Inner Landscapes

The second of two ‘not-quite-excerpts’ from Butterfly Raven written in response to the monthly prompt over at The Writer’s Block. This one lets us take just a little peek into Ethne’s inner landscape. It was posted in response to the September ‘first line’ prompt.

~*~*~

The entrance to Laurel Creek Estates wasn’t on any map. It was a construct, a place she went to escape the madness of living in a world that was only half awake; half alive.  Savants had their inner landscapes too; ‘memory palaces’ where they might process the results of their thinking, their remembered truths, evidence, for example, in the disputed case of whether or not the label fit the famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes. To her, Laurel Creek Estates was such a place, that afforded her the way to understand, order and process the many thoughts and evidences in her own life; a life lived on several, parallel planes.

She could never have told her therapists that.  If she had, they would have locked her up indefinitely; thrown away the key, but she wasn’t crazy, hadn’t been suffering from the effects of a nervous breakdown or any of the other half dozen diagnoses that had been bandied about in various meetings, held behind closed door, and to which she hadn’t been invited. She hadn’t even seen the written reports until she got an attorney involved, and had finally won her release. What she suffered from was perfectly normal; perfectly healthy, perfectly natural grief. What she was gifted with – and there was the rub so far as the Wells were concerned, Daniel and his mother at least – was the ability to connect with the world on a deeper level.

She closed her eyes, listening to the retreating engine sounds, and the return of the chirrup of crickets and cicadas; the sounds of the evening, though it was late into it by the time Daniel left. She let herself be soothed by it, smoothing out the waves of turmoil his coming had precipitated, and willed her inner footsteps to carry her to Laurel Creek, and the peace that awaited her there.

Running again, Little Raven?

The ornate wooden gates of the estate swung open at the lightest of her touches and closed again behind her; thought the only agent by which they were returned to their place. He was waiting for her beside the pathway, one of her guides; a guardian that had been with her for as long as she could remember. For her, he was a Sacred Warrior; Priest to her inner Priestess and often the steady voice of wisdom amid the clamoring, jangle of fear.

“Not running, My Hawk,” she told him with a tired sigh, “but I won’t allow that man to put me right back where I started after I’ve managed to come this far.”

He looked at her in mild reproach.

This far’ being to shut yourself away in the middle of nowhere, speaking to no one, ignoring several obvious cries for help, and—

“He put me in that place, Gwal,” she interrupted. “He was party to lies that were used to drive a wedge between me and Zak. He spied on me and used my grief to make it seem I was completely crazy and—”

     — has asked you, outright, to go to his brother now, and to help him.

His words derailed her anger, and she sagged; would have sat, right there and then upon the road had the knight not taken her arm in a gentle grasp and tugged her to him.

Come. Share my fire. We can talk better there.

Mutely, she followed the Hawk of May, along the roadway, which at that moment was little more than a dirt track, into the woodland that was the landscape of Laurel Creek on that occasion. The estate shifted and changed according to her needs; fluid as the water for which it was named, ever moving with the ebb and flow in the web of life, of which she was a part.

He led her to a familiar clearing in the woodland, bordered by many trees, but at the head and foot, right and left of the space made sacred by their many meetings there, stood the towering Oak, the solid Cedar, the Rowan and the Ash. At its center flowed a bubbling spring, bordered by carved stones that made a shallow basin into which the water pooled.

It was from the spring that the knight filled a hand carved, wooden bowl, held it between cupped hands and closed his eyes, murmuring a blessing in an ancient tongue before offering it to Ethne. She took the wooden vessel as the precious gift that it was, and as it passed from his hand to hers, he whispered, May you never thirst, and kissed her softly.

The water, as she sipped, was cool and refreshing, but filled her from the inside out with a warmth that began to chase away the fear and doubt with which Daniel’s visit had filled her. She held the bowl for a moment longer, before offering it back to the warrior-priest with an equally soft kiss, and an echo of his blessing and waited while he sipped the water, before he let the remains of it fall to refresh the earth at their feet.

Go to him, Little Raven. It is past time and you are needed… all of you.

