Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

On the first of each month, Catching Days hosts a guest writer in the series, “How We Spend Our Days.”

Today, please welcome writer




Like usual, I wake up thinking, I should be working on “Beulah.” Beulah is my second novel that I’m really excited about. But when the opportunity came up to adapt The Truth About Horses to a screenplay, I thought I’d take a stab at a first draft.  I mean, what am I doing? Don’t I have enough going on right now? Did I really have to take that on too? Aside from the promotional opportunities for TTAH, there just seems to be so much stuff, and that stuff just keeps piling up. I mean, it’s not particularly bad stuff. A lot of it is really great. Fun even. But I’m so far from being that writer I picture in my head tucked away in a cabin in the woods, it’s laughable.

Since I wake up with my head already spinning, I try a few exercises to pull me into a creative mindset. “When you feel like you’re working on something important, create a sacred space.” I can’t remember where I heard or read that, but I like it. Trying really hard not to look at my phone, I step over the dogs—all three of them—to my candle on a table with my Mom’s high school portrait and a few family photographs. Lighting a candle is how I start. I do this religiously because it’s what I did when I took the biggest leap of all—the one to convince myself to write in the first place.

I probably get a little too hung up on rituals before writing, but at this point, I can’t help it. The flame is hypnotic as it bounces to life, and the scent of the day fills the room. Tobacco Rosemary is my recent favorite.  Since I think about coffee going to bed at night, I head straight to my fancy dancy coffee maker that sits on a counter just outside my bedroom. It shudders when I turn it on and goes through a few cycles like I have all the time in the world. After I empty the drip tray and tell it not to clean itself, I select the little two cup icon, and a stream of steaming black coffee fills my cup about three-quarters full. I make my way to my chair. There’s a green leather journal I use to write down things I’m grateful for. Why is this so hard? I should be able to fill page after page. This exercise is supposed to jumpstart my morning of writing. But today I write, “coffee and my dogs.”

A few books sit to the left of my chair that’s positioned next to a window facing the street. Reading excerpts from each of them helps to put me in the right frame of mind. Now that I am, I open my laptop and check the calendar on my phone and realize I have a zoom interview for a video podcast in fifteen minutes. I wish I could say this was not the norm, but I think this has happened at least four times this month.

I hurry to get dressed. I make sure my top half is presentable and make the zoom connection with surprisingly no technical difficulties. It’s a fun interview. I enjoy it, but the whole time I’m just thinking of how I should be working on the adaptation so I can get back to working on Beulah.

My sons are grown and out of the house for the most part. But my three dogs, Ben, Lucy and Dan are right here while I work waiting for their walk. Ben is a five-year-old ninety-pound chocolate lab, and Dan and Lucy are eleven-year-old Jack Russel Terriers—litter mates. All morning, they’ve been looking at me with those eyes that instantly make me ache with guilt. I can feel their pathetic stares even though, by this time, they should know they don’t get their long walk until afternoon. That doesn’t stop them from jumping up all excited and chasing each other around the couch when I get up to make a second cup of coffee.

Back at my writing spot, the Jacks leap up to sit with me, and the lab does his big, fooled-us-again groan, and lies down. They are distractions for sure, especially when Dan does his cute let’s play crouch trying to tempt me to chase him. It’s impossible not to. At eleven, sometimes he still looks and acts like a puppy, and even though it pulls me out of the work that I’m doing, I just can’t help it. So, I get down on my hands and knees and do a few rounds of hide and seek. Lucy and Ben get involved, and pretty soon everyone’s barking and whipping around the room and jumping all over the furniture.

I make it back to my chair and open my laptop. My phone is on silence, but I can hear it buzzing in the other room. It goes quiet for a few seconds and buzzes again. When I find it under my pajamas I’d thrown off, I answer. It’s the plumber. Apparently, they had us scheduled between ten a.m. and two p.m. to switch the heat over in the house to A.C.

They’re nice about the fact that I kept them waiting, and the dogs and I follow them around while they do what they’ve come to do. We say goodbye, and I head up to stare at my blank screen again. Even with rituals checked off the list, it’s a struggle. I get through a few pages, and my stomach starts to rumble. Eating isn’t a priority in the morning, but now it’s after lunchtime.

I’m not a great cook, but I found that while I was working on my first novel, cooking gave me the instant sense of accomplishment I wasn’t getting from writing. I heat up some leftover chicken and sweet potatoes and scroll through recipes for dinner ideas. I’m fairly positive my newfound interest in cooking has to do with avoiding work. Especially since recipes are constantly popping up on my screen if I don’t turn off notifications. Returning to my chair, I find a slew of emails and texts. This, ladies and gentlemen is where it all goes wrong. I know it, but I just keep doing it. I answer texts. I respond to emails. And then, it’s time to walk the dogs.

While Ben, the lab, finds a stick to carry around like a prized possession and Dan and Lucy chase squirrels, I remember something I read in Stephen King’s book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. He wrote about the importance of a room with no distractions. At the time, I’d taken it to heart and cleared out a closet upstairs in our house and ended up writing a large portion of my last novel there. I haven’t used it in months. Between the three dogs and my writing chair, we barely fit, but I think if I’m going to ever get back to Beulah, I need to pay that room a visit.




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1. What one word best describes your writing life?

  • The one word that best describes my writing life is tenacity. For anyone to put themselves out there creatively, it takes a lot of tenacity.

2. Is there a book you’ve read over and over again?

  • There’s not really a book I’ve read over and over again, but the one I’d like to read over is Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

3. What is your strangest obsession or habit?

  • My strangest habit is following all the health fads. Whether it’s the cold plunge, red light therapy, olive oil and lemon cleanses, I jump in and try it all.






Other Writers in the Series