How to Get Everything Done

Yes – it’s the moment you’ve anxiously awaited. The beaked yucca bloomed!

Isn’t she pretty? Or he. We’re not sure how to tell.

If you haven’t been following the slow progress of the yucca bloom, you can see it here, here and here. Yeah, it’s been a long, slow process. Delightful result.

I mentioned last week that I went to Memphis this weekend to talk to the River City Romance Writers. It’s always a real treat to talk to other authors about the industry and process and writing time. They asked me to talk about writing novellas, then we worked into epublishing, do you need an agent and which epubs are the best these days and why I think so. We talked for two hours.

One thing that struck me was they wanted to know how I get it all done. This is always the hard question. It’s an easy answer, but no one really likes to hear it. I’ve talked about prioritizing before, so I won’t wax on about it right now. However, one thing that occurs to me is this old adage:

The more you do, the more you can do.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about how the writing fuels us, rather than the reverse. I think it’s a fallacy to say “oh, I’ll write when I have more time.” Or “I’ll start exercising when I have more energy.” The thing is, time and energy don’t just appear on their own. It’s kind of a “if you build it, they will come” proposition. If you insist on having the time to write, the time will be there. If you exercise, you’ll feel better and more energized. Just talk to anyone who’s retired or has been laid off from their jobs – they’ll tell you they don’t know where the time goes. I’ve been this soldier many, many times. When I have plenty of time to do something, I fritter 90% of it away. If I have only a short space of time? Boy, do I pile on the effort and get it done.

When I was in college, the president of the sorority was awarded most improved GPA. The former president leaned over and whispered in my ear, “that proves it right there: the more you do, the more you can do.”

The best thing about getting all those things done?

The rush of energy, baby!

Now git ‘er done.

Beaked Yucca Lessons

Update on the yucca flowering:

Not so much?

If you haven’t been following along with the Blooming of the Rescue Yucca, it started sending up a spire here and was much bigger here. I should have done an update last Monday, but I clearly had important ranting to do about appreciating the role of serendipity and chance in life.

So, you’d think there would be actual flowers by now, that there would be fragrant blooming. After all, it’s been weeks and weeks. Surely that’s enough time and effort? But no – the buds are covered with some kind of sticky stuff that the bugs seem to like. It’s all alien-looking and kind of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers.

The moral here is obvious.

Not all stages of growth are pretty. Things progress on their own schedule.

It always seems like a long time, when you’re waiting for the blossoms.

A few of my own flowers opened this weekend, though. Ellora’s Cave is making an offer on a short story tentativley called Feeding the Vampire. That’s right – it’s my Post-Apocalyptic Erotic Vampire story.


Hey – I don’t tell the dream faeries what stories to send.

Also, Petals and Thorns finalled in another contest – More Than Magic – for best novella! I’m so pleased to see P&T getting some love.

I don’t even mind the little bugs.


Our yucca spire continues to get taller. Some days you can almost SEE it grow. Just amazing. You can compare it to a week ago.

Sometimes I think writing success can be like this. Your life can go on with no apparent change while you work away at something. Every day you add a little bit. You extend the novel by another 1,000 words. You refine the story, make the character arcs stronger. You take in what you are fed and you grow, by infinitesimal amounts, day by day.

Often it may look like nothing at all is happening.

Then one day – it all pours forth. The work comes to fruition.

This is the overnight success. Where suddenly someone bursts forth upon the scene, in full flower, towering above everyone else. Never mind the years in the desert, the months without rain. The flowering unseen.

In this era of full-disclosure, it’s hard to imagine anyone flowering unseen. Everyone out there seems to be yammering away at top volume to declare their wares. In a crowd like that, it’s easy to fade to the back, to be just another yucca.

Just wait. Keep adding to the roots. Enjoying the sunshine.

When that spire shoots up, oh yeah – they’ll notice then.

New Beginnings

Look, our beaked rescue yucca is sending up a spire!

We figure this means it’s happy and getting established. Either that, or this is a last-ditch effort to reproduce before dying. We were concerned, after the very cold and dry winter and very dry spring, that it wasn’t doing well. It’s lovely to see this sign of vigor.

We prefer to focus on the positive.

I’m back home now. New England was lovely (damp) with many beautiful forests and waterways (cold), but it’s so good to be back in my home landscape with my at-home routines.

No, I didn’t get any writing done while I was gone. I finished out my first round of line edits on Sapphire on the plane there and then promptly failed to get anything else of a writing nature done, besides a few desultory blogs.

I just never do.

And I’m not totally sure why. I know part of it is my ritual is blown all to hell and gone. Even if I try to recreate it, I can’t. The other piece might be that I’m traveling for work and so I’m in work-brain 24/7. I never quite seem to shift out of it, even over the weekend. Of course, I was with my boss and we talked about work a lot, so that could be a contributing factor.

So, it’s good for me to sit at my writing desk again, with my storyboard beside me and all my little talismans of creativity. I like to think I’ve been storing up the writing these last few weeks and now this vigorous spire of creativity will pour out of me.

Me and the rescue yucca.

My Pretty Fantasy

This is our rescue beaked yucca, pre-planting.

We ended up riffing on this concept on Twitter, some of my writing friends and I. They asked how one rescues a yucca. I explained how this one came from Big Bend, Texas and was salvaged from land-clearing. These slow-growing plants are often destroyed by various kinds of development.

They asked about rescue yucca ranches, whether they were kill or no-kill. I assured them that all rescue cacti live happily ever after and receive ice cream every day.

This prompted great relief, especially from Adri, who was envisioning abandoned cacti with big sad eyes.

This is how writers are. Take one little image and spin it into an involved – and sometimes silly – story.

I spun myself this little fantasy the other day in the shower. No, not the kind you’re thinking of. In this one, an editor from the house that has Obsidian called me enthusing about the book. I dreamed up the detailed conversation, which involved phrases like “three-book contract,” “centerpiece of this year’s offerings from us,” and “brilliant new writer.” It was a terrific fantasy.

Now, I know there’s some value to this. All the positive-thinking guri (plural for guru, I feel quite sure) say you have to be able to envision the success. And I know we all have Walter Mitty-ish alternate lives in our heads, no harm done.

My problem is, my imagination is so vivid I begin to believe the fantasy.

All day, I kept wanting to tell people my good news. Hey! This editor called and offered me a fabulous book deal! In my head! Where I hear voices from people who aren’t really calling me…

Oh yeah. There’s that whole reality thing I have to remember to hang on to.

At any rate, I was amused at myself.

(And I still feel kind of excited about my imaginary phone call.)

And here’s the rescue yucca, planted as a centerpiece in the garden facing the road. If all goes well, he’ll grow up big and tall in this spot, a happy and attractive beaked yucca.

If you look closely, you can see a bit of ice cream smudged on his mouth.