Not until he had replaced the bowl in it’s place atop the stone from which the spring flowed did the two of them retreat to sit beside a warmly glowing fire in the southern quarter of the grove, and as they sat she asked the question born of his insistence and the urgency she heard in his voice; felt from him in their brief moment of shared blessing.

“What have you seen?”

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Throwing Down a Gauntlet

For those of you following along, those of you that love to write as well as to read, I’m issuing a friendly challenge.  Come and join us over at The Writer’s Block.  There, you’ll find a ‘first line’ prompt each month, and you simply write to your heart’s content beginning with the sentence or phrase posted as a starting point.

You can write any genre of fiction or creative non-fiction (including fan fiction), and can post your work as a response directly in the comment, or if you wish to help drive traffic to the place where you post your own works, upload your response there, and then simply post a link in the comment of the prompt’s you’re responding to.  The site is moderated, so it might take a little while to show up, but the mods are usually on the ball. 🙂

September’s prompt is here.

Have fun… and spread the word.  The more writers, the merrier the community!

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Meet Amasiah Denzyl

This is not exactly an excerpt, per se, rather it is a short vignette written in response to the monthly ‘first line’ prompt over at The Writer’s Block, and a way to tease, and introduce Amasiah Denzyl – the major antagonist from Butterfly Raven. Enjoy.

~*~*~

His contact said that by this time of the year he would have little chance in getting close to Denzyl. Agent Donnelly wasn’t deterred. Determined is more what he would have called himself; to find the connection between Amasiah and his cult of crazies, and the accident in the City; to prove the involvement of his ‘inner circle’ in the stalking, and the threats made toward Zackery Wells; to find the missing women.

His SAC said that he’d be crazy to try even getting a warrant.

“No Judge this side of the Hudson,” the man said, “On either side, come to that would ever dream of putting his name to such a document, not when presented with such little, and entirely circumstantial evidence as you’d be presenting.”

“The connections are there, sir,” he argued, but his SAC shook his head.

“Better, more experienced agents than you have tried, and with a damn sight more than you think you have on the man. Let it go, Agent Donnelly.”

He disobeyed orders and tried anyway.  No dice.

Ten days, and a frustrating series of dead ends later, Donnelly was called upstairs and fully expecting a dressing down for going against orders, especially judging by some of the looks he got as he crossed the bullpen, he gathered and quickly reviewed his notes as he took the stairs – rather than the elevator – up to the fifth floor of the New York field office.

He wasn’t exactly wrong, but neither was he right. As he exited the stairwell, SAC Learner grabbed his arm and hauled him into a side office.

“What the hell did you do, Donnelly!”

“Sir?” Donnelly asked, frowning in confusion. He sensed  it was in connection with the case he was trying to build against the Order of Law’s cult leader, but not in full possession of the facts, he was unable to be certain that was why he’d been hauled upstairs, and why it looked as though his boss was about to make a mess in his shorts.

“I’ve got Denzyl and two of his cronies, stinking up my office with the stench of their incense,” Learner snapped. Then as if spelling out the question to a two-year-old repeated, “What. Did. You. Do?”

“Nothing, I—” Donnelly began, but though better of it at the expression on the SAC’s face. He decided that coming clean would be the better option. “Okay, so… I may have spoke with Judge Walters about a—”

“A warrant!” Learner practically exploded.  “I told you to leave it, Donnelly. Did you think I just told you that for my health? Jesus Christ… that man is—”

“No man is untouchable,” Donnelly interrupted, fidgeting. He’d seen Learner break some of the most hardened criminals from the north to the south of the east coast. To see him react as he was to the presence of a single man, it was uncomfortable; disturbing. He glanced in the direction of Learner’s office, as though he could see through the walls.

“He is your worst nightmare,” Learner told him, “Wrapped in crap, dried and then polished to a mirror shine. There is no way you, or any other agent in this godforsaken Bureau is going to get anything to even spill over his Saville Row suit, let alone stick.”

“Then why the hell call me up here?” Donnelly asked. “Why not just apologize for the Bureau’s mistake and send him on his way?”

“Because,” Learner said. “He asked to speak with you.”

