First Cup of Coffee – March 15, 2022

Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee. Oh that’s so good. Today is Tuesday March fifteenth if you’re on video you will see that I actually have a latte if you’re on audio only you probably heard how much happy I have that made no sense. How happy I am to have my latte I am um, doing things slightly out of bounce today because I am in my health marathon finally getting all of these things handled like a responsible adult. Ah, usually don’t go in for the adulting thing but this feels very much adulting. So um I get to have a colonoscopy tomorrow afternoon a girl never forgets her first colonoscopy. um yeah it’s um I don’t know if it’s even a funny story but I feel like it’s a funny story I may tell you guys this story? Um, but it’s not writing related but the the short the tl tl deal. Tiol didn’t listen. Is that I um have to do the fasting for the colonoscopy these rituals of getting older. It’s just one of those you know you’re supposed to do it when you hit a certain age and. So I can’t eat anything solid after 10 a m today and my appointment’s not till three o’clock tomorrow afternoon. So I figured id better go ahead and have my breakfast if I were doing my sixteen eight fasting thing I wouldn’t get to eat till like noon. So I figured well. Last solid food for more than 24 hours I’ll take advantage so I figured that means I get to have my latte small reward make you sure I didn’t smear my lip pencil. There. So.

So I’ll I’ll tell you this this story because I think it’s funny so I’m seeing this new general practitioner he had ordered you know all these things I had to do mammogram bone density colonoscopy you know, joy joy and. Yeah they’d said the physician’s assistant when she gave me in New Mexico we get doctor’s orders you have to have like an order from a gp to go see a specialist. Maybe they do that everywhere did we did not have to do it in Wyoming so it was a real adjustment when we came here that was like you have to have a doctor’s order to do anything. So when she handed me the order she had said um I guess they’re not very good about getting back to people so just keep calling I was like oh okay so I call get their voicemail and I’m you know ready to leave a message and. Their voicemail is incredibly long. You know and they say leave a message with your you know referring physician and your name and your date of birth and the reason for the procedure. It’s like gestural enterology associates and. And they said do not leave more than 1 voicemail only leave one voicemail and we will call you back in within five business days I was like wow five business days okay so I leave the message with all of the information as instructed. And Mark it on my calendar for like five business days later and I even went business days took out the weekend and any relevant holidays to tag back reader. They did not call me back. So I even gave them a couple extra days I think because I didn’t feel like. Calling you know how that is right? and it’s like oh I do and can’t make phone calls today. So then I called them back and I get the same message. So I say I left a previous message. No I’m not supposed to but nobody called me back in the five business days and I noticed they also had something on there when they said or you can stop by our offices at reader. They did not call me back so I was like okay yesterday afternoon I had to go in for my fiscal and I thought since I’m going to be in that kind of general neighborhood. It’s not a big town I live outside of town but it’s still only like fifteen twenty minutes but you know I treat it like I’m going on an arctic expedition once a year coil are out there this morning. So.

I Go to the doctor and actually everything’s great. My blood work is great. Everything is wonderful. Much much Physician Love which surprised me because I thought I was I don’t know.

That’s actually another story off to decide if I’m going to tell you guys that so he says you know any trouble with any of the other tests and I said well I said to gastroenterology people. I left them a couple of voicemails and they’ve never gotten back to me and and he’s kind of a serious gentle guy and I could see behind him the I don’t know what to aid I’m not sure I don’t know if she was a p a or what but she said she was very sweet but she was in there because I had to have a. You know pelvic of the examined papin stuff so she was she was like I’ll be your chaperone today. But so I could see her behind him when she kind of closes her eyes and shakes her head a little bit and I I just know that this is a thing right? They’re just never calling anybody back ever and he’s like oh. Yeah, he says you know they’ve had trouble since the pandemic and I’m thinking this is not pandemic. This is like something else and he says but you can’t stop by in person and I thought and I said actually that’s what I’ve planning to do today I had my order in the car and I’m just going to stop by there. So. So I do I stop by there and step in the door and there’s a sort of a receptionist and there’s 1 guy gal talking the receptionist and she says um, hi ma’am do you have an appointment and I said ah. No, and she said are you here to schedule an appointment and I said yes and she said okay, sit here behind the divider and you know so like our mask mandate is lifted this place acts like we are you know, major height of pandemic thing. They sta the dividers up they have the. Caution tape across the every other chair. It’s not that I’m against it. But it’s sort of like everybody every other place has opened up a lot more. You know like the the doctor’s office I was just in doesn’t have the social distancing on the chairs anymore you have to. There’s a little screaming machine that you have to like verify that you don’t have covid and haven’t been around anywhere from that covid and you put a sticker you know, verifying that your visitor for the day but you know and they have some of the dividers but this place is like crazy right? so. So I go and sit behind the divider in my chair next to the caution shape take chair and displaces like tomb. You guys. It’s empty and and they have big signs like on the outside too saying procedures are not done here and I’m like what do they do in this office. So the receptionist this other gal comes out.

