January 27, 2009

Sabbatical scarf

Sabbatical scarf

My writing has always been relegated to leftover bits of time — a few minutes here and there — when I'm not teaching or going to meetings or caring for kids or doing housework or spending time with family members. When my kids were younger, I wrote poetry because it was easy to pull a poem up on the computer screen to work on it when I had a minute or two. Most of my blog posts are written while my kids are at music lessons and I’m sitting in the car, waiting for them. Writing has always been something I’ve done during stolen moments.

The most difficult part of being on sabbatical has been sitting down at my desk and giving myself permission to work on a manuscript without that nagging feeling that I should be doing something else. I have to keep reminding myself, “I’m on sabbatical. I’m SUPPOSED to be writing.”

So I’ve developed some rituals to make space for myself. One thing I’m doing is charting my progress — writing down what I accomplish each day. I’m not counting by words, or pages, or chapters, but simply writing down how much time I spent working on the manuscript. And I’m giving myself an hour in the morning to catch up on emails, eat breakfast, and meditate before I begin.

And then there is my sabbatical scarf — a long, beautiful, crazy scarf made by Blogger Who Loves Cake. After my husband and kids leave for school each morning, I get dressed, put on the scarf, and sit down at my desk. Every time I look down at the lovely lunatic fringe, it reminds me that no, I don't need to do housework, no, I don't need to respond to emails, no, I don't need to make a plan for supper. The scarf is my reminder that yes, I can spend this time writing and NOT TAKE CARE OF EVERYONE ELSE.

It's a wonderful, warm reminder.

ETA: For everyone who has emailed me to ask about the scarf, she does sell them at her Etsy shop. Here is the link.

23 comments:

Heidi said...

I love that scarf! Are those feathers? Or just fabric?

jo(e) said...

Yeah, isn't it cool? They look like feathers, but the fringe is really just all yarn and ribbon and fabric that dangles wonderfully.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

WOW! What a GREAT scarf and what a GREAT idea. I love the scarf, so pretty and so arty!

I am glad yr writing! YAY! YAY!

I am back to working on the Frog Haven Novel.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I love that scarf! Thanks for the reminder that I should create some kind of special routine to help me focus on writing. I did that when I was working on my MA thesis (I sometimes wore a tiara) and it worked well for me.

Songbird said...

It's a fabulous scarf; what a great and tangible reminder of what you are doing with this time!

BlackenedBoy said...

It's nice to have nothing to do but write, isn't it?

What's your book about?

susan said...

Everyone needs a sabbatical scarf--what a great gift.

susan said...

And can I just say, the idea of a tiara for writing also rocks!

OneTiredEma said...

Amazing.

Rana said...

That is a FAB scarf. (And people dare say you're not fashionable. Pffft!)

jo(e) said...

BB: The manuscript is a book of creative non-fiction about my connection to the landscape. Some of the pieces began as blog posts. It's got an ecofeminist slant to it.

chip said...

wish I'd had a sabbatical scarf... maybe next time. Glad to hear the ms. is coming along!

YourFireAnt said...

I'm impressed, Jo(e).

It is hard having nothing to do but write. I can't do it. There needs to be other things that need doing. Always.

FA

Zhoen said...

The Five Thousand Scarf of Writing as Jo(e).

(To badly paraphrase Dr. Seuss.)

What Now? said...

I love the idea of a writing ritual that signals "Yes, it's now time to write, so I wrap myself in comfort and beauty and nurture myself through my writing."

bsouth said...

That's an amazing scarf - beautiful. Good luck with your writing - enjoy your sabbatical!

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

That's an awesome scarf, and it is SO you!

Silver Creek Mom said...

OMG I love that Scarf! I always on the look out for neat scarfs or cool jewerly.

I understand how hard it is to give youself permssion to do something for yourself outside of the family. Men don't seem to have that trouble we we nuturers do.
(Not a critism guys...just different ways of looking at it)

GO Jo(e) you can do it...
We all want to read what you bring to life through your talent and art.

Hugs
One who should be painiting again

liz said...

I love the scarf and I love that you wear it when doing your sabbatical work. It reminds me of another Jo(no e), the one whose hat was an indicator of how her writing vortex was going and whether genius burned.

Writer Chica said...

Fabulous scarf!! And the dedicated writing time sounds even more fabulous!

Helen said...

The idea of the scarf that leads you to a regular working habit at home is wonderful and it really inspires me. I have been struggling to keep pushing my own work 'at home' while handling every daily life as a mom, wife, and piano teacher. I will adopt your 'scarf idea' for my work.
I am writing in Korean on my blog, wishing to publish a book with part of the essays in the future, like you. I have really been enjoying your meditative essays and photos since the first visit by chance. So happy to find you and your blog!

Leslie F. Miller said...

I can't believe I missed this! Well, I just love you and your my scarf. I hope I'll pick up your book one day.

My writing timer was a page. I had to write a page, but if I finished a page and had more to say, I kept writing. If I had seven pages by the end of the week, I didn't have to write on the weekends, but if I had eight, it wouldn't get me out of writing any other days. I had to work on a page, at least, every Monday through Friday. Sometimes I did so much research that I worked nine hours and only wrote a page. But a page a day for a year adds up to a manuscript!

Gawdess said...

gorgeous!