20,000 Leagues under the Sea

From Murderati April 2, 2005

You’ve all heard the term “underwater.” The service industry refers to it as  “being in the weeds.” It’s reserved for that moment, the perfect storm, when there is simply too much going on for one person to handle.

Yep. That’s me this week. Home from tour, FINALLY, thinking I’m going to get some time off. Not really time off, per se, since I have a book due May 1, but a little breather? Maybe a chance to catch up on Gossip Girl? Read the massive stack of People Magazines that have taken root next to my chair? Talk to a couple of friends? My parents? Heck, my mom literally started pouting yesterday when I had to get off the phone after a quick five minute call because we haven’t had a chance to just plain chat for almost a month.

Suffice it to say, I’ve had a lot on my plate. And yes, the vast majority of it I put there myself, which means I’ve got a damn sore backside from kicking myself.

The tour went great. The highlight, by far, was getting to travel with my good friend, the brilliant and talented Erica Spindler. We rocked the West Coast and Denver, and had a great time. Special thanks to everyone for dinners and drinks and rides during our coastal stay (Keith Raffel, Ken Isaacson, Michelle Gagnon, Jason Pinter, Maddie James, Steven Steinbock (though I think I bought HIS drink ; ) Jim Scott Bell… ) I even saw my dear friend Lee Child and managed not to get sucked into the vortex known as the Camel. Denver was wonderful, because I got a chance to see my family, and a couple of my dearest friends. D.C. was the same, I got to meet Katherine Neville and Robbie Goolrick, which was incredibly cool, and I made a new friend, Pickles, the Easter Bunny from Borders. Though poor Randy got food poisoning and we got stuck in Baltimore whilst he was ill. I feel sorry for our neighbors.

The Tennessee Mountain Writers conference in Oak Ridge, Tennessee was wonderful. I taught two fiction sessions, Building an Idea into a Novel and Murder Your Darlings: the Art of Revision. And I spoke to the plenary session, giving a long, convoluted speech about the joys and dangers of social networking. As always, teaching gives me insight into my own writing, and while I’m still not the best teacher in the world, I’m at least getting the hang of it so I don’t have the night terrors before I go in.

And then I came home. March was gone. The book did great. My sanity, not so much.

It’s that damn To Do List, you see.

Priority 1 - My AAs are here for my October book, THE IMMORTALS. AAs, Author Alterations, are Harlequin’s version of page proofs. It’s my very last chance to see the book before it goes to press. Being a bit of a perfectionist, I do my absolute best to catch all the little mistakes: copyedits that didn’t make it in, repeated words and phrases, typos and the like. It’s painstaking work. I’ve marked the manuscript with mini-post-its every place there’s a change, purple for copyedit fixes, yellow for my changes. I’ll compile them all into a spreadsheet and mail the whole thing to New York (today!) So there’s one thing off my plate.

Priority 1.5 - Golf started this week. Randy and I made an executive decision to join a golf club this year. Playing golf on the Nashville public courses has always been good enough for us – the municipal courses around here are fantastic. But the price has gotten completely out of control. A single round of 18 holes for two, with a cart, on the public course, was running us $90. That’s just plain insanity. When we looked at the number of times we played, and the number of times we wanted to play, we realized that it would actually be cheaper to join an actual club. And said club has 27 holes and a strong women’s league, which I promptly joined.

We had our first outing Wednesday morning – and I’ll be playing every Wednesday morning from here on out. I joined the group for a couple of reasons – 1, so I would have some accountability, would make myself get off the computer and actually get outside in the fresh air and get some exercise. You can burn 1,000 calories during a sedate round of golf. And 2, the ongoing attempt at socialization. Being an introvert means I’m perfectly content sitting in the house and not interacting with people, and I have to force myself to go out and do these things. So it should be good for me.

Yes, I took 3 hours away from the multitude of things on my To Do list (one so long it’s actually giving me hives) and played golf. I played like hell, but at least I wasn’t on the computer or staring at words. One of my personal goals for the year was to drop ten strokes off my game, and by God, I’m committed.

Priorities. I Has Them.

Granted, I haven’t read a book since I downed Robbie Goolrick’s A RELIABLE WIFE (fantastic book) last month, I have a stack o’stuff that needs dealing with, two books to read and blurb, oh, and that naggy little thing called a DEADLINE coming up.

But you know what? Life is too damn short. I’m the one who put all this pressure on myself, and I’m going to take it off. It’s my new mantra. I will not feel guilty for doing something that’s good for me. Everyone around me will benefit. My priorities have changed.

This has been coming for a while, the death of fellow writer Louise Ure's husband Bruce this week really hammered it home for me. I have been trying to fathom Louise’s loss, and I can’t. I’m in tears right now just writing about it. And I’m getting to an age where loss is going to become a part of my vernacular. So I don’t want to lose a minute of the time I have left.

I hope you’ve taken some extra time this week to love the ones you love. Not just be with them, but truly reach out and let them know just how much they mean to you. Let me take a moment and thank all of you for reading this blog. It’s a true honor to write for you.

Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

Wine of the Week: In honor of our friends who just celebrated Passover: Covenent Cabernet Sauvignon, a Kosher Napa Valley wine. I want to go to this vineyard - I've heard delighful reports.