And she said do you need to schedule an appointment and I said yes and she said I can help you with that so she takes me back so we sort of wents through this cubicle farm which is empty. She’s sitting at her desk and there’s a gallot another desk and I can’t there’s like There’s not phones ringing because clearly it’s all going straight to boysmail ah guys I I don’t know what anybody in this office is doing right? I mean this might be a cream puffed job if you need a job in Santa Fe where you don’t actually have to do any work. This is the job. So but so she like gets in the computer and she gets my information and she said how soon do you want to do this procedure and part of their voicemail message has this whole thing about if this is an emergency procedure ordered by your doctor. Have your doctor call directly and all this kind of thing and I said well whenever you know I don’t really care and she said well she said we could get you in this week I have openings on Wednesday Thursday and Friday afternoons this is when I stare into the camera. They have openings Wednesday Thursday and Friday afternoon I was like okay and she offers me like 6 different times 6 different openings now it’s occurred to me now that I’ve read the instructions and it’s like no eating after 10 a m today for my 3 Pm appointment tomorrow I can have clear liquids broths that sort of thing nothing purple or blue and you know you have to do the purging and all of that I was like well I’m sure most people don’t want to do those appointments in the afternoon because you know people want do it in the morning so they can eat but still I mean. It’s not like they’re so slam jam packed that they can’t be scheduling people right when David had his ah difficulties stomach stuff before Christmas. Had suggested that we also go to the gastroenterology people. So I I kind of left out that bit of backstory that I had heard this voicemail was before and they had never called back and David decided he didn’t need it so you know we didn’t pursue but ah so I was like well let’s do it Wednesday afternoon because this is a. Ah, much more relaxed week for me might as well get it done with I just I just can’t even but ah so um, you guys aren’t here to hear here to hear about my um.

Antics with the medical establishment. Um, yes, so yesterday I did get my 2000 words it felt it felt really good to only go for 2000 words it felt incredibly relaxed. I did have it my head that I needed to get to this doctor’s appointment in the afternoon. Um, which is a really funny thing and I’ve I’ve talked to a lot of people about this who have you know we’re we’re very lucky and blessed and privileged to have these. Kind of unscheduled lives where we work from home where we work for ourselves where we don’t have a really structured schedule and some people do fine with a really structured schedule. Other people do not and you I think that’s part of. Knowing what your process is and owning it I I think you have to know what kind of worker you are some people simply simply do not self direct and that’s it’s not a. Negative I mean I think it’s so tempting to think of this stuff as a negative but it’s it’s just what it is. It’s like if you have brown hair or you know, maybe you can learn to color your hair but maybe you just have brown hair. You know, maybe your hair is so dark that it doesn’t bleach out when I got my mammogram back to medical stuff the hispanic gal or the nurse was an hispanic gal and she really liked my hair color and she was and she said i. She said I don’t want to be offensive but can I ask if it’s natural and I said oh no honey was my stylist. Thank you and she said my hair doesn’t bleach out light enough for me to get that color you know and it’s hard when you have that really really naturally dark hair. Although it’s you know I I colored my hair black for a long time and I really wanted that. Glossy, rich, black like the hispanic ladies have but it sometimes you just have to take the cards you’re dealt. You have to take what you’re born with and you learn to work around it I spent a long time in my day job. Being kind of mental management for a team of people who worked across the country all working out of their homes I’ve been working out of my home for a long time even when I had the day job I started an office and then they closed that office and moved me home.

