5:40 AM I am awake for no reason that I know. I try to decide whether I’m awake for the day, or if I can catch a bit of sleep. If I get up now, I could work for more than an hour on my book before breakfast. I go back to sleep.
7:00 AM I get up for reals. There is not much for me to do. My program of planned obsolescence is nearly complete. The Adolescent is nudged from his slumber. The husband has already made toast. I do not know this, but there are only four pieces of toast left. The Boy eats none of them. I eat three. My husband accuses me of eating his breakfast. “Sorry,” I say, munching. I reload the dishwasher and feed the dogs while the Husband ferries the Boy to school. Courage has a burgeoning hotspot on his paw, so I medicate him and fit him with The Boot of Shame. He is unappreciative.
8:00 AM So many emails. Things have gone wrong with one of my feature articles. I was to interview five experts, and finished my article by today, Jan. 31. But my experts have been slippery. They have been unreachable and unresponsive and unavailable and in one case inconsiderate. I ping everything that needs pinging, and waste some time on Livejournal and Twitter and Facebook. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.
9:00 AM Time to work on my novel, but there are many distractions. The internet beckons. (Why don’t I just turn it off?) Two cats have stopped by my keyboard demanding attention. I get about 300 words written before it is magically–
10:00 AM Morning meeting. It’s a slow news day. We chew each piece of it like bones from last night’s feast. An issue is planned from the meager scraps we have. My assignment is to work on an evergreen story that we keep going on the back burner for just such an occasion.
10:30 AM I have an interview appointment with one of my wayward experts. I had an interview scheduled with him yesterday at the same time, but he never answered his phone. I am proud that I have figured out how to convert the Belgian ’00′ number to an intercontinental ’011′ number. I have specialized knowledge! Sadly, my specialized knowledge avails me none. Again my expert does not answer his phone. At 10:45, I declare defeat. He is traveling, and it is very hard to catch people when they’re traveling.
11:00 AM I am writing my evergreen story. I did the interview more than a month ago. It is not fresh in my mind. I go over my notes trying to recapture the thread of the story. I need a headline and a lede, but everything I think of is lame.
11:45 Change of plan. A new story came in over the wire, and it’s mine. Time to shift gears. I have just thought of a lede for the evergreen story I was working on. My brain, once reluctant, has now captured the thread, but I have to let go of it again. Tomorrow, maybe.
12:15 I dial in for a teleconference for the new story. A new drug has been approved. First disease-modifying drug for a terrible disease: cystic fibrosis. There’s a catch. There’s always a catch. It will only help 4 percent of patients, and it will only improve their symptoms 10 percent. Still, not bad. I have a question, so, greatly daring, I press *1 to ask it when Q and A opens.
1:00 PM I have listened to 500 people ask questions ahead of me, but my name never came up. How fast must people punch *1 that I was 501 in line? Oh, well. I email my question and get on with my work. I hastily compose a headline and first paragraph to send to the editor as a teaser. Then I find my husband in the dining room. “I need to get out of here,” I say.
1:30 PM We have lunch at a nearby deli. I tell him I have suddenly realized I am a terrible writer and will never amount to anything. He talks me out of it. I eat a sandwich and a pickle and some Fritos and Diet Coke. I feel better.
2:15 PM How did it get to be so late? Now I have to finish the article and get it turned in by 4. I start typing. I have new headphones, so I listen to some music. They are wireless, and I discover I can go to the bathroom without taking them off.
3:45 PM I proof my article and turn it in. 932 words.
4:00 PM My other editor sends me a new list of experts to contact, to replace the ones that were unresponsive and unavailable and in one case inconsiderate. I make calls and send emails.
4:15 PM Glen is home from school and we all walk the dogs. The weather is unseasonably warm and the dogs are grateful.
4:45 PM I remember that it is Jan. 31, and I must invoice. So I invoice.
5:00 PM I have only written 300 words on my novel today. I am in the home stretch and am starting to think I might die of frustration if I can’t finish it soon. I scold myself that I must stay in my chair, at my workstation, until I have written 1000 words. I attempt to dodge my own ultimatum by surfing the web, but the web sucks. I despair because I don’t know what happens next, so I lay down on the floor. Athena the Kitten wonders why I am on the floor. Am I dead? She carefully and thoroughly licks the bridge of my nose. Then my eyelid. I am resentful of my novel and disappointed in my skill as a novelist. If I were any good, I would know what happens next. Then, very gradually, I realize I do. I get up and sit in my chair and write until I have 1240 words.
6:00 PM I emerge and dinner is ready. It is baked spaghetti, made from leftovers of a previous spaghetti meal. That’s fine with me. A glass of wine appears. I drink it. We eat and talk. I am behind on the reading I committed to in order to nominate for the Nebula and Hugo awards, so I dutifully sit and read on my Nook. I start one story after another, and quit, dissatisfied, until I find one that draws me in. My husband is reading, too. He has his laptop and is reading my novel. The same one I am working on. He has read 40,000 words in one day. I take that as a good sign. I drink another glass of wine.
8:00 PM The day is finally over. I think. I will watch some TV and think about the taxes and the bills I should have paid today. (It is the 31st, isn’t it?) There is laundry to fold and the cat boxes are dirty again. In the kitchen, someone is apparently making brownies. By 10 PM, if all goes well, I will be in bed.