interview: a day in the life

(This is a post from 2010.  Glad to say I’m getting MUCH more rest nowadays!)

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Kristina at the blog Owning Kristina just sent an email and asked me to describe a day in my writing life for her.  She wants to know what it’s like to spend your days doing what you love (and doing things to support doing what you love).


Here’s a typical day for me:


Haul myself* out of sleep like some abandoned wreck pulled from the bottom of the sea.

*Sweet husband has pointed out that he does most of the hauling.


Wake kids, gather up their school clothes, make breakfast, make lunches, deposit kids in carpool cars.


Make coffee.*  Call my mom and make her chat with me while it’s brewing.

*I usually forget to drink it.


Back in bed.  To work on laptop, or, if the coffee’s not working and I am beyond all possible human exhaustion, take a nap.  Usually, I work.  Because this is it!  Once I pick up my 4 year old from preschool, my working day is over.  The pressure’s on! The clock is ticking!*  I do a blog post, or answer emails.  I Tweet a little bit, maybe.  Sometimes I go to coffee with somebody.  Sometimes I take a walk if I’m feeling super-ambitious.

*I never feel like I’ve made proper use of this time.


Pick up son, make the carpool rounds, make lunch, build bridges and magical castles out of blocks, water garden, go to grocery store, and generally goof around.  Somewhere in there, I steal away for a shower.


Pick up carpool #2!


Come home, make snacks, read to kids, check email in front yard on laptop while kids ride scooters up and down sidewalk.  After a while, we go inside and dance around the living room.  Then they swing in the backyard while I fuss in the garden.


Daddy comes home from school.  (He’s a teacher.)  Much rejoicing all around.


I make dinner and listen to NPR–oh, how I love NPR!–while children wrestle their dad in the living room.


Lengthy, unweildy, and unbelievably prolonged bedtime routine for children involving bubble baths, requests for water and snacks, bed-jumping, picture books, subtraction flashcards, and reading Harry Potter aloud.*

*Reading Harry Potter aloud is one of my favorite things to do.

9:00-2:00 am*

Work. (Also: visit with husband, read a little, catch up on 30 Rock, and search for vintage Airstreams on Craigslist.)  On a good night, I write.  These days, most of my work relates to my new book that just came out. Or other stuff:  blogging, making videos, answering emails, answering questionnaires, writing essays for anthologies.

*“But that’s only 4.5 hours of sleep a night!?” Correct.


1. That’s a typical day–but not, actually, these days.  April and May are also full of book promotion activities–traveling, reading at bookstores, speaking at luncheons, visiting with book clubs, Skyping with far away book clubs.  It is, as we call it, my “busy season,” and my husband and mom are both working overtime to pick up my slack and make sure that everyone is taken care of.

Signing Get Lucky at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston.

2. Looking over this list, I feel a happy buzz of gratitude for all the fun things I get to do–especially playing with my kids.

3. It is worrisome that I’m not getting enough sleep.  I’m living on coffee right now, but it’s not really the same thing.  And if the circles under my eyes could talk, they’d agree.  I think when my little one’s in Kindergarten, I’ll be able to get more rest.  In the meantime, feel free to send me those articles about how lack of sleep turns you into apsychopath.

4.  You know how they say “Don’t quit your day job”?  I think of myself as having a “day job.” (Raising my kids–though they’re less a “job” than a “calling.”)  And I actually think it’s better for productivity if you DO have a day job.  In college and graduate school, when I didn’t have much to do, I was far less productive than I am today.  (Unless, of course, if your day job totally annihilates you and makes it impossible to do anything else.)  I’m not sure that wide stretches of nothingness are actually good for creativity.  I think creative people actually do BETTER with limitations.  Necessity is totally the mother of invention.

6. How do I get through moments of self-doubt?  By writing. No matter what, the writing is always a good thing.

And that is the upside to doing what you love.  The fact that you love it.