 

Donnelly stepped into Learner’s office and immediately felt the urge to straighten his suit jacket. All three men awaiting him were impeccably dressed and immaculately groomed as though they had stepped out of a dressing room and into the office, and had not travelled – if his information was accurate – half way across the city, in the rain.

The two men on either side were tall, one obviously a professional, he mused, judging by the briefcase he held in one hand, and the file folder tucked under the arm on the opposite side.  The other man gave less of a clue about his function, or relationship to Denzyl, but he regarded Donnelly with an intensity that was disturbing.

Denzyl stood between the two of them, absolutely still as though made of stone, his face set in a slightly sardonic expression, thin lips pressed together, set beneath a narrow, slightly hooked nose, the large nostrils of which flared briefly as Donnelly’s gaze fell over him. His brown eyes were deeply set beneath brows that were almost a perfect bow. The man’s wide forehead was lined, and the lines set into a frown at odds with the confidence the rest of his visage displayed. Donnelly took it all in, down to the styled, short cut, hair that greyed slightly at the temples and cropped sideburns, painting an indelible picture into his memory of the man so many seemed to fear.

“Mister Denzyl,” Donnelly said, and stretched out his hand. “Thank you for coming.”

The gesture went unreciprocated. Instead, Denzy gestured toward the man on his right, with a manicured hand that held a pair of Italian leather gloves.

“My associate, Mister Grantham,” he said and then gestured to the other side, confirming Donnelly’s first impression as he added, “and my attorney, Windsor Lauchlan. I understand that you have been making enquiries concerning me; accusations.”

His voice was like treacle poured over gravel, at once smooth, but with an unexpected bite. The accent was British, certainly, but with a hint of something a little more exclusive – a barely detectable brogue, perhaps that lent an edge to the words he spoke.

He turned his gaze on Donnelly then, eyes narrowed as if to contain the spark of fire that sent fingers of warning up and down Donnelly’s spine behind a cage of long lashes.

“There are some would consider that unwise,” he said, and then as if to a subordinate or lackey, held out a hand toward the file Donnelly’s held and snapped his fingers once. To his own incredulity, Donnelly gave him the file, which Denzyl then set immediately into his attorney’s hands. The lawyer started flicking through the file.

“Those were quite serious allegations, Agent Donnelly,” Denzyl said, “and upsetting, considering I count Ms. Chandler’s father as one of my closest friends. I was to be her daughter’s godfather… and have offered a substantial reward for information leading to… well…” he smiled, like a viper, the light of it never reaching his eyes. “…let us not tempt the gods, shall we? You appreciate my meaning, I’m sure.”

“I had to follow every lead,” Donnelly protested softly.

“Very commendable. A perfect investigator.”

“And Zachary Wells?” Donnelly asked, his hackles raised by the sarcasm in Denzyl’s remark.

“Really?” Denzyl laughed humorlessly. “A two-bit actor? Yes, I’ve done my research, Agent, and hope I might say the same of you. Scientology may covet celebrity among its members to sustain its reach and its wealth, but my organization holds no such pretensions, so perhaps you can explain to me why I might…?”

He glanced at his attorney, and Donnelly was sure it was for effect. The man knew exactly the content of the warrant he’d tried to have served and was just playing games with him now.

“Pursue and threaten,” the attorney prompted.

“Well… Matthew?” Denzyl asked, and Donnelly tensed as the man used his given name, and after a few moments of silence Denzyl dismissed the matter with an almost sibilant, “No matter. I am here to co-operate, after all.”

“Co-operate?” Donnelly couldn’t help but doubt that was the man’s intent. Not even for a moment did he imagine that Denzyl, nor his associates would give him one iota of information that would advance his case or lead him to finding the missing women he was certain were somehow tied to the Order of Law.

“An invitation,” Denzyl said and, without looking, reached beside him and took a business card that Mister Grantham held aloft, between his index and middle fingers, and flipped it right side up as he offered it to Donnelly. “The card holds the address of the Chapter House here in the City, rather than our offices, which you have already visited. Feel free to drop by at any time. My officers will be happy to accommodate your questions, and… to introduce you to our members, whom you might interview at your leisure.”

