Tuesday, January 09, 2007


So, the day after I post about the 12:30 rule, what happens? I get up relatively early (for me) and finish all my e-mail and reading before 12:30. Blogger appears to be down, so that did cut out some of my industry reading for the morning. On the up side, it makes me feel very efficient to be ahead of schedule.

I think my book 5 proposal is just about done. Mom's got the chapters now (but I think it's Meals on Wheels day, so I may not hear from her until later), and there are a few tweaks I want to make to the synopsis, but I should be able to send it off tomorrow. I decided to do that instead of waiting until I'd written a few more chapters because I'm pretty sure that my agent will make me revise at least something, and I can have a few more chapters written before that, so it will all have about the same effect while also potentially saving time. I also want to have as much of this book written as possible before I revise book 4. I had written the whole first draft of book 4 before I got my editor's notes on book 3, and it really helped me have a clearer picture of all the character and emotional arcs. It's supposed to be cold and rainy, with possibly even an ice storm, this weekend, so I should get a lot of work done. I don't know why I'm more creative and productive when wet stuff is falling from the sky, but I am.

Speaking of work, I had the almost frightening realization yesterday that I might possibly be a workaholic. I used to mock the people I worked with who were certified workaholics, the people who competed to be the first ones in the office or the last ones to leave and who took their laptops home with them when they did leave so they could do even more work. I was the one avoiding getting a laptop (until I started telecommuting) because I didn't want to be readily available after hours, hitting the door as soon after the end of the workday as I thought I could get away with it and who chose to take a cut in hours instead of a raise. My life was definitely not my job.

Except ...

I was usually rushing home (or staying home) to write. I was probably as much of a workaholic as those other people were. I just wasn't a workaholic about my day job. Now I may be even worse. There was a movie I wanted to watch on HBO yesterday afternoon (okay, it was Nanny McPhee, but it has Colin Firth and Emma Thompson in it, and Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay, so hello!), but I guess I couldn't imagine "wasting" that much time, so for an hour and a half movie, I'd gathered up the day's newspaper (and crossword puzzles), my brainstorming notebook for book 5, and all the organizational stuff to put away my Christmas decorations. I felt so guilty for not spending that time writing, even though I knew I was going to write at night, that I felt like I had to spend that time doing as much other work as possible. I guess that was my "hitting bottom" moment.

But I don't feel like I'm a hypocrite, and I don't think I'm in serious workaholic danger. For one thing, since I work for myself, I know that I receive a direct benefit from the work I do. There's a lot I can't control in this business, but I can control the amount and quality of writing I do. If I write more, I stand to sell more, and if I write better, people are more likely to buy my books and tell others about them. If I don't write, I don't make money. All those workaholics I used to work with didn't achieve such a direct benefit. They may have been on the fast track to promotion, but when it came to layoffs, the workaholics were right there with us slackers on the chopping block. In fact, I outlasted several workaholics before I got cut, myself. The company was the beneficiary of all those extra hours and the employees didn't really get anything out of it. I may be enriching Random House a bit by all my tireless promotional work and my attempts to write more and better, but really, it's just a drop in the bucket for them, while it makes a big difference to me.

Also, even with the way I've been working lately, I'm still not putting in quite as many hours as a regular full-time job. I don't have commuting time. I do allow myself a fair amount of goofing-off time during the day. My main problem is not allowing myself large chunks of non-productive, non-work time, but then, I've never been good at just sitting and watching TV. I have to be doing something else at the same time. Once the crosswords are done, it might as well be work. In fact, there are a few projects where I consider the TV to be the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. Those medical radio scripts are so much more fun when I write them during commercial breaks while watching TV (I like to do them along with House because I enjoy the juxtaposition).

So, my prescription for myself is to take some reading time this weekend while the wet stuff is falling from the sky. I have the new Dick Francis book, and that's perfect rainy/snowy day reading.

Now I'm going to beat all the people who rush to the grocery store before an ice storm because they won't do it until Friday when it's already raining but not yet freezing and I'm doing it today while it's reasonably warm and sunny. I also need milk, and that can't wait until Friday.

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