfortable office, that says “You’re in the factory. Make the product.” This comes to me from somebody else, through somebody else, rephrased by me, because the original thing had something about making words and “making words” puts me in a mental muscle cramp, so I don’t do that. I tell stories. Yes, because I write books and blog posts, words are involved, but the focus for me isn’t the individual words, but the stories, and the characters who live in them.

In Anne Lamott’s classic Bird by Bird, she talks about using a one inch picture frame to focus on one aspect of a big job at one time. The whole thing doesn’t matter right now, only this one thing. I find that useful, because making order out of chaos is A) something I’ve found I am suprisngly good at doing, and B) it’s fun for me. So, lists. Notebooks. Sticky notes. Even now, my blood pumps a little faster at the thought of taking down the bulletin board that’s been there for months, with the same “I don’t know what I’m doing right now” stuff tacked up on it, because, well, writers should have stuff tacked on their bulletin boards, right?

Eh, maybe. Maybe I need to look at the blank space and the order will present itself. What I do know is that the frame around my time has gone into place. From nine to five, I am at work. Today’s quote comes from Hyvon Ngetich, not a writer, but a runner. Her body gave out during the Austin marathon, with two tenths of a mile yet to go. She was offered a wheelchair by medical personnell, but refused it and crawled, yes, crawled, to the finish line on her own. She came in third. Not too shabby there, madam.

Running and I are not friends (gals who are, um, bountifully endowed, as well as non-athletic people, you know what I mean) but I admire the heck out of this woman for her perseverence. I want that. I need that. I take that. I put it in a one inch picture frame and focus on that to get the job done. Wriitng is a curious combination of fancy and practicality, which I find more curious by the day, and that only makes me want it more.

Today, I get to dip into several worlds in turn. I get to write a review of a book I got to read before it goes on sale, which already feels like a special privilege, and share why it’s awesome. I get to make concrete plans to begin work on my first collaboration in years, with a writer friend I’ve wanted to work with for over a decade. I get to push everything else aside and spend time in Georgian England with a hero and heroine I love like crazycakes, and I get to research romance novels that tap into the legendary romance of Robin Hood and Maid Marian (any favorites, guys and gals?) Not bad for a day’s work, I’d say.

See you later, because office hours have begun.

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