Donnelly raised an eyebrow, full of doubt that anything he might see or hear would be genuine, no matter when he might call on them, and turned the card over in his hand to see, written in a neat and fluid script, the time 8:45pm, and the date of the coming Wednesday.

It drew his gaze back to Denzyl, who added seamlessly, “And should you visit at the time and date written on the card, I will be happy to receive you… personally.”

Though he would never admit it to another soul, Donnelly found himself chilled, not by the tone in Denzyl’s voice, nor the uncompromising bitterness he saw in the other man’s eyes, but in the pause he’d left before the final word of his invitation. He had issued a challenge, and somehow Donnelly knew that if he did not respond, he would forever consider himself a coward.

“Eight, forty-five on Wednesday then, Mr Denzyl.”

Denzyl nodded once, then said, “If there is nothing else?”

“You’re… free to go,” Donnelly answered.

Denzyl stepped forward then, leading the others toward the doorway, but he paused at Donnelly’s shoulder, and though the FBI agent had a good few inches on the man, he felt somehow as though it were the other way around, as Denzyl hissed, “Oh, I know that, Agent Donnelly, and I shall remain so in spite of your efforts otherwise.”

Then he moved onward, and Donnelly barely recovered from his sudden stupor to watch the retreating backs of his three visitors, unable to help but wonder where the fourth Horseman was, and when he would come barreling through his remaining sanity.

 

Amasiah Denzyl remained silent, contemplative until they had reached the middle of their descent down the staircase toward the ground floor and the exit of the government building, already pulling on his gloves in anticipation of the cooler outside air.

“His evidence?” he asked.

“Some is… troublingly close to accurate.”

“Bury it.” He waited until they reached the doorway, and Grantham opened the umbrella to shield him from the still torrential rain as they made their way to the car that he had summoned on the way down to the street, before he said, “And Nathaniel…”

“Mr Denzyl?” Grantham answered, opening the car door and remained in place until he was comfortably seated in the warmth of the vehicle, then he closed the door, and came around to the other side. He climbed in, closing the door to insulate them from the jangling energies of the City.

“Take him out.”

Denzyl leaned forward and tapped on the glass, and the driver smoothly pulled away from the curb and into traffic, and Denzyl sat back, closing his eyes, his fingers linked and steepled at his lips as he let go a long, slow breath.

 

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Resource For Writers

On my travels today, I came across a site that posts monthly prompts as starting points for pieces of writing.  They accept all genres of writing, including fan fiction, and invite writers to post either the work, or a link to their work posted elsewhere in the comments section of each prompt.  I for one will be giving it a try, and I invite anyone who wants to, to join me.

The site is called The Writer’s Block and it can be found by following the link. Enjoy!

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Whether You Hold Them In Your Arms Or In Your Hearts… Blessed Be

I have debated all. Day. Long as to whether I should write and post this journal entry, and even as I’m typing this, I’m still – somewhere in the back of my mind – second guessing myself, and why? This isn’t about anyone else really, it’s about MY feelings, and as such, as an act of self-compassion, I need to voice and acknowledge those feelings without self-censoring for the sake of avoiding getting someone else all bent out of shape, or pandering to the inner critic who’s trying to convince me that I’m such a terrible person for even thinking about speaking about it all.

But today of all days, I can’t allow myself to do that, and I can’t, and won’t sit silently and keep it all inside because, though I say it’s not about anyone else, there are actually many, many women out there in the world for whom today is especially hard… including me. Last year, I had three miscarriages, one after the other, all ‘unexplained,’ and if I hadn’t, this year would have been be my first Mother’s Day. However, I woke today taking a deep breath and girding my loins; determined I wasn’t going to mope, I wasn’t going to bring anyone down on a day devoted to family and motherhood (here in the US anyway – other parts of the world including the UK celebrating on a different day) and would throw myself into the celebrations and ‘goddamn it’ have a good time along with everyone else! (And I did, matter of fact, have a lovely day with my US family, sharing good food, and good company – and a damn good movie).

Still it didn’t change the fact those feeling are still there. That I’d ‘welcomed them in, acknowledged them, and then shown them the door, “Cback later if you still want to ‘talk’.”  Evidently they did, because here I am.

