broadsideblog

Monday Morning Alone

In behavior, business, Media, work on August 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm
Photo of the Grand Canyon on the south rim at ...
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Monday mornings feel the way I did when I hiked the Grand Canyon. It was four hours down, and eight hours back up.

You’re looking up at a daunting sight, a very steep climb.

I work alone in a suburban apartment. The sweetie is gone 12 hours a day and his work is sufficiently crazed that, while we can speak between his six daily meetings, our conversations tend to be a few minutes at best.

So waking up alone on a Monday morning — my swim classes are Tuesday through Thursday — feels a little lonely. For the past year, I was a member of a blogging community, True/Slant, with some 300 members. I loved our banter and exchanges, but it has closed down in its original iteration, scattering many of our talents and energies to our own individual sites or other group blogs or into radio silence.

I chose the path of being a professional writer when I was still in my teens. I do love writing, but, when you work alone at home, it is one of the loneliest ways I know of to earn a living. Go to any cafe and you’ll find every table piled with laptops, people staring intently into them, many of whom may well be other writers.

Great! Being surrounded by strangers busily staring into computers doesn’t do it for me.

So I am doing what I do every morning to jump-start myself:

1) Listen to BBC World News. I get some idea what’s going out out there. 2) Read three newspapers; ditto. Gives me some blog ideas and maybe some notions of what to pitch to other editors. 3) Place bum in chair. 4) Ignore every possible, tempting distraction, from the pool to email to Facebook to email to the huge stack of unread magazines to housework.

Work!

(How do you settle down and focus?)

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  1. Crossword puzzles. Sometimes it takes a week’s worth but it gets the vocabulary and the irony ready for the week.

  2. Good morning, you are not alone and your morning regimen sounds familiar. I leave in one half hour for my first physical therapy appointment after arthroscopic knee microfracture surgery. Had that six weeks ago and now having doubts.
    Those of us who are self-starters usually work weekends too – as I tried this past weekend, designing stained glass windows for a Seventh Day Adventist church. The architect is “thrilled” by my renderings – but – would like “minor adjustments.” That could be a week of more drawing.
    Happily, my wife and I drive to Santa Barbara tomorrow morning for two nights at the Montecito Inn, originally built by Charlie Chaplin. Then it will be “peddle to the metal” until Christmas. Monday’s begin the phone calls, where I have to make choices, white lies, and appointments. All of my work is commission – no spec or time for gallery work. Forbes is interesting, if not a little impersonal. Tom Medlicott

  3. doug, I used to do them. These days, feeling too overwhelmed. Maybe after the book is done. Hard to believe your irony needs a jump-start…

    Tom, sorry about your knee! Hope it feels better soon. My first knee recovery was slower than the second. Santa Barbara is so spectacular. My great-aunt lived for a while in Carpinteria and it was heaven.

    I haven’t even looked at Forbes. Right now I am scrambling to replace my lost T/S income so looking back won’t help me.

  4. I start Monday like I start most every other day with a ritual that involves making coffee on a stove top coffee maker. If it helps, you can think of a half-moon-eyed mole man staggering to the cupboard to fetch the maker, fill it with water and life giving grounds, screwing the thing together, and placing it on the stove. In time, as the water boils and the maker begins to rumble, his eyes might begin to open and take on their normal shape. By the time it begins to boil up through the coffee chamber, and one of the kids, yells. “Dad!!!! The coffee is blowing!!!!” I am ready to focus and start the day. . .

  5. I love the visual….although exploding coffee is messy. I tend to reheat what the sweetie has made and it often boils over.

    Glad you managed to stagger over to the new site!

  6. I find that I am more productive when I stand up. I’ve made a little laptop stand for myself in my office and when I really need to focus, I move my laptop to it.

    I tried your rubber band tip, but standing up works the best for me. I reward myself by sitting down when the assignment is complete.

    Typing this out and reading it in front of me makes me seem silly, but I think this is left over from when I waitressed/baristaed/hosted/pizzeria-ed/retail & food service, etc.

  7. Fruzs, welcome! I have heard others do this….Challenge is, right now, my hip is so &^%$#ed up I won’t be able to do that. I do find that moving around every 20 or 30 minutes, just to get the blood flowing, helps.

    For me, the toughest part is always the isolation. If I am working, seriously, I am sitting alone in my apartment and in silence. If I am out, with people, or listening happily to radio talk shows or news, I am not working….and feeling I should be.

    Just got off the phone with Claudia Deutsch, so the T/S network still hums.

  8. Howdy. As another T/S survivor (graduate? Alum?) it’s good to connect with you here. You can come play on my site http://www.thephoenixsun.com anytime. If (my) writing were only as beautiful the Grand Canyon!

  9. I wish any of our writing were that beautiful! Glad to see you here….just emailed PJ Tobia who’s in NYC this week, so we’ll be meeting up as well.

    I do feel mighty untethered now without the T/S site as mother ship. We’ll just have to visit one another the old-fashioned way.

  10. My grandparents (b.1904/12)never seemed distracted by anything. Come to think of it, my parents(b.1939/44) never did either. Everyone seemed SO busy,All day, getting as much ‘done’ their day as they possibly could.

    Then there is me (b.1974). I don’t know. There are iPods,iPads,Internet news,Email,Chat,Online shopping,Online games,all sorts of online streaming media,Cell phones,Physical magazines/papers/periodicals,Regular multiple gaming systems with the T.V.,Cable and satellite T.V,Netflix,Satellite radio programs,Food,Drink,House phone constantly ringing,Mail’s here, Sign for FedEx & UPS stuff,Snacks,Health club,Run errands,Bossy appliances…

    It is amazing if I remember to shower. Where does a job even fit in?

  11. Job? Say what?

    I came back from a recent vacation in slooooow moving B.C. and am deliberately removing much of this noise from my day, reducing my exposure to radio and TV. I don’t play online games (other than this!)

  12. Don’t feel lonely. Some of us followed you =)

  13. Suzanna, believe me…lovely to see you!

  14. I like Monday. It’s results day for me. It’s when I get responses from stories published during the week and hear back from editors on pitches. It’s also when I plan for upcoming stories–typically based on things I may have thought of over the weekend. It helps to have local friends that can break away for regular lunches, though I still may open and close the refrigerator twenty times a day.

  15. Dennis, this sounds great. Wish I could get all my clients to respond on Mondays! But I agree about it being a good time to start pitching based on your weekend reading. I just spent an hour and found a bunch of things in my reading, but you have to carve out that “unproductive” hour.

  16. Just to amend my last post. I don’t get responses every Monday. It just seems like editors like to get back to me at the beginning of the week, whether it be one or four Mondays after getting my pitch. But I agree about having to make time for other things. Non-working activities seem to inspire more ideas for me.

  17. I find my best ideas, as I think many of us do, far away from the computer. I went to the Met Museum last week and came home with my head brimming with inspiration, wholly refreshed by playing hooky.

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