Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Day in the Life: Janci Patterson

My day goes like this:

At 8 AM I get out of bed and go downstairs in my pajamas and sit at my computer for two hours while my husband takes care of my daughter and gets his internet work done for the day.  During those two hours, I write.

Except for when my day goes like this:

At 9 AM I roll out of bed, exhausted, stumble downstairs for the hour that I have left of my so-called writing time, and stare at the internet for thirty minutes only reminding myself that I'm supposed to be writing when my husband brings my daughter down to feed her breakfast.

Day #1 proceeds like this:

After my writing is done, I finish up any internet housekeeping things--blogs to post, emails to answer, etc.  Then I spend half an hour cleaning up my house, carrying my eight-month old baby from room to room so she has new scenery to explore as I work.  After that I ship packages for my husband's business.  I might do some accounting.  I read books to the baby.  I do some painting work.  I feed the baby, and change her diaper, and put her down for a nap, during which I get more writing done.

But Day #2 drags on like this:

The baby gets fed.  Her diapers get changed.  I drag myself through some chores--or I don't, and I watch as the kitchen gathers dishes.  I lie down on the floor and let the baby crawl all over me, which is her favorite game, but I don't get up and get anything else done.  I might make a phone call, but probably I just think about calling and then don't.  I think I'll write when I put the baby down for her nap, but she picks this day to refuse to nap, so instead I spend half an hour listening to her scream so my brain is so noisy by the time she's asleep that I spend the thirty brief minutes of silence still thinking I'm hearing her cry.  I think about writing at the same moment I hear her begin to wake up.

On Day #1, the evening goes like this:

By the time my husband finishes work, I've also finished my to-do list.  The baby is happy and clean and dressed adorably.  We all go to the mall and spend $1.50 on Sees chocolates and walk around the game stores without buying anything.  If there's a new exhibit, maybe we go to the art gallery upstairs.  When we get home, my husband puts the baby to bed, and then we play video games, or paint miniatures, or some combination of the two.  I can relax, because work got done, life is happy, and everything went as it should.

But by this time, Day #2 looks like this:

I am so stressed by the time my husband's work day ends that I want to curl up into a ball.  I got nothing done today.  My brain twists itself into a knot and believes that nothing will ever get done again.  We spend the evening catching up on the urgent work that should have gotten done.  One of us does chores while the other puts the baby to bed.  In the evening there might be more feverish catch-up, or there might be a collapse into video games.  I go to bed afraid that every day will look like this for the rest of my life.

But you never know.  Tomorrow could always be Day #1.  And some days, luckily, it is. 

Janci Patterson's first novel, CHASING THE SKIP, will be released from Henry Holt on October 2nd, 2012.  She lives in Orem, UT with her family.  

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