Potty Training

Shit or get off the pot.

I’m pretty sure I was all of three the first time I heard these timeless words fly off the tongue of my mother’s friend Shirley. She’s always had a way with words. Now that she’s retired, you’re more likely to hear Shirl-ol-girl holler “The door is not an asshole, it doesn’t close by itself” after one of the army of children running wild through her house.

But shit or get off the pot I must.

If you’ve known me for any length of time then you know that I am not the best manager of time. In fact, there are some of you who have learned to knock fifteen minutes off the real time an event starts if you want me to arrive on time. My sweetheart has learned that brow beating me has an almost negligible effect and that he’s better off just going and sitting in the car, because I will show up, eventually.  He is fond of saying, when I start to twitch in the seat next to him when he takes off at the pace of a snail on ludes, “You cannot invent time dear. We will get there when we get there.” He has great distaste for rushing and refuses to do so. Has that changed my ability to get in the car with enough time to get where we need to be? Not at all.

To add insult to injury, I’m also a virtual award winning procrastinator.  If there is something else that can be done when I should be writing, I’ll do it. And let’s face it, there are a lot of things I can do instead of writing. In fact, as I whined about my inability to make time for writing, my sweetheart pointed out for the umpteenth time today that I have an embarrassment of choices.

He said, “Imagine a huge parking lot and put all the people of the world in it. I’m willing to bet every single one of them would kill to be in your position.”

And he’s right, Goddamn it, he’s right.

Every day upon rising I have a multitude of choices of what I will do that day. Every single day, almost without exception. I get to decide if I’ll go surfing, do yoga, sit and sip tea while I pet the dogs, meditate, walk the dogs on the beach, go kitesurfing, sweep the floors, go visit friends, go to town (that one’s almost never the choice), lay in the sun and read, sit on the couch and read, watch a movie, work in the garden, bake or plan a nice dinner, partake of Facebook or email a friend. And it kind of makes my head hurt when I realize there are other choices beyond those that I don’t usually even think of.

Don’t get me wrong, I do have responsibilities, things I must do, but in the grand scheme of things they pale in the face of the nine-to-five-plus-kids life that most people live. And I never have to do anything. The most pressing thing on my plate right now is to call the fumigator because we have a termite infestation in the kitchen cupboard that is getting out of hand. But honestly, it’s been getting out of hand for months. I’ve been able to ignore it until now. So ya, time, I got more time than a Swiss watch maker.

Given all these choices, I’m having a little trouble getting after it as far as writing my book goes or publishing on this blog for that matter. I just realized that “work on my book” did not even make the list of choices I penned above. That was unintentional and probably not the greatest indication of how high on my list of priorities writing usually is. Well, that’s going to change.

I here do declare and solemnly swear that I have committed to doing two things in order to make writing a higher priority in my life.

1)    Andrea Maurer’s 90-Day Power Play
Andrea is an aspiring life coach and a talented writer among other things. She recently took the bull by the horns in her own pursuit of self-fulfillment and is offering a 90-day coaching program to give 10 people the skills to realize their goals. Due to factors outside my control, I am not one of the official “10,” however I am reading along as time permits and doing the exercises she recommends (for the most part).

Recognizing that everyone, even ridiculously lucky people with tons of time and choices, has trouble with time management, Andrea has recommended that we keep a time journal.  That we record minute by minute how we spend (or waste away) our valuable time. I started mine mid-day yesterday and it’s already ringing some bells for me. The detailed results following a full week of journaling will be reported in an upcoming blog. I may even turn it into an excel file and run some statistics on it (except that might take too much of my oh so valuable TIME).

2)    ECL 134 W
In a fit of “I’ve-got-to-do-something-to-get-off-my-ass-and-start-writing-regularly” that occurred some time in February, I signed up for Creative Non-Fiction: A Plan for Success, a Stanford University online course that starts this coming Monday. The great thing about this course? I will be working on my WIP as part of the course work. And it says right in the course description, “this course is designed to…establish writing habits that will sustain us to completion.” You’re singing my tune baby!

I’m committed. Well, almost 100% (the drop deadline for the course is April 7) and the next 10 weeks are gonna see a lot more writing action from this aspiring author. 

I think a few questions I have are going to be answered during this period. Can I do it and still have it all? (By “all” I mean write AND do yoga, surf, kite surf somewhat regularly, keep the house respectably clean, the dogs walked and fed, myself bathed and fed something other than microwavable popcorn.) Can I maintain balance, contentment and my sanity in the face of the demands of being a writer? Am I committed enough to being a writer to make the necessary choices?

Time will tell.