In November, 2003, a book I had been working on for three years was published. My routine while working on this book was set. In the morning, after breakfast, I sat down to my computer and spent one hour – no more, usually no less, answering emails. The rest of the day, I worked on my book. Late in the evening, after dinner, I checked my email again, and spent one hour, clearing out my inbox. The system worked.
Let me be clear. I am not someone who works fulltime outside the home. I am retired, and I work on whatever I am doing through my personal schedule and from home.
In 2008, I went through a life change that threw me into a “who am I” crisis. I was still retired, although trying to find a job, and I was still doing whatever I had to do from home, through my personal schedule. But the book I was writing fell to the wayside as I pursued a volunteer role in community activism. Along with that book fell other projects; a YA biography; a cookbook for young people; a short story. They’re all there, lurking in that “IN PROGRESS” folder on the upper right hand side of my computer screen. They stare at me daily, if I give them the chance.
But normally, I don’t dare give them the chance. To do so makes me feel guilty, a loser, a squanderer. I spent two and a half years and a lot of money having one of the most exciting experiences I ever had… pursuing an MFA from Vermont College in “Writing for Children.” That time was clearly the best gift I ever gave to my creative self. I was driven. I loved it. I worked like a dog completing those damnable packets, and I have kept every single one of them in a computer file.
I graduated in July 2009 with my thesis, a novel I love. Michèle, a mixed race girl in New Orleans in the 19th century, wants to be something more than her mother was… the mistress of a wealthy, white Frenchman.
But I digress. Once upon a time I spent hours and hours and hours on this story I love. And yet, it sits. Unattended, unfinished.
Why? I blame it on my weakness vis-a-vis the Email Monster. That book I wrote in the early 2000’s? Email in the morning; email in the evening. Book during the day.
Now, being the president of the oldest advocacy group in the state of Louisiana, I check my computer as soon as I awake. And there are emails. And I respond. And I respond. And I send. And I respond. And it is never ending. And it is killing my novel.
So here, now, on January 7, 2013, I resolve to set aside email time in the morning and in the evening, and finish that novel. Michèle deserves it.
Wish me luck.