At the moment I’m sitting in the waiting room at my beauty salon, waiting for my six-week hair appointment. I have a horrible head cold, my dog’s thrown up five times in the last 24 hours, and this morning I spilled a full bottle of coffee creamer all over me and the hapless refrigerator. Did I mention my husband’s out of town on business (again?) and I’ve been the lone parent in charge of two teenagers? I’m looking forward to the part where I’m stuck under a dryer for twelve minutes because it’ll be the only twelve uninterrupted minutes of my day.
My next book, On Folly Beach, will be out May 4th, and yesterday I turned in the synopsis and first 3 chapters for the next book in my Tradd Street series. I also have a new book (that I haven’t started yet) due October 1st (yes, that’s five months from now). Tuesday is the big launch party for the new book and pretty much straight through until the end of the month I will be doing lots of traveling for book signings and appearances, as well as doing a blog tour where I have to write about 20 blogs. My laptop has become my fifth appendage. Why? Because I’m a writer who also happens to have a life. Did I also mention that I have a high school senior who is graduating on May 22nd? We have no idea where she will be attending school in the fall as she is currently enrolled in two colleges while on the waitlist for three more. Somebody needs to make a decision soon!
People ask me all the time how I manage to be a full-time wife, mother, and writer. The answer is easy: prioritizing and organizing (thank goodness for my Palm Pilot—the best thing since volumizing shampoo and creamy concealer!). I’ve delegated the things that take too much of my time i.e. cleaning and cooking, and I only do laundry once a week. My kids know that if their stuff isn’t in the laundry room by 6:00 am Thursday morning, it doesn’t get washed. Yes, I know, they’re old enough to do their own laundry. This is my one compromise: because I can’t physically be there for every sporting event, or cooking hot meals for them every night, this is what I always do for them. And for my long-suffering husband.
Speaking of which, he’s taking me tomorrow to buy an iPhone to replace my Palm. I’m not the most patient person in the world when it comes to new technology, but we both decided it was time for an upgrade. Hopefully, no blood will be spilled as he tries to teach me the new system and transfer all of my data (hopefully) intact. My whole book tour is on that Palm and if something gets lost, I’m blaming it on my husband! See what I mean about long-suffering? Bless his heart.
I don’t Twitter (and not just because it’s yet another piece of technology that I would need to learn), but I do have a Facebook page and two email accounts (one for personal use and one for reader mail)—which I schedule reading during the day so I’m not tempted to check them all day long or I’ll see my time sucked into the dark vortex! As for grocery shopping—once a week, after church with the whole family so I don’t have to listen to anybody complain that they didn’t get something they wanted. And I TiVo everything so I can watch my favorite shows (Medium, HGTV, Cold Case, and Criminal Minds) without sitting through commercials.
I’m also really good at finding time. Three times a week my daughter and I take a Pilates class together. It’s a way of spending time with her as well as keeping in shape (multi-tasking!) and because she can drive now, I can work on a blog or check email on the way there and back. And did I mention I’m now under the heat dryer? I’m guessing this blog will be done by the time I leave—assuming I don’t mind hairs on the keyboard and keep my laptop out during the cutting process. My stylist, Veronica, thinks it’s cool what I do and is very supportive and understanding when I’m not chatty. That’s the other important ingredient to getting things done: surround yourself with supportive and understanding people. Friends send me encouraging texts (instead of calls) and I’ve got all sorts of fun things scheduled with them after my book tour.
So, why do I make my life so complicated? Another easy question to answer—because being a writer isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. I think it’s important for everyone to include in their lives something they’re passionate about. Otherwise, everything else just seems like you’re going through the motions. I love my children, but in a few years they’ll both be in college and I’m so glad that I have my books to fall back on when I’m surrounded by a suddenly empty, quiet (and spotlessly clean!) house.
Veronica’s approaching, ready to take me from the dryer and start the shampoo/deep condition process. I will gladly close my laptop for this—there’s nothing nicer in the world than having somebody shampoo and massage your head and I’ve been known to fall asleep during the process. Yes, I make time to enjoy myself, too. Regardless of my to-do list, I make sure to spend time each day doing something fun that requires no brain cells. Yes, that can include napping (of which I’m a big fan). It can also be watching TV with my family or laughing over videos my son finds on the Internet.
This brings me to my point: balance. Decide what’s important, what you’re passionate about and then, just like that Nike commercial says, Just Do It!
As someone who also tries to balance many things, I was particularly interested in Karen’s thoughts on her hectic life and schedule, and how she does it all. I’m continuing to work on my formula and I love hearing about how others manage to do all they do. How do you do it? Any tips for me?