My 2014 Epiphany


Vicki Doudera here with you on this sleeting Friday in February.  What a wild winter it has been.  I love the fact that Spring is only ten days away (oops, wishful thinking – it’s 28 days away), but of course in Maine that’s pretty meaningless.  Add another 30 days, and that’s just about when spring seems to arrive in these parts.

Despite these grumblings, I actually enjoy winter for several reasons – I love to ski and snowshoe (did a beautiful early morning shoe up the back side of Ragged Mountain yesterday with my friend Susan, and Hoover, of course), I love winter foods – such as soups and stews – and I love the quieter, more introspective pace of the season.  It seems to be when I am most prone to having my REALLY BIG THOUGHTS.

Here’s the one that came most recently.  It occurred to me that I am one of those people who are “all over the map.”  Not only do I hold down another job as a Realtor (and pretty successfully too) but my writing career right now is full of so many projects that every time I name them, I forget one or two.

I won’t go into all the details, but basically I have contracts for two books, due at the end of this year, I have a completed holiday novel that I’m deciding what to do with, I’m working on a project with my daughter (a musical!) and have a short story and an anthology of essays in the works.

And the launch of DEAL KILLER (which just got a great review in Publishers Weekly! Yay!) and my story in the ICE COLD anthology.

Crazy?  Some would say so.

Now factor in that I am a person who likes to be busy, a woman who has always enjoyed a rather full schedule, and – if you believe at all in astrology – that I am a Gemini. In fact, my corporation is called Gemini Diversified.

So here’s the recent light bulb moment. I had the sudden thought that this scattered kind of work style is who I am, that I should stop trying to fight it (in other words, ignore the nagging voice that says, “You need to focus, Vicki!”) and instead embrace it.  Hey – if you can’t fight city hall, you probably can’t fight your own 52 year old personality, right?

So I’ve decided to allow myself to go off on all my directions, with the stipulation that I must remain accountable.  I must get things accomplished.  Luckily, I love to cross things off lists, so I think this approach will work.

Let’s face it – I was doing it anyway!  My “epiphany” has more to do with acceptance than a whole new way of operating in the world.

My question to you, especially those of you involved in multiple projects, (yes Kathy/Kaitlyn, talking to you!) is how do you keep them all moving forward? Many lists? A giant whiteboard?  What keeps all the multicolored balls in the air?

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12 Responses to My 2014 Epiphany

  1. Mary says:

    I’m a Gemini too so I know what you’re talking about.

    Use the stove. It’s right there in the kitchen where it is handy. Get some fresh porcelain board markers and “presto” you can make notes, write down phone numbers, and prepare meals all at the same time. During a statewide project which required hundreds of volunteers I not only wrote all over the top of the old white electric stove, but down the front as well. People who don’t utilize their stoves as memo pads are missing one of the multi-tasker’s biggest helpers!

    • Hello Mary my Gemini friend!
      Yes, you do know of what I speak! I like your stovetop system! Right now my husband does most of the cooking but if that ever changes I’m going to try your idea.

      As it is I have notebooks everywhere — as did Agatha Christie!

  2. Lea Wait says:

    Sounds as though you have all those wolves on leashes! And .. congratulations on your wonderful Publishers Weekly review this week! Write On!

  3. Judy says:

    I would never have considered the stove, and I have a mini one (built for children, I think) in my senior apt. But I do have notebooks where I rearrange furniture within my 500 sq. ft. “suite” (the pieces I can move on my own and some I can’t) and lists of books I’ve read. I think meditation is too slow for me yet it can add balance to one’s life. I’ll have to live to be 100 before I get around to all the things I’d like to accomplish. I say, plod on if it’s working for you but don’t forget to breathe! I’ll check back for more comments and inspiration.

  4. Hi, Vicki,
    I’d have answered this sooner, but the storm knocked out our Internet connection just as I was about to answer you. Anyway, here goes.
    For me it’s lists. Lots and lots of lists. The 5×8 lined note tablet next to my keyboard has two sections. The top is for things that don’t have to be done right away day but should be done soon. Currently on that list are “send check for Malice Domestic SinC breakfast,” “vacuum bedroom,” and “put reversion of audio rights on last three Face Down novels in safe deposit box at bank.” Some of the items in this section stay there for a verrry loooong time, especially the ones that have to do with housework! The bottom half of the pad has daily lists. Today’s read “continue Liss #9,” “proof short story,” “add to March blogs,” (I have two in progress), “stretches,” and, after I got around to reading today’s MCW, “post comment to Vicki’s blog.” I’ve written those items out here but in reality they’re full of abbreviations, some of which no one but me would be able to interpret. I cross each item off as I complete it. If something doesn’t get done one day, it shifts down to the next day’s list. I haven’t gotten to those March blogs yet today, and I may not. Things that aren’t on the list, like making supper and feeding the cats and watching the news may get in the way, plus I usually run out of steam by this time of day (late afternoon). The two items that appear on each day’s list are “continue Liss#9” (or whatever the current major project is) and “stretches.” It’s probably not necessary to write either one down, since the current project is the one I work on first every morning and I do about 45 minutes of stretching and stationary cycling every day except Sunday, but there’s something about crossing off an item that just feels good.

    Sometimes my lists are much longer, but I’ve noticed that when I have too many things that all need to be done at once my usual reaction is not to do any of them. The only solution I’ve found to that problem is to plan waaay ahead, which is why I’m working on the book due in September now and writing my March blogs in February.


    • So interesting, Kathy! I do think the lists are the key. I have thought of a whiteboard, but I don’t really like them — I like paper. I like what you said about if a list is too long you might get overwhelmed — me, too. Manageable bites are what are always recommended!

      I’m going to really study your advice because if anyone’s got this juggling thing down, it’s you!

  5. Lots of files. Fortunately, most of them can be electornic now. I *do* like to focus–really get stuck into a project and stay there. But at the moment, each of the 3 series I try to keep going is in need of a new book–and all of them will be set in England. That means one giant research trip in June. Sooo all 3 books have to be plotted and research sites identified and worked into an itinerary. Balls in the air, yes. I try to do it by focusing on one book for a week at a time, then letting it rest while I plug away at another plot. Wish me luck!

  6. Barb Ross says:

    I’m just the opposite. I love doing one thing to completion. I always have a book I’m reading, only one book and I read it to the end before I start a new one. People who have half a dozen books going bamboozle me.

    I also prefer one task at a time, which makes writing a book difficult to juggle with–anything else including normal life. Of course, as a parent and as an executive for 20 years I had to multi-task–but I hated it.

    Weirdly enough the key for me to managing is exactly the same as for oh so opposite you. My to-do list, which keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by all those things I do NOT want to be doing.

    • So funny you used the word “bamboozle” as I am writing a story with that word right now!

      Barb — your focusing seems to work for you, and that’s the whole key. As Bernard Malamud once said “you have to crack you.”

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