Zap Frying my Pop Tarts

So, I’m sitting at the kitchen table yesterday evening, rubbing my temples and trying to remember everything I have to do this coming week:

Working late Monday and missing Janie’s softball practice—again; finishing up a review/give-away for Tuesday; helping Janie figure out how to work her new super-ultra private blog because she must have one and it could help her typing skills and spelling, you never know; buying flour and sugar because I didn’t see them on the grocery list that I’d written myself; find a graduation card for my nephew that should be mailed Tuesday; calling Janie’s piano teacher because she has a softball game on Thursday, which I’m going to miss—again*; checking my desk hours Wednesday to see if I can meet my husband—who is working late—to lunch for his birthday, for which I still need to buy cards; figuring out what to do for our anniversary this weekend; beta-ing the last few chapters of a friend’s manuscript; working on Sunny’s alphabet recognition, because she’s missing a couple of letters in there somewhere; scribbling down my chapter for the round robin project; trying to finish a gift for my Dad that will let him know how wonderful it is that he’s been around for 80 years so it can be mailed by early next week, along with the anniversary gift I did find that will let my parents know how happy I am that they found each other 49-plus years ago;**  and obsessing about where to plant a necessary clue in Pigeon without rewriting the whole bloody thing . . .

And working on Saturday. Maybe.  I’d lost track.  Averaging 4 to 6 hours of sleep for a week and a half can do that, even if I’ve been mainlining caffeine and chocolate for most of that time.

“You okay?”  asked my SIL, over the gourmet meal of boiled pasta, bottled sauce, and slightly browned peas I’d managed to toss together, hoping the ice cream I’d bought—because it wasn’t on the list—might make up for it.

“Yeah,” I said.  “I’m just a little tired.”

She gave me one of her Looks.  “You need to stop zap frying your Pop-Tarts.”

I opened my mouth, then shut it.

Point taken.

The point was actually taken from Brian Regan, a comedian we watched a couple evenings prior—in my case, over my laptop, as I sent a couple of e-mail replies I’d been meaning to write, or had written and hadn’t noticed were still sitting in my draft folder.  He was talking about how confused one had to be to need the directions on a box of Pop Tarts and how weird it was that there were microwave directions as well:

“Listen, if you need to zap fry your Pop Tarts before you head out the door, you might want to loosen up your schedule . . . If you’re wakin’, eatin’, and haulin’ in three seconds, you’re bookin’ yourself too tight. “***

Man makes sense.

So . . . I wrote one of Josey Fritz’s lists, of things I needed to do.  And another one, of things I wanted to do.

And I took a nap after dinner until the kids’ bedtime.  And had a bowl of ice cream and finished the story I’d promised to beta.

This morning, I dropped Janie off at school and took a walk along the river, with my headphones playing “Walking in Memphis” and Ella Fitzgerald singing “Tain’t Nobody’s Business if I Do.”

During my walk, I figured out where to plant that clue and why another scene wasn’t working.   I jotted it all down in the car and went to work—I might have sung along with Marc Cohn as I drove, and also with Alannah Myles.^  Loudly.  Possibly with gestures.

When I indexed the newspaper, I noticed my horoscope:^^

Self care doesn’t have to be expensive or extravagant.  Simply taking a walk, reading what you like, or talking  to your favorite friend could lift your spirits more effectively than anything you could buy.

I’d already done two out of three, so, on my break, I wrote this and dropped a note to the co-ordinator of my round robin group.

Lunch with my husband can’t happen Wednesday, but I was offered an extra half-hour on Thursday, if I want.

I want.

On my dinner hour, I worked on Dad’s gift and received notice that I could have a month’s extension on my round-robin chapter, since the next person in line is going to be gone in June.

Tonight, I’ll be coming home, putting kids to bed, grabbing a snack, and getting to work—until ten-thirty at the latest.

No more zap-frying.  At least not this week.

So . . . How are YOUR Pop Tarts doing?

___________________

*I did see her play Saturday, for once.  Her team won 6-0!

** Because if they hadn’t . . . I’d be a lot less stressed about things?

***The golden moment is around 2:50:

^ Only one of whom sings entirely in my range.  And before you ask, I was in a blues mood, not an Elvis mood.

^^I don’t believe in them, exactly, but I do notice them.

Feeling like a dodo . . .

Do I have the time?

I’m scribbling everywhere I go and typing into the night, slapping  promise patches over plotholes:  Plant this in chapter three.  Did you use this already?  Check airline regs.  Go back and break her mirror.

I’ve written more in the last two weeks than I have in the previous two months.

It seems to be working—the words are there, thrumming in the background when I drive or work or blog.*

But I have four days to get to the end.**   And that’s not ninety-six hours of solid writing time—it’s  more like twenty-two.

This whole experiment could be another dreaded learning experience:  self-imposed deadlines are not to be shared.

