Killing Audrey II—again

Yesterday @DeidreKnight of The Knight Agency, literary agent and romance writer, held a Q&A session for Austin RWA. She was inspirational—at least I found her so. She approaches the business of running her agency in a way that’s both very creative and very directed. That’s what’s so inspirational.

Creative as well as directed… that’s what we all want to be, isn’t it?

So my question to myself this Sunday is whether I can be more creative and more directed. That’s why this time I’m assessing my goals in a different way. How do the goals affect each other? Am I letting my priorities have priority? Seems like I’m doing okay… but am I still approaching what I want to do in a self-defeating way?

What’s clear first of all is that I have physical limitations. Surprise! This is a fact I’ve managed to more or less ignore since my time in architecture school at ages 17 to 19, when I learned to sleep only every other night. Limitations are boring (whine, whine). The fact is, though, that when I’m exhausted, I don’t function well.

Which leads to:

Reading. I read very fast, so though I read only in the gaps of my day and rarely sit down to specifically spend time on it, I get through a lot of novels quickly. These few minutes of reading several times a day are my downtime. The brief sessions leave me refreshed and refocused.

I’ve tried meditation instead, and it does relax me, but meditation leaves me glazed-eyed, slack-jawed and unable to focus. Maybe that means I’m too susceptible to it? I get a relaxing effect similar to meditation but without the drooling by sitting on my back porch first thing in the morning or after digging in the garden.

Which leads to:


That’s another fact. Enough talk about how to manage Time. Try managing an Enemy! An Enemy comes back at you again and again until you defeat it.

That’s what I realized this morning, while killing Audrey II for the third time.

Audrey II is a thorny thicket that lives in my garden. She was just a little tree stump the winter we moved here. That spring she started to grow. I let her grow while I researched what she was. A jujube tree? Also called a Chinese date. Indestructible by flood or drought, so she’s perfect for this area. But fall came and she never bore fruit, just thorns on the branches that started as needles and grew into fangs. I suspect she’s a wild jujube on which a jujube hybrid was once grafted. So I cut her down.

Three more of her grew along the fenceline, thriving, thriving, while everything else in the garden died in the 105-degree heat last August. Then I sprayed her with guaranteed-to-kill herbicide. A few stray drops were enough to kill my lovely honeysuckle vine, which lived behind Audrey II, but the poison didn’t kill her. This spring she came back, greener and thicker and thornier than ever.

This morning I cut her and her unholy offspring down again. From now on, I’ll snip her new little suckers off at ground level whenever they appear.

And this means what for my writing, my primary goal?

What’s the Audrey II of my life? What’s blocking me with its dagger-sharp thorns?

Is it reading? Maybe. Damn. 

I’m not sure… but this week, I’ll try not reading.

I’ve been writing, but in the same way I do my job: as a duty that must be done. Once it was done, I could put it down and move on. Writing has to become more integrated into my life, something I do all the time, something normal and mundane.

Since I write in longhand, I can carry around my current manuscript pages on a clipboard. When I come to a gap in my daily life—a ten-minute work break, a meal, after I’m done with not-drooling on the back steps—instead of filling the little gaps in my life with reading, I’ll fill them with writing.

It’s worth a try.

What’s your own big, thriving, thorny Audrey II?

7 thoughts on “Killing Audrey II—again

  1. Julia Indigo

    Great post, SJ.
    I love your Audrey story! And relating that to what’s keeping you from being productive and awake… Now that I’m keeping a neater house (thanks to my row80 goals), I’m looking around to see what needs doing, and starting to do it. I’m thinking that my big, thriving, thorny Audrey II is Facebook. Oy.

      1. Julia Indigo

        It’s simple, actually – get off the iMac, and on to the laptop. The laptop’s screen is too small, and it’s RAM too insufficient to do more than one thing at a time. Right now I have ELEVEN tabs open in Google Chrome on the imac. And one wonders why I haven’t written anything this morning (afternoon). Well, I did do some blog reading (hey, I’m here, aren’t I???!!!), and some tweeting. Gotta do the SM stuff, right?

        :::grumbles off to the corner w/the K9:::

  2. SJ Driscoll

    Sorry about your back, Prudence. That’s a long time to have been in pain. But going back and forth, to and from writing—doesn’t that make it a constant presence in your life? Instead of something you must do for three hours straight and then can walk away from and forget. The way you cope may have helped you become productive?

  3. prudencemacleod

    Sally, I do understand about time being the enemy, I also understand the physical limitations thing. I injured my back in 1974 and ever since I dare not sit still for too long. If I get in front of the computer for too long then I suffer for days, so I write for a while, putter for a while, then return and try to regain my train of thought.
    As I always say, if ti was easy, anybody could do it. 🙂

  4. Louise Behiel

    isn’t it interesting how our attitudes about writing can affect our output? I had the same trouble – I decided i had to treat writing like work…and all the creativity left. no words for a long time.

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