Working on a Deadline and Harry Potter's Cat

[Image: working on the Rebel Heart manuscript at a local co-working space in Mammoth Lakes.]

[Image: working on the Rebel Heart manuscript at a local co-working space in Mammoth Lakes.]

Hey all!

If you follow me on social media you probably saw that I’m taking a break to finish the edits on the Rebel Heart manuscript.

I was supposed to have finished these the week I was in Los Angeles and San Diego but instead I wrote my heart out and ended up with over 4,000 words of another #MeToo piece. I was too exhausted after writing about past trauma and how it still affects and even informs my parenting today to tackle the edits then so I’ve set myself a new deadline. Wednesday is my goal but I’m allowing myself the grace of Friday as a final cut off.

Working on a deadline when you also have a full time job and you have a husband and two kids is not easy. 

In his book the War of Art, Steven Pressfield says, ‘the aspiring artist must be ruthless.’ I think about that word a lot. Ruthlessness. Ruthlessness in order to make art. Art you want to be published that is. Working on a deadline means not seeing your family much. It means the moment your kids are home from school and you finish your day job, you pack up your computer and go to the local co-working space and open your computer and start using your brain differently. 

It’s hard for me to switch between a day job doing technical writing and software engineering support to one where I’m editing a memoir about meeting and falling in love with my husband, sailing on the sea pregnant and with kids, an ocean rescue, crazy family members, and all the fallout that happened after. I’ve found when I have to switch between worlds like this that I often sit down with the Rebel Heart book and pretend it’s someone else’s book. If I don’t, I get too emotionally invested and it’s hard to switch back to day-to-day reality. (This is also why I like to go away to write, so I don’t have to keep flipping between words.)

But I’m working on a deadline. So I have to be ruthless. Ruthless means telling your friend you can’t celebrate her birthday for another 10 days because you are writing on a self-imposed deadline and then your husband is out town after that. It’s hoping she understands.

It’s telling a lot of people no. It’s no, no, no. No to activities and opportunities because you are saying yes to your deadline.

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I did say yes to a pre-scheduled Halloween party last night at our house. I was so tempted to cancel it. Not because I don’t love my friends and family but because I was deep in part two of the manuscript, when then parajumpers had just arrived on the boat and in the midst of trying to care for our sick daughter they all got horribly seasick. Then my alarm rang to tell me I had to flip modes. It was time to go home and make a wintery bacon cheddar chowder soup and dress up as Harry Potter’s mother and be in mom and Halloween mode and I almost cried Uncle. It’s hard to walk between two worlds, the creative writer and the caring mother. 

I did it though. I made the soup with the soundtrack I listen to while I’m writing playing in my head and five minutes before guests arrived my husband, Eric, got a Search and Rescue (SAR) call out and he had to be ruthless too because helping people in tough situations is his calling, like writing is mine. So he left the party before it started and headed out into a cold night to find someone in trouble. He said no to the party and yes to SAR and I supported him entirely.

Our guests arrived thereafter. Here you can see my oldest as Harry Potter, our friend’s daughter as a veterinarian, and my youngest as Harry Potter’s cat :)

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Eric didn’t roll in until 5:00am this morning so I handled the morning routine. Now it’s time to check in with my day job and the moment I can, I’ll pack up my bags and head to the co-working space to work into the evening hours on this deadline because the aspiring artist must be ruthless.

Here’s hoping my brain can handle it all.

What are you being ruthless about? What are you saying yes to? What are you saying no to?

All the best,

Charlotte


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This IS My Smiling Face

Charlotte Kaufman staring at camera

I really, truly thought I was smiling when I took this picture. It was only after I looked at it in the photo album that I realized that currently, this is my smiling face.

It’s a grimace that I smear upwards. 

A few days ago my neighbor saw me walking down the street and stopped his car to say hello. People do that in this small town. They wave. They slow to talk. He rolled his windows down and I nodded at his daughter in the back seat too.

We chatted about the weather, about the other neighbor who drives too fast on our street, and about upcoming Halloween parties. We have a family costume theme we are doing with the girls (all of us will be characters from Harry Potter), but there are a few parties for adults happening in the next few weeks so we talked about costumes for those. 

My anxiety has been building thinking about attending them. When I went to these parties in 2016 there were people dressed as Trump, as in PRO-Trump. I can only imagine how many little Brett Kavanaughs will be cavorting triumphantly at the upcoming shindigs. I already don’t like going to big loud parties with lots of people I don’t know, especially people who might be openly flaunting how happy they are about a sexual predator being both in the White House and the Supreme Court. 

My neighbor talked about the costume he’d been sewing together for weeks (Mammoth residents are super into their costumes in this town). Then he asked me, “What are you gonna be?”

I blurted out, "I’m gonna be furious.”

He paused. “Fu-riosa? Furious?”

“I’m going to dress as myself and when people ask me what I am I’ll say, ‘I’m furious.’”

His daughter raised her head from the book she was reading in the back of the car and regarded me then. I thought, if you aren’t furious yet, sister, you will be.

I added, “You know, sign of the times.”

He began to nod, understanding.

My awkwardness ended our conversation. He smiled. I did the grimace that I’m smearing across my face and we parted ways. 

The yellow and gold aspen leaves lightly clicked on the asphalt as they fell. My feet tread across them and even stepped on, they were beautiful in their final glory.

What will you be for Halloween? Because I’m furious. 


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Angry Heart and a Chest Cold

No makeup, poor lighting, chest cold – selfie.

No makeup, poor lighting, chest cold – selfie.

Hello friends,

Has anyone else been cycling through despondency and anger with the circus of the Kavanaugh hearings so fresh in our hearts and minds? Because I have. I don’t have many words of comfort nowadays. What I do have is an awakened sense of urgency. To speak out, speak up. To not be quiet or let moments of correction slip by because it would be more comfortable and easier to say nothing.

So I write, and I fight, and I keep going. Even with this chest cold, I’m writing. I’m submitting the long #MeToo piece I wrote in Los Angeles, the one about raising daughters in the #MeToo era for publication. I’ll keep you posted. I’m writing another piece about how sexual abuse and sexual assault has far reaching effects and results in lifelong trauma. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day to express all the thoughts and words in my head.

Through it all, I work on (and am almost done) with my round of edits for the Rebel Heart book. 

Back to my first sentence, if you find yourself like me, circling between despondency and anger, I recommend following Margo Stebbing and Isabel Abbott on Patreon. I find their words and works sustaining. 

Stay strong,

Charlotte


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