And 1 of the great take-home lessons of this was that some people do great working from home and other people do not there was this one guy who had been in the military. He’d been in a couple of branches in the military. Very sharp. Um, really. A great dynamic worker in many ways except that you he could not deal with working from home. He would slack off and we found out much later like he would log on to our company chat and then. So it would appear he was there and then he would go take a nap and then he would come and if you messaged him and he didn’t answer. He’d come back and say oh you know I was not I wasn’t looking at the chat I didn’t have you know I’ve had my head down in this document he got shit done working from home. Um, he was great when he was with a group of people. He could not make him sit down and work. You know I found out later that he was like going out and having long lunches with people. He was just like fucking around all day but that was his kind of personality. He did really well in. A more military situation which is incredibly structured where someone is telling you what to do all the time and there are many many people like this who if you want to you know if you do better in an office environment. A lot of people prefer going to an office and being there and. Now we’re all working I think some of it has to do with you know, like how gregarious of a person you are if you’re an extrovert versus an introvert I think one of the reason that so many writers and other creatives are introverts is because. We don’t need to be around people if you want to be particularly a writer I think but probably other kinds of creatives too. You spend a lot of time by yourself in your own head and introverts are happy with that. Extroverts are miserable but you can also be an introvert and still need structure. So if you are finding that and this is something that lots of writers talk about you know, even if they have the time to write. Ah, somehow they just never quite. Do you know? There’s always something else. There’s a lot of procrastinating dread and procrastination. Ah, there’s there’s just a difficulty in creating that structure. So yeah.

If you are struggling with that and I know many many people who do then you have to find a way to create that structure. You might need somebody else to tell you to do it. That’s 1 reason why Darynda and I meet on Zoom and work together. Because she really needs that I have to meet jeffie at Nine o’clock and so I can’t screw around I have to get there and I need to be there and be ready to work. It’s just something she knows about herself and she’s willing to admit about herself. So you know again, it’s not a good bad thing. It’s knowing which things in yourself. Um are not optimal for producing what you want to produce and finding ways to correct for that.

so um so yeah it did make a difference for oh that’s where I started on all this was that 1 thing that we’ve noticed for those of us who have these kind of unstructured lives where we don’t have fixed schedules. Is if we have something in the afternoon and these days I almost always have some kind of appointment in the afternoon usually an online meeting but leaving the house is worse that it creates a sense of pressure. It creates this deadline I need to get my stuff done by then even if I’m normally done by them. You know because I always tell people. I’m available after like two o’clock mountain time which gives me plenty of room to get things done theoretically. But I’m also fighting with the clock right now because of daylight savings time. So I’m a little better today. It’s um, it’s just 8 53 right now. So. I’m ah I’m working it backwards. So hopefully I’ll get um, a little bit earlier. But yeah yesterday duinda and I didn’t start writing until like nine forty five which is latish but I did get the 2000 words it felt good. It felt more relaxed. I mean do that this whole week and then reevaluate so we shall see so on that note I am going to get this uploaded and get to work I hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

How I Learned to Stop Procrastinating and Cheerfully Meet Deadlines with Room to Spare

We brought home this fresh boxwood wreath to hang on the front door and Jackson immediately inserted himself in it. For those keeping score at home, he’s just shy of eight months old now.

He’s going to be a Big Kitty.

I’m looking forward to the holiday season this year. I have ideas for decorating and even a cool homemade gift for people. I take this to mean that I’m feeling rested and the creativity is flowing. Part of this, I’ve suddenly realized, is because I changed some of my fundamental habits. What’s more is, I change a bad, lifelong habit without really realizing it.

Which is just extraordinary to me.

It’s *hard* to change habits – we all know this. Especially the bad ones. Those junk foods we crave but shouldn’t eat. That wine we shouldn’t drink nearly so much of. The TV shows we waste time on. The internet surfing when we should be working. I imagine each of us could list our top five bad habits – and then write a book on how many times we’ve tried to change them, how and why it ended up not working. (Because if it worked, it wouldn’t still be on the top five list, right?)

So, here’s one of mine: I’m a procrastinator.

Always have been. Back in school, I was the kid who wrote EVERY paper the night before it was due. I never studied until the day before the exam. (Well, the entire weekend in college for brutal classes like organic chemistry.) I once read the Iliad and the Odyssey over a couple of days during reading week before finals. Even with work, I don’t really get going on a deliverable until the deadline was breathing down my neck.

Deadline stress was my eternal motivator.

