Making the Most of Nature’s Gift of Time
It’s the dream of every writer with the day job of teaching: a snow day, a precious gift given too rarely during the school year that allows us to shut out the seemingly endless demands of the real world and dedicate our entire focus to our craft. It’s a day to revive our senses, renew our inspiration and fully immerse ourselves in our narrative, thanks to this offering Mother Nature has so generously provided us.
Unfortunately, like most people who can enjoy the benefit of cancelled plans and a day home in pajamas, I usually find myself lamenting at the end of the day that I hadn’t accomplished nearly as much as I’d set out to. So today, the first snow day of the school year, I’ve decided to investigate why that is by chronicling each event of this blissful, unscheduled writing day to figure out why I’m not more prolific when all I have is time.
5:30 am: Answer robo-call that school is closed. (Should jump out of bed right now, make coffee and get right down to writing!)
8:30 am: Wake up after falling back to sleep plotting out the opening scene in head
9:00 am: Sit down at computer. Forgot what I plotted out in head before falling back to sleep—something about two women separated in a snow storm.
9:30 am: Staring out window at cascading snowflakes imagining giving Best Screenplay Oscar acceptance speech after novel is made into movie
10:15 am: Writer’s block. Wander around house; realize how infrequently I dust
10:30 am: Wake up cat with kisses
10:31 am: Apply Neosporin to scratches on face after waking up cat with kisses
10:45 am: Back to writing
10:46 am: Check Facebook to make sure I’m not missing anyone’s birthday
10:47 am: Follow link in newsfeed about 37 Actors Rumored to be Gay; internet too slow; abort article
11: 15 am: Finish scrolling newsfeed. Log off
11:16 am: Try to write opening scene again. Remember I logged off Facebook before wishing friends happy birthday. Log on again. Wait to see if they “like” birthday posts.
11:30 am: Back to opening scene. Boy, that snow’s really coming down. That’s way more than the 1″-3” they predicted last night. These damn weather people. You can never believe a word they say.
11:45 am: Coffee gone. Need to make another cup. Let me throw in a load of laundry as long as I’m up.
12:00 pm: Back to opening scene. (“It was a cold and snowy afternoon. Eliza couldn’t bear the thought of Clara all alone on that lonely, dangerous cattle ranch.”) Awesome. I’m well on my way.
12:15 pm: Lunchtime. Didn’t make a milk and bread run yesterday. The forecast was only for 1″-3” of snow.
12:30 pm: Still foraging the kitchen for something to spread peanut butter on. I should go grocery shopping more often.
1:00 pm: Baking muffins I found in cabinet. Expiration dates are just suggestions.
1:30 pm: Taking mental break from writing. Surf channels till I find Forensic Files. Fall asleep right after woman’s body is discovered by hiker in shallow ravine.
3:00 pm: Refreshed from nap. Back to my opening scene. (Why is Clara all alone on that cattle ranch? Why is it dangerous? How did Eliza meet Clara? Are they romantically involved yet or does Eliza adore her from afar?)
3:15 pm: Quick check of Facebook while deciding why Clara’s cattle ranch is dangerous. Scroll faster to avoid #Friendsday videos. Oh, a cat video!
3:45 pm: Shit. Forgot laundry in machine.
4:15 pm: Back to opening scene. Why the hell did I set this story on a mid-western cattle ranch in the late 1800s? I’ve never even been to the mid-west. Or a cattle ranch. Or the 1800s.
4:30 pm: “It was a cold and snowy afternoon. Liz couldn’t bear the thought of Claire all alone at that lonely, dangerous wine bar. How she’d wished she’d put snow tires on her car earlier in the season.”
5:00 pm: Done for the day! 36 words. Not bad. Could’ve been more. Hey, writing is an art, a delicate process that can’t be forced. It’s only 36 words, but they’re 36 quality words. Save Word file. Do mock end-zone victory dance. Celebrate by opening bottle of wine.
Jean Copeland is the author of The Revelation of Beatrice Darby, and The Second Wave, coming Oct. 17, 2016 from Bold Strokes Books.