Posted by: jeannineatkins | September 9, 2009

Back to Work

At a barbecue on Monday evening, I was talking with a small group of women when I saw heads turn, so mine turned, too. A six year old boy lay spread but silent on the ground near the porch. Our heads swiveled back to his mom, who said, “He’s fine. That’s just his normal way of getting from one place to another.” And sure enough, when we turned our heads again, the boy was back in fast motion.

Soon our conversations splintered, and my friend Jess asked me, “What’s happening with that book you hoped to finish this summer?”

There was a little pause. Oh these young women with their good memories!

“The good news is that I’d hoped for a rough draft finished. And, okay, it’s not done, but when it is, the draft will be better.”

Now I’m aiming for a really good draft before snow falls. Budget cuts at UMass mean I won’t be teaching this fall, but I’ll teach children’s literature in the spring. Yay for that, but meanwhile I’m dedicating myself to finishing this novel and some other projects. There’s not a lot on my calendar; I just have to remember that can be good. There’s a whole lot of house to clean, of course, but I’m pretty good at resisting that urge. I’ll walk the dogs, I’ll make and pour iced tea, I’ll cook up more of the delicious summer squash and green beans our friend Ed delivered. (My favorite: snip off the bean ends, slice the squash into wedges, put on a pan slicked with olive oil, sprinkle on soy sauce, and roast at 400 for about 15 minutes; then flip everything over for about five more minutes till they brown up).

And tomorrow I’ll have lunch with Jo, Ellen, and Peg; but we are bringing laptops, so some caffeine and joy inspired work will happen, too.



  1. Maybe we can nudge each other to get back to our WIPs. 🙂 And yay for a bit more time to enjoy life, and yay for lunch with Jo, Ellen, and Peg! 🙂

  2. I hear you. My goal remains to have Jane done by next August. I still have no real idea what that means. If I knew for certain how many poems I had left to write, I could divide them out among the months and know that I needed to write X poems/week in order to reach my goal. But the project doesn’t work like that, really, so I just keep on keeping on, hoping that someday I’ll see what the shape of the book looks like for real.

  3. There’s definitely an underlying wouldn’t-it-be-nice to my goals, but I like having the goals, even with their stretchy boundaries.
    Whatever keeps you going — imaginary numbers (x words a day, x words done by x time) or endpoint, that’s what I advocate. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a poet writing x words a day. I don’t think I’d want to.
    Yay for keeping on. Though, of course, we all would like to see Jane!

  4. Okay, Debbi, I’m happy to gently nudge. I’m happy you’re moving forward with your 200 words a day! They do add up (now if you can just choose your project…)

  5. I love that mom, who just knows her son. And you know the rhythm that works for you. Happy laptopping!

  6. Sorry to hear about the budget cuts, but how nice that you’ll have some extra time for your many projects. And I love how you’ve drawn that line in the snow for your deadline! Maybe I’ll follow you with a finished first draft (awful or not) by the time the first daffodil pops out. Let’s keep our tea cups filled and laptops clicking. 🙂
    Have a wonderful lunch tomorrow!

  7. Love how you see the positive. Enjoy the day tomorrow. Have fun and do some writing!

  8. Thanks, Becky. There’s that fall back-to-school energy to work with.

  9. Thanks, Lorraine. Line in snow sounds good, um, because those lines come and go. I do think it’s good to have some kind of deadline, but those ones that can vanish if need be work best for me.
    Now I’m pouring tea and off to get in a solid two hours before lunch!

  10. Even these lunches serve as small goals. I’ve got some pages that need straightening before, and hope to be buoyed by the company for some good writing in the afternoon.
    Good luck with your child-in-kindergarten hours today!

  11. I’m working now with the acorns bouncing on the roof–hard to believe that it’s that time of year. Good luck with your wip (and more time to write!)

  12. It wasn’t my choice to have more writing time this fall, but thankfully it’s working out: ie the writing is happening!
    Put on my first turtleneck of the year. Watch those acorns. One hit my head when I was walking yesterday. Never thought to wear a helmet in the woods… though actually it wasn’t painful. More of a wake-up tap, which I can usually use, especially if it’s one from a tree.

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