Micro-Sabbatical 2019

My first post for 2019 is about my third complete micro-sabbatical. It's nothing short of a miracle that it occurred, too, considering that my family traded viruses and recovered from illness for no less than three weeks following New Year's Eve. For real, peeps. It was gruesome. But it's over now (knock wood) and we're moving forward. Kind of. I mean, everyone's sniffly or coughy, but roughly back to our normal schedules.

So anyway: micro-sabbatical. It was really micro this year, as I could only spare mornings for the writing. I had to use my afternoons to prep for spring classes. But I kept a log each day inside this blog post, after I worked toward each day's primary project/aim, and here's what happened. Essentially:

Day One: Tuesday, Jan. 22: I used my early-morning writing hours to read and also write my micro-sabbatical plan. I am nothing if not last-minute, as the rest of this sentence will prove: after putting the kids on the bus (and doing dishes, and showering, and packing up all my shit) I loaded myself in the car, drove to Starbucks, and proceeded to work on my NYFA grant application for 3+ hours -- BECAUSE IT WAS DUE THE VERY NEXT DAY.

Still, it was a successful day one. As is typical, going differently than I intended (I arrived at Starbucks a lot later than I wanted), but whatev. I checked something off my list, man! I finished something! Woohoo!

Day Two: Wednesday, Jan. 23: It was warmer outside compared to the early days of the week, but the interior of Starbucks was freezing for some reason. Wearing a winter coat while writing is not the worst, but also not the best, phenomenon. Also I *almost* fell down a rabbit hole in Twitter after going to look something up, but thankfully remembered to crawl out before more than five full minutes were wasted.

Times are rough, ya'll.

This day's goal was to write the first draft of a review for Hope Maxwell Snyder's new collection, Esperanza and Hope. I wrote the end first -- because I knew that I wanted to close the review with a comment on how the publisher overstepped the bounds of good taste and shoehorned his own crap poem into her book. 600 words later, I've yet to write the beginning -- but I enjoyed writing non-blog prose again, and frankly, being a little mean. In revision some of the more "mean-girl" criticisms will be almost completely edited out in the name of, not surprisingly, good taste, and also so I don't undermine what I think are pretty valid points about mentoring and publishing.

Note: Anyone who would like to create their own mini- or micro-sabbatical and would like to use the Micro-Sabbatical Plan (which I appropriated from the college/union and changed to suit my personal needs), click HERE to see a Google Docs version.

Day Three: Thursday, Jan. 24:  This day began later than the others thanks to a dentist appointment. (Apparently, after 40 everything falls apart, even if you've been taking relatively good care of your teeth.) I could still sip coffee with half my jaw shot up with Novocaine, so I trekked to Starbucks despite the late start.

Sure, it's totally a cliche to be a writer working in any coffeehouse, let alone Starbucks, but cut this working mom of three some slack, okay? At $6 a day for coffee and a bottle of water (+ tip), with free WiFi and a corner seat next to an outlet, plus the ability to focus for three solid hours without the distractions of home or the office, it's probably the most convenient and cheapest residency a poet-mom can get.

And even -- or maybe because -- I'd arrived later in the day, I stayed later too, (the Starbucks baristas must love my loitering ass) and finished a solid draft of the review. I concentrated on the beginning and writing about all of the parts of Esperanza and Hope that make it worth reading and found quotes to demonstrate and by the end of the day I was over-caffeinated, under-fed, and more than a little grumpy as a result, but very satisfied that I finished the week with a completed piece of work.

Now revision, and then submission.

Day Four: Friday, Jan. 25: The last day of the micro-sabbatical was truncated, and conducted at home, since I have too much to do before my eldest brings home a flock of her peers to "get ready" for the middle school dance.

Yes, I'm *that* mom.


Anyway, I spent this morning revising my review. In the end, I think it's good. I hope it's good. I'm not really used to sending my prose out into the world, at least in the traditional seeking-publication way, so my gauge is not a good one. Hopefully it will get picked up, though. It would be demoralizing to spend so many hours drafting this thing to have it just sit and collect dust -- and the book I wrote about deserves more attention, more readership. So, here's to hoping. Knock wood, cross fingers, all that jazz.

As is typical, I put more than I could manage into my "plan" for the micro-sabbatical, but I'm okay with only accomplishing a fraction of my list -- at least I accomplished something! And if I hadn't set aside this time, I wouldn't have written the thing. And now I can go into the new semester knowing that I dedicated a good amount of time to writing over the break, and so I shouldn't be resentful when I have to grade papers. (HA!! I will *ALWAYS* be resentful when I have to grade papers. Who am I kidding?)


Lissa Clouser said…
Congratulations on getting some of the things on your list done! I always (ALWAYS) list wayyyy too many things on my to-do lists too. I swear I have no concept of time when it comes to how much I can actually accomplish in a given amount of it.

Any to-do list or plan that sits you down and makes you actually work on what you intend to (AND complete things, even if not everything) is a win to me. Well done!
Thanks, Lissa! This is absolutely my problem, too -- I can never be realistic when creating a to-do list. And then I end up feeling overwhelmed and like a failure. You'd think I'd have learned by my fourth decade, but nope!

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