Earlier this year, I was told that my feelings were bullshit… yes pretty much those exact words, and today – Mother’s Day – that popped into my head, from time to time, as I went through the day trying not to feel those very feelings acutely (and all over again). They are feelings of inadequacy, of failure – of feeling ineligible to name myself ‘woman’ because I cannot do something that is a genetic, biological part of being a woman. Namely creating and nurturing a new life and bringing that life to birth. It’s not something I, or any other woman that might share these feelings and these fears actually WANT to feel, but we feel them non-the-less, and they happen in spite of reassurances and words of comfort that are sincerely mean by friends and family about the ‘positives’ of living a childless life. If what you want, what you FEEL in your heart of hearts is a desperation to know parenthood, those kinds of comments – though meant in good faith – don’t actually help. They are isolating, and can leave a person feeling more lonely than reassured… but to be told that the way you feel is bullshit… or that women who say/feel such things actually make someone else angry, as if we have no right to those feelings, or they in some way diminish the angered person – or even affect them at all…? Excuse my indignation, but what the ever-loving hell!? Then again, maybe it’s a case of not truly understanding where, or why, or how someone could feel such a thing, or not truly understanding the very real, psychological effects of infertility and loss, and how to deal with them. (Here’s a helpful article.)

One of the wonderful ladies on a Facebook group that I’m a part of posted a link to an article entitled, To Those of Us Struggling with Infertility This Mother’s Day, which you can read for yourself by clicking on the title.  I think it might help with understanding what some women are going through, especially today, but also on many other days of the year… and for those women out there – mothers – whether you hold your children in your arms or only in your hearts, and to those nurturing women who are ‘mothers’ in the ancient tribal meanings of the word, I hope your day today has been filled with joy and love and blessings – as was mine.

Blessed Be.

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‘Once’ Chicago, Fandoms, Conventions, and Star Trek.

It isn’t all that often you’ll find me excited to be waking up at three thirty in the morning.  I’m really not a morning person at the best of times, but that Saturday morning was a definite exception to the rule.  I was off to Chicago with my guy, and to the convention, run by Creation Entertainment, for the ABC show Once Upon A Time. We were flying in and out just for the day – a total whirlwind.

Let’s be completely up front about this – it wasn’t our first rodeo. We’ve been to conventions before, we’ve been to many, many conventions before, and a lot of them run by Creation, though usually for Star Trek, and the ones we’re used to are a lot bigger than the one we’d be going to that day, so… we pretty much knew what to expect – mostly.

The two main differences seemed to be because of size (the number of attendees), and of course, the nature of the fandom. Firstly, on the whole everything was more laid back. There were a couple of exceptions to that, mostly down to the personality of the ‘stewards,’ and secondly – and maybe this is just a sign of me getting old – oh, my word, the fangirling!

We had been lucky enough, thanks to a computer glitch and a really kind and helpful employee of Creation, to secure tickets to the morning meet & greet with Emiie de Ravin, (with a quick pop in by Rose Reynolds), there were nine of us, plus Emilie, and it was a fabulous experience especially when the questions and conversation focused on the work… could have done without the ‘squeaing’ though. However, Emilie was amazing, included everyone, and kept the conversation rolling on so that the half hour experience seemed to go by lightning fast, and then she was gracious enough to take a selfie with everyone there – and really was very attentive, trying to make sure everyone that wanted the picture had the opportunity.

We had been to a couple of the Creation meet & greets before, one for Christopher Lloyd, another for Connor Trinneer and Dominic Keating, and the nature of the those, in comparison with the one with Emilie felt wildly different. Christopher Lloyd was all talk of theater, Connor and Dominic’s event was… well it’s hard to describe really, a mix of comic hi-jinx and seriousness, mostly work focused, aside from Dominic’s propensity for being the joker in the pack. The level of fangirling in the experience with Emilie was undeniable – and yes, it was all girls. I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did.

The main auditorium was where we spent most of the rest of our day, listening to the Q&A’s and the questions that were actually quite different to the ones we expected and are used to from the Trek conventions we’ve attended, where the questions tend to be all the same every time, and usually on the subject of, ‘what was your favorite episode and why?’ and similar kinds of questions. While there were a couple of questions like that in the ‘Once’ Q&A’s, I’m happy to say that mostly they were questions that seemed to draw a deeper level of participation from the celebrities.