Which is awful. If you’re like me, you know just how stress-inducing this Very Bad Habit is. The late nights, the great fear that you won’t finish in time or that, if you do finish, the product will sucketh mightily.

I’ve known this about myself pretty much all my life and just hate it. And yet, over and over again, I would fall into the same pattern. Always dealing with the next fire, the next emergency. I always kind of envied the work-ahead people, but never found a way to break this habit.

Until just recently.

You know what worked? I didn’t change that particular habit, I changed other things that just happened to result in me at long last not relying on deadline pressure for motivation.

It’s like I tricked myself into operating differently. Isn’t that amazing?

I’m amazed.

So, what happened is, I had a number of writing deadlines. One was external – my first ever turn-in-your-book-by-this-date publication deadline, which I was determined not to blow – and several internal deadlines, important to me for keeping everything on track.I really, really, really did not want to be finishing that book the night before the deadline. I could not risk that it wouldn’t be as good as I needed it to be. No shortcuts, no crossing fingers, no Hail Mary’s. I wanted lots of time to get it done and get it done right.

So I planned out all my work. I finished another project that I wanted out of the way, to clear time for the one with the external deadline. I planned my dayjob work so that nothing would actually catch on fire enough to divert me. I worked in both measured paces and intense doses, depending on my time and inclination.

This was the amazing part.

I finished both projects early. Like, 7-10 days early. I’ve *never* finished anything early before in my life. Bizarrely, everything else fell into place, too. I’d wanted everything done before Thanksgiving, so I could relax and not worry about ongoing projects. I finished all my day job work by early afternoon Monday – where usually I’m working into the evening before we leave, trying to clear my desk.

At that point, I realized I had nothing on fire. Nothing that I was leaving undone.

It was miraculous.

I’d somehow learned to do my work ahead of time, in an un-stressed, no-deadline-pressure way, all because I’d restructured my other habits.

Now those of you who’ve followed my blog for a while know that I’ve long been a proponent of writing every day. I have my rituals, my good and productive habits. This overall change in my pattern of behavior grew out of that foundation. I suspect that’s key – I didn’t change everything overnight.

But I also think it’s important that I never tried to stop being a procrastinator. I changed the way I work towards a goal.

And that has made all the difference.

(with apologies to Robert Frost)

Dread, Procrastination and Bad Hair Days

You, my faithful blog-gobblers, know I’m all about the “write every day” thing.

I know. I’m militant. I stand by this.


I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned the days when this doesn’t work out so well. Jami Gold wrote an interesting post today about giving yourself permission as a writer, on a number of levels. One of the things she touched on was the off-day and letting that go.

Everyone has off days.

You know what I mean. The Bad Hair Day. Those days that, for whatever reason, things just don’t flow right. If we weren’t committed to dealing with careers and families and things like keeping fed, we’d likely just crawl back into bed on those days and hide under the covers.

Few of us have that luxury though. We are committed to things that must get done every day, so we forge ahead, painful and unproductive as it may be.

That’s my point with the write every day thing.

For some reason, writing – maybe any creative endeavor, I don’t know – brings with it Dread and Procrastination. These evil twins perch on a writers shoulders and whisper of other things that need doing. Dread worries that the the plot line is muddied, that everyone will hate the book anyway, that maybe this is all a Terrible Mistake. Procrastination wonders what people are saying on Twitter, if any email has arrived and, oh, there are dishes in the sink! The twins have a common goal: to keep you from writing. I don’t know where they come from, but every writer seems to have some form of these nasty buggers.

The reason you sit down to write every day is to shake Dread and Procrastination from your shoulders.

Wherever they draw their power, it’s thwarted by habit. By ritual and sacred space. They fade away in the face of it until their little voices can’t be heard. That gives you the space to write. Whether that goes well is something else entirely.


But, I offer this. Those days when the words don’t flow and you stare at the screen? They totally count.

That’s writing, too.

If writing was only tippy-tapping words onto the page, then monkeys *could* do it. What we do is story-telling. We fit words to the story, yes, but that’s only one piece of an enormous subterranean process.

Hence the staring at the screen.

And the gazing off blindly into the distance.

The dreamthink.

So, I totally agree, Jami. Sit down to write every day, if only to shut up Dread and Procrastination, but I like your idea of Permission. What happens once you engage is all good.

No matter how your hair looks.