First: we’re working behind the scenes on the Barbara O’Neal and Barbara Samuel webpages, which should be up early next week. Lots of new features, better navigation…and of course, contests will be kicking off with the release of How to Bake a Perfect Life, coming December 21. Stay tuned!
Every year, I promise myself that I’m going to stay on track with my writing goals through the holidays. Every year, just about this time, I realize I haven’t written a word in two (or three) weeks and feel that anvil of guilt fall out of the sky to crush me. Every year.
For 22 years of book deadlines.
This year, as the season bore down on us, Christopher Robin suggested I might want to just recognize that I would not have as much time to work, and just call it a draw. That seemed shocking. Sinful, even! Everybody else works and gets things done. Why shouldn’t I be able to do that, too? My mom works 40 hours a week and bakes cookies and decorates her house and shops. Why not me?
So, I soldiered on. November was modestly productive until the end, when Thanksgiving arrived. I hosted the feast at my house this year, my son came home from DC for four days, and my other son popped in and out the whole weekend. We played games (notably Arkadia) and ate and I stayed up late talking, watching Ian teach Gabrielle to fetch. It was wonderful.
But then I tried to climb back into my routines the following morning. After a week of non-stop activity, cleaning, cooking, laughing, talking, I admit I was very tired. There was a sad thing that happened, far away and beyond any of my power to do anything about it, which layered atop my weariness and made Monday not very productive. Then I had to put things away. And this weekend there is a party we are hosting. Next week is the countdown to a huge spiritual retreat I’m helping to lead, and the next week, my friend and I are going to Chimayo for a couple of days to put together our vision boards for the year.
Then, well, it’s almost Christmas.
The truth is, I have not written many pages in almost any December since I began this career. Other people physically leave the house or have to clock in with their computer–I don’t. Which means I like having the freedom to do a lot of baking, to get out to the gym and the shops when everyone else is working, to have the luxury of rearranging my life around the holidays I adore so that I can devote a lot of my attention to them, and try to make memories of peace and laughter and happiness for others around me.
Somehow, I make my deadlines, year after year.
So, I am off work until early January. My collage is on the desk, nearly complete. I have some lists of plot points I want to work on,
some more backstory character events to dig up. I can also do something my friend Christie does: write one sentence a day, just to keep my head in the book, so that the girls in the basement can keep working, building. In January, I’ll get back to writing pages every day, as I have done every year for the past 22 years.
Gosh, that anvil was so heavy! And I was dropping it on my own head! Silly me.
Does anyone else set up impossible expectations? What can you do to lighten your load this season?