Just returned from the annual August tour de famille on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Well, that’s not really true. We’ve been back since August 26. Really late in the evening on August 25, but our keys were with my husband, and he wasn’t with us. So we arrived at baggage claim at SFO only to realize that it was midnight, and we didn’t have keys to our humble abode.

This event symbolized our August. But now that we’re back, what is my excuse for being late to the post?

Overcommitment. You know you’re overcommitted when you can’t recall what you’re supposed to do next because there are too many things competing for “next.” And overcommitment stalls my forward movement.

I’m working on picture book fiction and nonfiction and literary short stories in addition to giving my novel-in-training some gas. I’ve got two kidlit writing groups in addition to the dogs at the patch. I’m taking a nonfiction picture book writing class where I’m supposed to have a first draft to critique in two weeks. But I just discovered last night that my topic is too complex (or at least the way I’ve envisioned it right now) to move forward, so I spent the evening last night looking for a new subject.  When I originally signed up for the class, I was going to do a biography, but it turned out that the living person I want to write a biography about is wary of saying “yes.” Sooooo, how many times can I go back to the drawing board?


And it’s a new school year with many library liaison activities, including planning for an author visit, creating a new library “wish list,” and getting new library volunteers up to speed on working with classes.

And new afterschool activities every night of the week. And….I’m supposed to be volunteering for Litquake and visiting my new writing group that meets North of SF.

And then there was the unexpected death of my mother-in-law the night of my father-in-law’s memorial in mid-August that continues to haunt me. I’m not sure if haunt is the right word, unless an intermittent replay of the middle-of-the night knock on the window and subsequent events qualifies. It does explain why my husband wasn’t with us when we returned without keys. He (the guy with the keys) took a side trip to his parents’ home to get things in order.

But I’m a writer, right? And I’m supposed to be getting something done. But at the moment, I’m not doing anything well. Getting anything finished, polished. I run from one thing to the next, often without making a single edit. Just enough time to get started before I’ve got to move on to something else.

The center cannot hold. And I wonder if there are writers out there who work best like this? If there are, I wish I were one of them. But I am not, and I have to make some changes. I hope everyone else out there is being more productive than I am right now.



Filed under Rants

13 responses to “Overcommitment

  1. I’ve tried posting a comment 3x… can’t type it all again. I hope you are able to find some peace, amidst all of these enormous challenges. I’m so sorry for your losses. I am always trying to juggle too much, and keep my head above water, but sometimes we really need to just say “enough,” and heal.

    • I wonder what’s going on with WP, and I’m sorry you had such trouble posting here. I want to thank you for your perseverance and kind words. I think you’re right. Sometimes you just have to stop and take a breather. I’m trying to do that. It’s not going very well at the moment. but I keep trying. Thank you!

      • It’s all about boundaries and learning to let go… of expectations, outcomes, and more expectations. I wish I’d known twenty-five years ago, the things I understand now. Limits, boundaries, breathing… it’s so important! You have just suffered two very hard losses, one of them (sounds like) a traumatic loss. Healing is so important. It’s so easy to just keep pushing on, but generally you pay for that at some point.

        Your post really resonated with me, because I’ve been there… as so many of have. I hope you find your own balance. It’s so tough!

  2. Your post is so timely, Jill, because lately I have been working a little harder to respect my own time and realizing, for the umpteenth time, how very easy it is to get spread thin by things we both can and cannot control. I am bad at saying no to invitations, e-mail, pop-up ads, you name it. This weekend I turned off my phone for an entire day for the first time in a long while. It was a reminder of how little things can help in the midst of so many demands, for me, resisting the urge to be a fast text/phone/e-mail answerer, or more to the point, resisting the urge to worry about whether there was a message there to begin with. I have no solid answers for anyone about how to avoid spread-thinness, but if you drop one thing off your to do list, maybe it will inspire you to drop a couple more. Then we can not call each other about it. 🙂

  3. In the midst of the commitment storm, sometimes it’s best to just head for the eye. Take a walk, narrow the list of musts down to what’s critical (really critical) and don’t worry about the world collapsing around you. It won’t. You have reasons for being overwhelmed and letting people know is a good start. Oh, and don’t forget to breathe.

  4. Goodness, you have got a lot on your plate! I felt like that in the last few weeks, finishing off my essays and dissertation, but I’m done now! I missed my blogging interactions and am just getting back into them now. Hope things settle down a bit for you soon, when you have too much like that, you just carry round this constant feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something (and probably you have!).

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