Saturday, December 10, 2011

Time Management, Or How I Came To Love Starbucks . . .

I’m busy. I work full time, sing in my church choir, cart my theater loving teenager to and from endless rehearsals and dance classes, keep house—sort of—stock the family larder with essentials like Cheerios and toilet paper. I’m busier than a three-legged dog marooned on Flea Island.

And expected to meet a deadline.

Not just any deadline mind you, but one requiring I hand over a small piece of my heart and soul, one that has been perfected over months and polished to the point that someone might actually want to read it.

No pressure.

Most of you probably keep a similar schedule. Welcome to the life of the Modern Writer.

Here’s how I manage. My house stays messy. I don’t cook as much as I used to, and I snatch a few moments of quality time with Thing Two in the car between activities. My husband and I high five one another on the way out the door—he’s deep in the throes of rehearsal as Tevya in a local production of FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.

Did I mention I live with more than one theatre buff?

Anyhow, recently I discovered Starbucks.

I know, I know, Starbucks has been around a while. But I’m not a coffee drinker, so America’s favorite coffee house has never appealed to me.

Until lately.

Necessity makes strange bedfellows, the old saying goes, and I am currently in the throes of a love/hate affair with Starbucks.

It’s the kid’s fault, see. She goes from production to production in her theater department and she’s 15, which means she can’t drive. We live too far away from her high school to run back and forth, so I sit at Starbucks and write while she’s at play practice.

I sit at Starbucks a lot.

I’ve developed a fondness for their Passion Ice Tea and bruises on my backside from their hard wooden chairs. (Some other person ALWAYS homesteads in the comfy seat before my arrival, leaving me to roost in one of the cruel chairs.)

At first, I couldn’t write because of the canned music and the constant buzz of customers in and out of the store. Then there was the dull ache radiating from my bruised posterior as I tried not to inventory what the other customers were reading.

Did you know, for example, there’s a magazine completely dedicated to sheep?

But, I’ve adapted. The nerve endings in my butt have died, and my brain has learned that sitting in Starbucks is the cue to write. Now, I no longer hear the music or notice the noise of the baristas. As for my abused behonkus, I chalk it up to suffering for my art.

The point is we can train ourselves as writers. In my case, the green and white blinking light of a Starbucks’s sign throws my creative brain into gear.

Thank goodness, because I have a deadline approaching.

I’ll have a Trenta Passion Tea, please. Hold the sheep.


Jane Charles said...

I can so relate with your life. In fact, I think I live your life - lol. Except for me, I pass Starbucks on the way to the theater, hit the drive-thru, grab my Raspberry Mocha and head to the makeup room for whatever production I am working on at the moment. My daughter is sometimes there, or may be on stage for a production in a different theater, but at least she can now drive herself. I've never actually sat inside and tried to work in Starbucks, but know a number of people do. I may have to try it sometime. The change in scenery may help my muse. Oh, and the hot cocoa is also delicious.

Carla Swafford said...

Lexi, I remember the constant running around when my kids were at home and before they drove (and some even afterwards). The oldest was at soft ball or band practice, I would read while sitting on the backless, hard wood (or cold-butt numbing steel) bleachers.

Then when my youngest was at band, dance or baton practice, I had an AlphaSmart or a pad/pencil and wrote. I was the mom thought to be unsocialable. But they didn't know, I had lots of imaginary friends. Wait! That wouldn't necessarily be a good thing to tell them, would it?

Anyway, in some ways I miss it. It was wonderful when my girls would get back in the car, talking a hundred miles an hour about how they did and what so and so said or did ... yeah. I miss it a lot.

Great post.

Louisa Cornell said...

Great post, Lexi. There is something to be said for a specific place and atmosphere to kick the muse into gear. My kids don't have school activities, but they do have to go to the vet and they have to GO OUTSIDE NOW PLEASE frequently. I don't know if I have my muse trained, but the dogs know if Mom sits at her desk and turns on that funny black box she ain't moving for a while. And they've learned if I get up it is NOT necessarily to do something for them. It may be to do my version of a potty break or a quick trip to the fridge to get a Milo's refill. However, when they hear the DING of my computer powering down they KNOW it is OUTSIDE time and they jump up and down and dance accordingly. Wish I could train my muse to do that when I turn the computer ON!

And I wish I could talk my day job into leaving me alone for more than two days a week!

Lexi said...

Jane, your life sounds as manic as mine! I must admit to a fondness for Starbucks hot chocolate . . .

Lexi said...

Carla, your kids probably did think you were unsociable back then, but look how it's paid off! I think women rock, to be able to do all that we do and not go postal!

Lexi said...

Louisa, the important thing is you're getting in writing time. Glad you've got your fur babies trained. My human ones aren't quite as agreeable!

Lisa Dunick said...

I honestly don't know how you all do it. I guess you do what you have to when you have to, but man, oh, man, I an barely manage with a part-time job. I think a full-time job would totally kill any ability to write. Or at least to write anything worth reading.

Lexi said...

Lisa, I have never claimed to do any of it well. I am scatterbrained most of the time!