But even if I have to come back Saturday and say, hey, not quite, I’ll be a lot closer to finished than I was.

Right?

Right.

But I don’t want to.

Butt in chair.  Rear in gear.

Onward.

___

*Blogging doesn’t seem to slow me down—it takes time, but I have to come up for air once in a while.  It’s a nice breather and sometimes working on something completely different knocks something loose in my WIP.  ‘Sides, I’d miss you guys.

**Though I wrote most of the end during the baseball game Sunday.  Got a fantastic sunburn, too —  I sunscreened everyone else, and then Sunny fell down and I forgot that I work inside all day and will sizzle in the sun, brunette or no.  Janie needed my hat, so the top of my head is tender and my nose resembles a strawberry.  Thank heavens for aloe in a pump bottle.

_____

Wondermark is a product of the genius that is David Malki !

Time after Time after Timelines . . .

Someone somewhen said that time is nature’s way of making sure everything doesn’t happen at once.

Someone else said that children are nature’s way of making sure everything does.*

So, apparently, is writing a book.

I’m not just talking about deadlines—though when I set mine, I’d forgotten that this is the week Janie and I signed up for an evening family activity “camp” and half my day off this Friday will be dedicated to various dental and medical appointments that have been put off for far too long already.

I’m talking about actual timelines. 

The other evening, I realized that I have five chapters and three scenes happening in the same four or five hour period.  Granted, there are nine characters heading with purpose in four different directions** and two of them got up pretty early, but that’s still lot of stuff going on one morning before they all come together again to discover what’s happened in everyone’s mutual absence, with the exception of the one it happened to, and the two who made it happen.

After that, there are three conversations, one long distance phone call, one emergency plane ride, a dangerous conversation, another phone call, a guilt trip, and possibly a little wink-wink-nudge-nudge, though I’ll have to check my Writer’s Guide to Grievous Bodily Harm first, to make sure it’s physically possible.***  All before midnight.

I think I forgot lunch in there, but two of ‘em had brunch, so . . . never mind.

The plane ride, the second phone call, and the guilt trip have to line up.  The rest has to be in order, but no one is really looking at their watches.  Especially, it may be noted, me.

So I decided to take the time this morning to make up a chart in Excel that plotted everyone’s movements that day, using colors.  Lots of colors.  It looks like a solid OCD rainbow designed by a Tetris champion.  And it seems out that everything can happen, exactly as written. Each scene hangs logically on its predecessor(s). 

Chronologically, it all works.

But I’m afraid it might be a tad exhausting to read.  Those nine characters might not have had such a tiring day^ individually—fraught, perhaps—but their collective experiences are being launched at the reader’s imagination at a furious pace.

While I’m hoping to write something that will compel people to turn pages, I don’t want those pages turning backward because readers can’t absorb all the events.

So it occurred to me that if I shift the dangerous conversation and the second phone call to the next morning, the guilt trip can be divided into two parts—guilt is as regenerating and adhesive as starfish—and I can still slip in some uncertain pre-nudging without tearing open any (physical) wounds.  

The pacing will be better, I think, and the characters will be well-positioned for the next rodeo.  Plus everyone will have time to pack.

And then maybe we can all get some rest. ^^ 

____

*Especially when you’re on the phone.

**Okay, one’s sitting still, which isn’t perhaps the best idea, but he doesn’t know that . . . or does he?

***I wish—that baby would save bookshelf space and keep me off the blasted Internet. Who wants to volunteer to write it?

^Though when the adrenaline wears off, the crash will be impressive.  This is what is called an autobiographical element . . .  

^^This is what is called wishful thinking.

My First Third-Grader

Janie, the day before yesterday

My First Baby is officially a third-grader now.

My husband and I spent the morning watching the K-5 classes file across the stage.  They all looked impossibly young, except for Janie, who looked impossibly grown-up to me, at eight years old.

Janie, this morning
 

The days are long, but the years zip by . . .

Tempus Fuggit

I declare today Tuesday, since I skipped it in favor of Wednesday yesterday.*

My excuse is that this week is Jane’s Spring Break and I took today off to spend it with her (and give my husband a breather).  I’d planned on taking Thursday off, but Wednesday fit the schedule better, so I switched.  But I’d had Thursday in my head for so long, I figured the day before I was off must by Wednesday. 

But I did remember I was off today—and realized just how off this morning. 

But in about twenty minutes, Jane and I are going shoe shopping, followed by mall browsing, lunch, and more mall browsing.  And then we’re having real manicures, which I’m told are not done by Mommy at the kitchen table—an assertion I cannot deny.   Jane begged for a pedi, too, which should be interesting, as the moment I hung up from making the appointment, she said,  “Um . . . Mom? Will they be touching my feet?”

This should be good.

Have a great Tuesday, y’all.

____

*This is where my Australian friends give up.  Join the club!