One of the main differences that I could see between this convention and the others we’ve attended that were run by Creation is the ‘Gold Ticket Holder’ exclusive Q&A panels. I don’t recall that ever happening at the Vegas ST Con, and honestly I think there would be a riot if they tried. The other main – and very welcome – difference about the Once Q&A’s was that they’re not ‘moderated’ by anyone. The celebrities could spend the entire time answering fan questions, and not wasting most of the 45 minute session speaking to the moderator’s rambling thoughts. Let’s be honest, he might believe that this is what people want, but Adam does tend to Bogart the on stage time at the Trek Q&A’s meaning that fans get little time to ask their questions and have their few seconds of interaction time with the celebrities. So, having 45 minute sessions devoted entirely to fan questions was a refreshing change.

Rose Reynolds was a strong advocate for ‘being yourself’ and not being afraid to play into your own strength and weaknesses. She was approachable and very sweet with the one or two gushing fans who professed their love for her, in among her very many searching questions.

Sean McGuire certainly wasn’t afraid to speak his mind, refreshingly unafraid to tell-it-like-it-is where the writing and running of the show is concerned, while mindful of the nature of his character and how it reflects upon himself as a person. It’s a shame that there were a few people that didn’t like that kind of outspokenness, and initiated the kind of drama that is sadly rife within the fandom, and though I love the show, is the one thing that puts me off being a part of the fandom itself. I fear it will ultimately lead to the dissolution of the fandom once the show comes to its end in later this month – unlike the fandom, and being part of the fandom of Star Trek, which persists and spans generations, and added to itself with the release of rebooted movies, and now also with the advent of ST: Discovery. If that’s judgmental, then so be it.

Giles Mathey, and Emilie de Ravin appeared together in a ‘mother and son’ Q&A’ and through their wacky and playful back-and-forth banter, gave us a glimpse of what it must have been like in those times they were working together – and also made us realize, all the more, the fact of Robert Carlyle’’s absence.

Giles is funny, and was a chatter-box using his answers to keep a little bit of a ‘remove’ while allowing the fans to see enough of him to satisfy the need to connect, but up close, (and personal – while signing autographs) connected in some way with each of the people that came to his table, and was wonderfully genuine and attentive; remembered us when we got to the photo op that we took with him and Emilie together.

Speaking of photo ops, I have to commend the company that Creation were using at the convention for their speed of getting the pictures printed and out to the fans. It was almost immediate, which was good for us because we had a flight to catch soon after the photo was taken, and Emilie’s autograph signed, which meant we didn’t have to stress about rushing to the airport or having to download and print the jpg ourselves. This is a far cry from the last time we had a photo op that wasn’t a group shot of friends sitting having breakfast or lunch together.

It was odd, being on ‘that side of the table’ again. Even so, I enjoyed the day a great deal.  Not to say there weren’t things (and a certain ‘jobsworth’ of a steward) that were irritating to a point, but it was an experience to be a part of a regular convention again – and sad that these cons will come to an end with the ending of the show. I would have liked to see more beyond the last of the year.

I made a remark, a question, to my guy to ask what on Earth Creation are going to do when all the shows for which they host ‘official’ conventions come to an end.  They’ve already scaled back what must have once been one of their biggest revenue generators so that now there’s pretty much only the one Star Trek convention a year – the big one in Vegas – and have even cancelled the last remaining, smaller Trek con.  This seems to me to be a little odd in light of the fact that CBS is forging ahead with Discovery, which has certainly breathed a new Trek incarnation to life. Maybe it’s due to CBS having its own official cruise each year, or maybe it’s some other market force of which I know nothing. These last few Once Upon and Time conventions are being billed as the ‘Farewell Tour.’  Supernatural, and Vampire Diaries are not going to last forever, and Outlander is finite by the very nature of it being based on books, of which there are only a limited number in the series.  What happens when all these shows come to an end? What then for the future of conventions and for the members of the fandoms (various) to attend? Will we ‘regress’ to smaller, fan run conventions, or will we enjoy multi-fandom events run by other companies, with Creation being displaced from the top of the heap?

