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




I was an adult in the middle of my career before I ever wrote a story. I read books (popular fiction, romance), but I wasn’t as well read as I am now. Today, I read and write what has been categorized primarily as literary fiction. Therefore, I didn’t develop a reading or writing habit. I didn’t write just for the fun of it. For example, the first piece of fiction I wrote was the thirty pages I submitted for admissions to the Masters of Fine Arts program at Arizona State University. From my first class until now, mostly everything I’ve written has been goal oriented either for class or publication, which fits my personality. For example, I only go shopping when I need an outfit for an event. I don’t run unless I’m training for a race like for my first marathon. Overall, I’m a goal-oriented, results-driven person. Being wired that way created in me a love/hate relationship with writing, which is probably one of the reasons it takes me years to finish a novel. I start and stop a lot because there isn’t a concrete result. There are too many variables that all writers are familiar with, mainly, will anyone want to publish it, and if so, will anyone want to read it. What does this have to do with a day in the life of a writer? Everything!

My goal is to finish my novel this summer and submit it to an agent. I’m committed, which causes paralysis. But at six a.m. I roll off my mattress onto hardwood floors and drag my aching body to the bathroom for a cold shower. I come to the page on Mondays at seven a.m. Central Standard Time for my standing appointment on Zoom with my writing partner. We’re consistent, reliable, dependable, and have respect for the other’s time. If for any reason (tornado, hurricane, computer crash) we need to cancel, we inform the other in advance. I make coffee and prepare to start writing. I keep healthy snacks at my desk. Snacking on them quiets my mind, but some days only Lays Salt and Vinegar potato chips will do.

My challenge is starting, ass in seat, mind settled, and fingers moving across keys on the computer. This doesn’t seem like it should be that difficult, but there are two oceans between me sitting at my desk and writing my first few sentences. I can spend hours convincing myself to start. I could be washing those dirty dishes, reading students homework, or binge watching a show on TV. I decided to remodel my home, which is a 24/7 job. I’m using one green chair for everything, including when I write. I seriously need to buy furniture, but it’s overwhelming. Did you know that an interior decorator charges 20% of the cost of the furniture you purchase? And my nephew who swears he’s a decorator, has only shown me a bed and sofa online that is way too expensive. But on Monday mornings I’ve promised someone in a different time zone that I’m going to sit for a couple of hours and (not research or revise) work on my novel, and for some reason that’s exactly what I do.

There is everything to be said for accountability. Our sessions remind me of when I realized all the clothes in my closet didn’t fit, and I wasn’t going to buy anything new. I decided to hire a trainer, set a goal, and train three days per week. After a year, I met my goal and I’ve kept the weight down for over two years. Many friends asked why I needed a trainer, why can’t I do it on my own. Maybe I’m wired differently. Also, I spent years in a nine-to-five job where goals were set, and I had to meet them or be fired. Maybe I haven’t learned to work independently or I was born this way, but if I have a dependable accountability partner, I’m more likely to put words on the page. Life would be a lot easier, less expensive, and I could accomplish more if I was accountable to myself. It takes a long time to reprogram your mind. Yes, I’ve been working on it in therapy. Don’t judge. I’m a work in progress.

It’s not easy for me to stay at my desk. Like the Nike slogan I “just do it.” I don’t answer my phone, check emails, or sign onto social media. Those are writing death traps. I block anything that comes to mind on my long to-do list. In meditation, I ask for permission to have this time to focus on my project and promise to get to the list afterward. I’m a method writer, so when I do settle down, I love it, and for hours, I become one with the process.

After our zoom meeting ends, I continue working until I exhaust everything or I’m exhausted, and then I get ready for a meeting, whether it’s about the literary festival, a lunch date or running errands. When I return home, I talk to my local writing partner about our families, writing, academics, and the state of publishing. Then I piddle. I love piddling. After dinner, if it’s during the season, I watch Monday night football. Last season was so good I bought a seventy-inch TV (too big) so I could see every detail of every play. I joined a football pool and won an unprecedented two times. While watching sports, I pick up whatever book is within reach and start reading until I eventually go upstairs around one a.m. to shower and go to bed. Before falling asleep, I read what I wrote that morning and make a few notes about what I plan to write the following day.

Mondays are productive. I feel good about whatever I write. Then there’s Tuesday, and nobody is waiting for me. That’s my struggle.




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1. What one word best describes your writing life?

  • Start.

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

  • I read craft books over and over. If I’m trying to figure out something in my work, I read every craft book I can find about it. I will also read the examples from the book to see how it’s done. I don’t read southern writers when I’m working or I’ll mimic them.

3. What is your strangest obsession or habit?

  • I don’t have many habits that I can recall. I wish I could develop an exercise and a writing habit. I’ve tried. One habit is that I’m nocturnal. I don’t fall asleep before one a.m. and I wake up before six a.m. without an alarm clock.






Other Writers in the Series