I’ve had a bit of a strange week. Up until last Friday, I thought I’d be going with my family to the Outer Banks for the week (my husband’s extended family rented a house). I was feeling rather stressed about the whole thing. My husband has been traveling a lot, plus we’ve got some nanny vacation coming up and the like. I planned to do some work at the beach, but I knew that would be difficult, and I also knew what I needed was long stretches of time to concentrate and think about what my book still lacked. Eventually we decided that my husband would take the kids and I’d stay home.
So I’ve spent the past week solo. It has been interesting to see how I operate with no kids around. I didn’t really sleep in (ok, I slept until 8 one day). I kind of liked getting up at 6 or 6:30 and starting work immediately. I’d work 5-6 hours, take a break, work on and off in the afternoon, and then generally do another long shift at night. I can do the morning shift in my normal life, but the evening one rarely happens, so it was interesting to see that I do feel fairly productive during it. I know this — I wrote What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast in a coffee shop at night. And yet since I use that time so rarely I’ve kind of put it out of my mind.
I liked being able to take lengthy breaks and know that I would still be able to come back to my work for as long as I wanted. Going for a run wasn’t a choice that I’d be able to work for just an hour when I returned. I could keep going. I also liked having space to think about things, come back to them, think some more, and come back to them again. I made a few new calculations — like the exact number of days out of 1001 featuring fewer than 7 hours of sleep, and the exact number featuring fewer than 6 hours. Any guesses?
To be sure, I didn’t just work. I went out for dinner with a friend one night, and went for a run with another one afternoon. I used the free massage gift certificate I won in the silent auction last April. I went for a number of walks.
I decided to track my work hours just to answer a question — do I work more without the kids? Yes… with caveats. I’m writing this on Friday afternoon, and I’m currently at 58 hours for the week. I’ll do some more before they return, so I’ll be in the low-60s. I’ve hit 55 during time diary weeks before. But normally it’s more like 45-50.
However, it’s not only the kids that can lower totals. Life intervenes. We had some intense thunderstorms, and we lost power for 21 hours from Thursday to Friday. I’m just getting back to my computer around 4:00 p.m. on Friday after being off it since yesterday evening. I did a lot of reading and picking up the house and figuring out what I could eat without a microwave or stove (answer: I could walk to the grocery store one half mile from my house and buy a sandwich. At least it was open! My garage door was not open — so that was another problem).
I also managed to sprain (or at least twist) my ankle on Monday. This could have been much more disastrous, so I’m happy it was just mildly painful. I was out for a trail run and hit a rock or log or something. I felt my ankle bend wrong. Fortunately, I was able to walk out, because otherwise I would have been in a bit of a pickle. It swelled a bit, and I didn’t run for 72 hours, but I was able to run on Thursday again. Phew.
I was mostly able to concentrate on what I needed to get done, but I missed the kids a lot. There’s a reason I haven’t chosen this as my lifestyle — productive as it may be! I was also pretty worried toward the latter half of the week as it became clear that Hurricane Arthur was headed right at my babies. They were on the northern part of the Outer Banks so it wasn’t a direct hit, but I think it was quite the storm. Fortunately, I lost power so I couldn’t keep watching the Weather Channel and obsessing! They were fine and — irony alert! — they didn’t lose power. Unlike me. Go figure. Now it’s back on, and well be re-uniting soon.
Have you ever had an extended period of time on your own at your house? Or have you ever taken a writing or editing retreat?
Photo: The porch couch. I do a lot of writing and editing here.