I don’t know the answers to any of those questions, but it will be interesting to see what happens as the years – and the shows – come and go.

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A Big To Do… and Other Moments of Helpful Procrastination.

I have a confession to make. My time management sucks.  There… I said it. I have finally admitted what people have been saying to me in response to my assertion – complaints if you like – that I don’t have time to do… well… any number of things that I might have to, need to, or want to do. So, what can I do about it?

In actuality, in working through this issue to try and understand my objection, and to try and answer that question, I’ve discovered that I’m not as bad as all that at time management, what I lack is the ability to manage interruptions – and there are many of those, both of my own and of others’ making.

It was suggested that I start to make lists, and to have a schedule to follow, and as a fully paid up, bona fide member of the ‘anti-list’ ‘anti-schedule’ club, this sent me into an immediate tail spin. I gnashed my teeth, I pushed again the very idea of having a ‘to do’ list, I even questioned – without receiving an answer, I might add – why having a ‘to do’ list felt like a failure… and guess what…?  I still didn’t manage to get stuff done – imagine that!

So I bit the bullet, admitted that it was probably a good idea to at least try and use a list to help with managing the things I needed and wanted to do. It was a modest list… because I didn’t want to overload either the list, or myself. Already, I felt overwhelmed at the number of things that needed to be done. My first list had just six things on it.  I actually accomplished five of those and the sixth wasn’t done only because it was replaced by a different activity. It could be said to be true that I had made a big ‘to do’ out of having or needing a ‘to do list.’

All Joking aside, I’m still not entirely comfortable with it.  I can feel my overzealous inner critic sitting in the back of my head just rubbing their hands, waiting for the day when I have less than most of the items on the daily list crossed off.  Just waiting to jump on me and tell me how useless I am, that I can’t even get five or six things finished.

In addition, though I have only done two days of lists, (edit: by the time I finished this post, it has been four lists), only one item on each list not an errand or a ‘chore’ (in the sense of the word that we give to our kids when we say, “do your chores and then you can…”)

This leads me to a question: how can I be present for the important people in my life if I can’t even be present for myself? I think that was at the core of my objections to making lists in the first place, but therein lies the biggest irony of all considering my objections were because I’d have a list full of chores and nothing for myself.  I write the list.

You may ask yourself: why is that ironic? It’s ironic because what essentially I have realized is that making a list is actually helpful in making sure that I do something, at least one – maybe two – things for myself each and every day.  I can use the list to help restore a sense of balance in my life. Who knew! Here I was, making a “big to do about nothing,” when actually that ‘nothing’ turned out to be a something… and a really helpful something at that.

On another, slightly different, but equally important tangent – you’ll hear many many writers complain that their biggest fault/sin, their biggest downfall is procrastination.  Writers are the masters of procrastination. There seems to be some kind of writerly ADHD, where we sit with a blank (or if we’re lucky, a partly worked on) page, and suddenly… “Oooh, the internet… shiny!” or “Oooh, I was going to start that load of laundry, wasn’t I?” or any one of a million other thoughts and distractions that pop into our brains.  Well… it may not be the perfect solution, but… make a list!

Let the first act of procrastination in the day be to make a list of all the chores and personal activities that you want to do, and make sure you specifically add at least one entry onto your list that directs you to a writing task. That sets up a commitment to yourself, that you will write; you will make progress on that story, that blog post, that novel… whatever project you have in hand, and make a habit of helpful procrastination.

Funny how life, and life’s paths lead you to consider things your wouldn’t ordinarily have done… and that such things turn out to be helpful.  Funnier still, to me, that I, as a member of the anti-list club, have not only found lists to be helpful (so far), but I’m now advocating them as one way, in a repertoire of ways, of avoiding becoming entrapped by procrastination. Less amusing, I’m sure, will be all the people out there that will tell me, “I told you so.” Oh, I’m just poised with my tongue half poked out already, (in playful jest), at such people.

…but schedules…? That’s another kettle of fish, altogether.

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