Playing make believe

A whole twenty-four hours all to myself. Pure bliss, sweet as honey. A balm for the weary soul. Glorious.

If you could have twenty-four hours alone in your house, what would you choose to do? My goal was to make believe I was a writer. For eight hours, I decided, I would write.

People do that, you know. They wake up in the morning, fix a cup of coffee, and then sit down at their desk and type till the sun goes down or their fingers fall off, whichever comes first.

I have a writer friend. Each day when her girls and hubby leave the house, she sits down and writes, six whole hours of words. Her fingers have been worn down to nubbins, just little bumps dangling from the ends of her hands.

So anyway, that was my plan: lose my fingers. Endurance writing. However, I knew from the get-go that I was doomed to fail, at least partially. We had overnight company arriving that night at 5, the same time that Mr. Handsome and the girls would be returning from their adventures, so there was last minute cleaning and cooking to attend to (despite the previous week’s spate of deep cleaning and nearly the a whole previous day spent doing more of the same). Plus I’m conditioned to only focus for two hours, three max, before switching gears. Extensive free time is not my norm. Therefore, I decided to write for a total of eight hours, but with breaks for cooking and cleaning. I made lists. I worked ahead. I cleared my schedule completely.

And then, a few minutes after Mr. Handsome drove off down the road with the giddy girls in tow, my mother called to see if I was ready for them to return my little boy. “Wh-wh-what? When?” I asked, choking back the rising panic. “You’re kidding, right?”

“Tomorrow morning,” she said brightly.

She wasn’t joking.

I started to cry.

I’m telling you right now, don’t anyone get between a mama and her much-anticipate and artfully arranged free time. We can handle peed-on sheets and written-on walls and permanent-markered lamp shades and broken cups and weird toe rashes and stinky farts, but tell us we can’t have our free time and things get reeeeal dicey.

Thankfully, bless her heart, my mother sensed that my desperation to be alone was greater than my son’s desire to return home. They’d keep him, she said. Write in peace, my dad said.

I finished washing the bathroom floor, soaked in a tub of cold water (it’s becoming an evening ritual, what with this fearsomely hot weather we’re having), wrote for two hours before bed, rose at 5:30 to go for a rulk (that’s run and walk, combined), and then did two hours of chores before showering and settling on the sofa for a whole day of writing, cold drinks and brownies standing at the ready to urge me onward.

In order to help me focus, I do all my writing in a word document with my internet turned OFF. I force my fingers to keep tapping, my mind to keep wrenching the thoughts from my brain (yes, a mind is different from a brain). It’s draining work, this mind-digging, and for an extrovert like me, it can be torturous. So I drink (iced!) tea and coffee, crunch on a peanut butter apple, notice my toenails need to be trimmed, admired my clean house, review the last minute food prep details, and then return reluctantly to the task at hand (ha! a pun! or it would be if I was hand writing—get it?): writing.

Now, in honor of my game, some quotes by writers about their craft:

“Writing is my vacation from living.” EUGENE O’NEILL (Ain’t that the truth.)

“Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking.” WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS (What if it never gets hot?)

“The one great rule of composition is to speak the truth.” HENRY DAVID THOREAU (Humph. Like that’s easy.)

“If you want a trophy, go learn how to bowl. If you want to write, God help you.” CINTRA WILSON (I hate bowling. I take this as a good sign.)

“Writers have no real area of expertise. They are merely generalists with a highly inflamed sense of punctuation.” LORRIE MOORE (So if I’m no good with commas, what does this all mean?)

“The act of writing puts you in confrontation with yourself, which is why I think writers assiduously avoid writing.” FRAN LEBOWITZ (Hear! Hear! She speaks truth!)

“Finish the day’s writing when you still want to continue.” HELEN DUNMORE (My mom already done did teached me this.)

About one year ago: Raspberry-Lemon Buttermilk Cake
About two years ago: Angel Bread


  • Cookie baker Lynn

    I've dreamed of being that industrious, scheduled writer. As long as I have kids at home, it's not going to happen. Just yesterday as I was mopping the floor I was musing aloud to my husband that, except for the rare years when our kids went to the same camp, we've never been without at least one child in the house. Also, when the writing gets tough, the tough go baking.

    I hope your 24 hours were, if not totally productive, refreshing and soothing to your soul.

  • Anonymous

    And from Writer's Almanac, "Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard." DAVID MCCULLOUGH


  • Mama Pea

    I've started this comment about four different times but can't seem to get out what I want to say. So I'll give up and simply say that I enjoyed reading this blog for so many reasons. Thanks.

  • beth

    glad you were able to write. Time by yourself is something VERY precious. Hope you enjoyed. I've always liked the quote by Hemingway: "writing is easy. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed". I'm sure it's not that easy though. 😉

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    If I had 24 hours to myself, I'd probably walk around the house like a zombie for a good hour or so trying to figure out what to do with myself (I am never alone). Then, I'd clean the house, which would get done in a flash without children underfoot. Then, I'd read or blog or nap or quilt or do all of those things.

    I'm intrigued by writers. Thanks for giving me another glimpse into what life must be like:-).

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