Ten Other Things to Do When You Should Be Getting Ready for Thanksgiving (or, What I'm Reading Today)

It’s Top Ten Tuesday on the World Wide Web, and since it’s also Thanksgiving Week, I thought I’d show you how I’m getting ready for the holiday, in the form of a Top Ten List. Thanksgiving is on Thursday this year (*small family joke, there*) and everyone’s coming here. As it happens that I have to work at My Real Job on Wednesday, today is really the day I should be making last-minute preparations for The Great Day Itself.

Howsomever, that is not exactly how I am spending my time today. Instead, I am…well, the thing is, I hardly ever start a book I just can't put down. And stumbling onto an entire series like that? It's pure, Thankgiving gold, my friend. Not something to just be shunted aside until Friday. So in the spirit of today, I now present you with Ten Other Things to Do When You Should Be Getting Ready for Thanksgiving Day.

10. Discover a new novel series and realize you must—must—finish one more chapter before you start making the pie shells for Thursday’s French Silk and Raspberry pies.

9. Contemplate your witch-like hairdo in the mirror, and try to remember the last time you washed it. Decide that it looks rather like a radiant, red halo standing out from your scalp like that, in all directions. Worry that it’s been too many days since you actually worked a shift at the hospital like a normal person, and you are slowly losing your mind. Stifle all guilt by reading another chapter of your book.

8. Scratch the dog’s head, and tell her she smells like popcorn. Feel guilty because you last walked her on Saturday, and she has had nothing to do but sleep for 18 hours a day since then. Vow that you will take her just as soon as you finish this chapter.

7. Realize that the turkey you bought for Thursday sat out on the front porch overnight, and it’s possible that, in this unseasonably warm November in Maine, the temperature never fell to 40 degrees. Worry that everyone will get food poisoning on Thanksgiving. Resolve to confess this to no one. Plug in the extra refrigerator, pop the turkey inside, and read a few more pages while it cools.Reading Turkey

Read more: Ten Other Things to Do When You Should Be Getting Ready for Thanksgiving (or, What I'm Reading...

The Routines and Research of a Part-Time Novelist

Today was a writing day. Not every day is, I’ll confess. I know this is bad writerly practice. All the best authors say you ought to, must sit down at the same time every morning, and not get up until you’ve produced 500, 1,000, 1,500 words.

I would so love to have that kind of life.

But I am not a full-time writer. And between 12-hour shifts at the hospital, a house with 4 stories of living space to keep clean-ish, 3 teenagers, 2 needy dogs, and 1 husband—all of whom expect to eat actual food on a regular basis—I can’t always carve out time to sit down and write 1,000 words a day. I do what I can, when I can, and I try to let go of the rest.

Note to self: This is good advice, not just for writing, but for life.

Still, a couple of times a week, I do get to spend the day just being a writer. Today was one of them. 

I've always read that writing routines are important to productivity, and I am not without mine. When I sit down to write, the first major, indispensable step for me is to check Facebook. After that: Twitter. Then Pinterest, and my 2 G-mail accounts. Next, I go back and re-check them all, in case I missed something. And then a third time, on the off chance that something urgent has come up that will require my attention and absolutely prevent me from having to being able to write today. When this—inevitably—doesn’t happen, it’s time to knuckle down. Research

Read more: The Routines and Research of a Part-Time Novelist

Monday Morning, 2 a.m.

Women who need time to themselves, and don’t get it, often have insomnia. That’s what my doctor told me. If you have trouble sleeping, it may be that you’re waking yourself up in the middle of the night, just to get some time inside your own head.

This is what happens to me. Not every night, but several times a week. I intend to live with serenity, but life hurtles along at the speed of an amusement park ride. And how much serenity is there on a Tilt-a-Whirl, really? Most of the time, I feel like I’m just hanging on. At work, I nurture people all day, then go home at night to nurture my family. All this pouring out can suck me dry. I end up with a lot of sleepless nights.

During years of working 3rd shift, I was often struck by how anxious patients would get over not being able to sleep. I’d try to tell them, “Don’t sweat it. It’s not like you have to be somewhere tomorrow. Stay up; read a book; watch something on TV.”

Inevitably, they’d find some terrible show on USA, about serial killers or missing children, and I’d end up calling doctors at 2 a.m., not only for a sleeping pill, but for an Ativan as well. (It seems no one watches the Hallmark channel in the middle of the night.) So when I started to suffer from insomnia myself, 17 years ago, I knew enough not to just lie there, staring at a dark ceiling, imagining I heard burglars downstairs. I decided to embrace sleeplessness; I got up, and started writing. That was how my first book was born. I had a lot of tired days, but eventually, I also had a novel. Sleepless

Read more: Monday Morning, 2 a.m.