11 Days -- Mindless Meandering

I'm sifting today, that's all I can give as an excuse. I must be sifting all that white heat writing of the last two days. Making connections here and there, subconsciously. Who knows. I do know that nothing I did today helped me move my story forward, if you count moving forward in words, which I do right now.

I took myself out to work today. Stoney and Jim Williams were doing their bathroom renovating thing, and I told myself I needed to be elsewhere. So I drove to Panera and settled myself in my favorite spot there. I was soon surrounded by five mothers and their toddlers. There was very loud talk about recessive genes, lotteries for special schools, training pants, milk allergies, husbands, and lots of "come back here!"

A sippy cup sailed too close for comfort.

So I moved to the back of the room, to the crummy tables and the bathrooms. Then I had to go to the bathroom, but so did each kid at the aforementioned tables, one at a time, with each mother. There was lots of flushing and hand washing. I waited. When they all left the restaurant, fifteen hours later, I went to the bathroom and then reclaimed my primo table.

Then the music was too loud. I ordered a salad -- I'd at least eat, and then find a quieter place -- and I inquired after the music. The gracious manager turned it down two notches. So I ate my salad, and stared at my story. But I couldn't concentrate. I just couldn't concentrate.

It was 18 degrees in Atlanta this morning. My steering wheel was so frozen, it hurt my hands to hold on to it. (Of course I don't have gloves; I live in Hotlanta.) By the time I left Panera, we had us a little heat wave going on. It was 34 degrees. And, inside my car, with the bright sun spilling everywhere, it was almost toasty.

This heartened me. So I drove to my local coffee shop, Mighty Joe's. I walked through the door, hailed my friends, and ordered a decaf. Then I looked around and saw that there was not one unoccupied table. Not one. I looked at my watch. Lunchtime. My construction friends would be gone for lunch. So I took myself back home, only to find Stoney and Jim Williams eating bag lunches at the table next to my writing place by the fire. Bless their hearts.

I smiled a wan smile and took myself back out again. I went to the library. There was not one parking place available. Not one. And this is a tiny library with a huge parking lot.

So I drove around aimlessly. I actually did this. I aimlessly drove around Tucker, Georgia. I said it out loud: I am driving around aimlessly!

Do you ever have days like this? What do you do about them?

I went to a 12-step meeting.

Now I am home, my workers are gone for the day, Jim has made a friendly fire in the fireplace, and I am sitting in my pink chair. I am going to work. Here I go. Yep, here I go. Here. I. Go. Go. Go...


  1. I wish I could offer you a place in my media center, but it is anything but quiet most days - that is life of an elementary school library.

    Hope you find some quiet tomorrow and I hope it gets WARMER - I have been frozen for DAYS - I keep wondering how I lived in Massachusetts for the first 22 years of my life!

  2. I wrote my first novel at Starbucks, mostly, and felt like a malingering impostor (the worst kind, don't you think?) the entire time. Except when the story took me in and soothed me and thrilled me and kept me going. Sometimes I believe that I write because that's the only place that's safe for me in the world. Inside the story. But only when the story is going well.

    I've lurked around (skulking, really) writers enough to know that we all have some of that going on. You have those wonderful books of yours to point to when you have a day like that. And your teaching which, as we say even if it's been oversaid, makes a difference. Big difference. But you should also draw this about you, like a warm shawl on a cold day in Hotlanta: your generosity in sharing you insecurities and frustrations and meandering days as part of your process is a generosity that lifts us all up.
    So thanks.

    So happy Hanna shook hands with the President! I hope "my" field organizer got to see him, too.


  3. Thanks, y'all. You know, Ann, I think I share my process as a way to keep me going and make me keep showing up. It's mostly selfish, perhaps. It's so much easier to let one more day go by that I don't write -- there are plenty of reasons not to, so much else is swirling. But making the commitment and putting it out there to others... well, I'd better deliver! Something like that.

    I think we all life one another up.

    Hope your organizer got her wish. Mine arrives home today.

    Kathy -- I will see you in March!


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