Thursday, June 11, 2015

Weekend? What's a weekend?



On one memorable moment on Downton Abbey, the Dowager Countess Lady Violet (fabulously channeled by Maggie Smith) responded when asked about her plans for the weekend: “Weekend?  What’s a weekend?”

I got that, although for very different reasons. Somehow in recent years as I’ve worked at home, one day seems to blur into another. As much fun as it is being a writer, there’s also the behind-the-scenes stuff:  edits, rewrites, proof-reading and the ever-present deadlines.  That’s before I dip my foot into the deep waters of promotion.  Yikes. A girl could drown and there's never a day to  just sleep in.


My point, and I do have one, is that the weekend seems to have disappeared.  If I do book signings or events, they’re often on the weekend. Promotional travel?  Weekends!  In May, all four weekends involved book or writing events.  First thing I know, I’ve been going flat out for seven days. 

Of course, Lady Violet’s query shouldn’t have been surprising. Our notion of a five-day work week is relatively recent and must have seemed odd indeed to her. Not that the aristocracy had to worry about all the pesky work.  It would have seemed odd to the Downton Abby staff too.

But over the course of the twentieth century, people got used to the idea.  I have loved weekends since I started school and yet now … Where are they?  Gone!  Don’t get me wrong. Nothing beats the writing life and I can’t imagine what would ever send me back to the world of nine to five.  I love the fictional ability of bumping off anyone who has every annoyed me in real life. I am ridiculously fond of the many fictional dogs and cats I have created. I enjoy the flexibility of leaving my own desk during the day to do whatever non-work is calling to me.  

I just want a couple of days to goof off.  Maybe stretch out on a chaise and do nothing for a bit.



But the idea of taking those two days in the middle of the week is hard to get used to. It feels like playing hooky! Plus there are commitments that must be met. 

I get emails seven days a week and it seems like people are sending them twenty-four hours a day. In fact, this year I got emails with work suggestions and project ideas on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. To answer the question I am sure you were going to pose: why was I in email on Christmas and NYD?  Well, I went online to wish Merry and Happy to friends near and far. And then …

This is an over-connected age. Some of us must be available 24/7, or we feel that we must.  And a lot of us suffer from FOMO: fear of missing out. I confess, that sounds a lot like me. We can’t miss an email, an article, a blog, a tweet. Of course, we can’t read and do it all. Plus the reality is that most of us need a little down time.  I definitely need time to read in order to relax and recharge.  I'm not alone in that!





We need time to cuddle with a pet or a beloved small child. Time to stroll in the garden and see what's new.



or stare at the scenery. We need time when we aren’t marching to our To Do list’s orders.  Time to just ‘be’.  Some of us might even use our downtime to write. I often like to write on a vacation, but the secret is to be writing something that doesn’t have a deadline or a requirement attached to it.  

I’ve noticed friends ducking out or ‘going dark’ for a few days because of travel, family events or whatever. Apparently, their worlds did not end.  I'll take a lesson from them and also from the pooches, who seem to come by it naturally. In fact, they seem to have a seven-day weekend. Hmm.

So I am promising myself a little more time away from computer and To Do list.  All right,  that’s enough about me and what I need. How about you? Are you a weekend person? Do you need downtime?  Can you share some secrets of how you carve out time for yourself?   I look forward to stealing all your best ideas in my spare time. That’s what friends do. Maybe we'll have time to share a slice of cake. 










12 comments:

Maggie Sefton said...

Amen, Mary Jane. We all need time to relax, stretch out on the chaise lounge outside, and read or simply watch the wind in the trees. :)

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Especially you, Maggie! You've had such a year. Hugs. MJ

mary kennedy said...

This is a wonderful post, MJ!! The seven day work weeks are getting to me, too. We never seem to have a day off. That is the bane of our existence (well, that and deadlines.). Try to pick at least one week-end, very soon, and disconnect. You have earned it!

Mary Jane Maffini said...

You do so much more than I do, Mary! I hope you get one too. XOX MJ

Kate Collins said...

What's frustrating is that my friends and neighbors seem to feel I have a part time job because they see me outside (during a break in writing). They don't realize I work 7 days a week, where their day ends at 5 with weekends off. Writing is a totally different beast. Great post, MJ.

Anonymous said...

I thought all of you would agree. I just can't imagine the endless rounds you make to write and sell your books for the enjoyment of all of us. So a heartfelt thanks to you! Although it was an awful reason for doing so, I had already thought Maggie esp needed to take a break after all of the mother-of-the-bride activities. As to your specific question MJ, I can't help because I've been retired for 3 1/2 years. I do have free time now but still don't sleep in often because I have a hungry cat who needs meds and a neighbor with whom I walk early in the mornings (6:30 because of the heat the last few days). Cordella

Grandma Cootie said...

There are many best things about retirement, but one of the best best was when I started to lose track of what day of the week it was. I still sometimes think in terms of scheduling a project or task on the weekend because that's when we always did those things, but I remind myself that every day can be a weekend day, plus I don't ever have to shop or eat out on a Saturday or Sunday again if I don't want to. Yay!

Scaling back is hard. I don't know how you authors ever find time to write. When I first retired I was so happy thinking I would have so much free time I signed up for so many blogs and visited so many websites, plus all that FB stuff, that it was cutting into my actual book reading time. So I am trying to break myself of FOMO and just focus on my favorites (like this site!) and attack the TBR pile. And sympathy about those who think you aren't really working because "you're home and can set your own schedule." I telecommuted the last few years I worked and had to keep reminding friends that no, I couldn't just take off in the middle of the day because, duh, I really was working.

Mary Jane Maffini said...

Thanks, Kate! I hear you about that. And everyone always has lots for you to do "in your spare time". A different beast indeed. Hugs MJ

Mary Jane Maffini said...

So glad you came by, Cordella! I think we all feel this, but of course we also love to write and love our readers. And Daisy the Dachshund has been waking me up at 5:45 on these early spring mornings. Of course, to tell the truth, I got back to sleep. Wink wink. Hugs. MJ

Mary Jane Maffini said...

We're glad you're still here with us, Sally! And your comments are all spot on.

Thanks for coming by! XO

MJ

Robert Giddings said...

When I worked I never needed a calendar, maybe for dentist/doctor appt made months in advance. On a daily basis I knew when and where to be. In retirement, nothing is the same, one day leads to the next, many events I volunteer for are on the weekend and then the hours vary. But it is a good problem to have, the cost of living the dream.

Robert Giddings said...

When I worked I never needed a calendar, maybe for dentist/doctor appt made months in advance. On a daily basis I knew when and where to be. In retirement, nothing is the same, one day leads to the next, many events I volunteer for are on the weekend and then the hours vary. But it is a good problem to have, the cost of living the dream.