Goal Posting

I often think I’m closing in on the end of a book, think I can see that “through line,” wrapping up, the MGM orchestra finishing on a lovely triple-forte kiss… but oops, I need a scene showing what happens to the bad guy. So I write that scene.
And I also need a scene to wrap up the subplot.
I write that scene.
And I also need a scene for the secondary hero to leave town so the next book is set up.
And I write that scene…. The goal posts keep moving. Winter can pull the same maneuver. We get a few temperate days, I open the house up, start the day with tea on the front porch… then more snow in the forecast. Happens three weeks in a row, then five weeks in a row.
My day job has done the same thing. Three years ago, I thought I was done with courtroom representation. I’d hired good people and enough of them that I could stick to the administrative work, troubleshooting, and emergency back-up appearances.

The good people went elsewhere, and twice, I’ve had to suit up and get back on the horse. This is Not Fun. I’m finding that every time I have to raise my deflector shields after adjusting to life outside the courthouse, it’s harder. I’m that much more tired, that much more impatient to be free of the whole business.
And that sense of having to get back on a horse when I’m saddle sore, has been dogging me lately. A combination of the winter blahs, the lawyer-blahs, the homeowner blahs, the body-owner blahs. I know Canada has provincial holidays this time of year, because the late-winter blahs are that much a thing.

I’ve bought myself a Daylight, because I know it helps my mood and energy. Its primary function is to regulate my circadian rhythm, so the dreary days don’t tempt me to push bedtime ever later.
I’m also declaring Monday a Goof Off Day. I’m not going into the office, probably won’t write new material, might get some housework done (this is such a novel activity, it can qualify as a diversion).
I’m keeping flowers in the house, bright reds and yellows. I’m re-reading my keeper authors. I’m trying to be conscientious about getting on the tread desk, though that is ever a struggle.
Mostly, I’m relying on the calendar. Today we got a couple inches of snow. Tuesday, it’s supposed to be in the seventies. Spring is coming. I just need to hang on. I’ll get the book written (again), I’ll find my balance in the courtroom (again), and spring will arrive.
How do you cope when the winter-blahs or the job-blahs, or the I-thought-we-were-done-with-this blahs hit?
To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of  A Rogue of Her Own.

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40 comments on “Goal Posting

  1. 1
    Mary T says:

    I use a lot of the same coping mechanisms you do. Comfort reads – you and Mary Balogh figure largely there.

    When I feel down, laughing helps me a lot. There are some episodes of Mash, Seinfield and Modern Family that (even though I’ve seen them upteen times) still have me laughing my butt off. My go-to authors for laughs are Joan Smith and Barbara Metzger. I have even bookmarked sections of books by Eloisa James and Julia Quinn that I can go to for instant laughs.

    And lastly, one of my first signs of Spring is a little group of daffodils in my backyard that are working their way up through the frozen ground and snow even as I write this.

    • 1.1
      Sue says:

      I have a collection of goofy movies that I turn to!

    • 1.2

      I recall a time when my then-teenage daughter was really, really struggling–dangerously struggling–and she got a hold of some Dave Berry. She LAUGHED her behonkis off, the loveliest sound I’d heard in a long, long time. I wrote to Dave, thanking him for putting the sound of hope back in my household.

  2. 2

    The winter blues gets me every winter I have tried different things to try and make it better but still it seems endless,I even went on a month’s holiday to Tenerife in November/December and arrived back 3 days before Christmas feeling fit and Sun tanned and hopeful that it would sustain me through the rest of the winter.No such luck January and February in the U.k have seen some of the coldest on record.So dark and damp and the North Sea looks grey and violent when I go for my (nearly daily ) walk.Yesterday I was with one of my granddaughters and it was a dark afternoon and raining when she suggested we put on a happy musical film.We chose Mama m1a before long we were up dancing and singing all the Abba songs and enjoying all the beautiful scenery of the Greek island.What a tonic for us both.A moment in time when grand mum and granddaughter blew away the winter blues and laughter and fun took over.Not long now the daffodils are pushing upwards a good sign surely!Keep warm keep calm and be happy.

    • 2.1

      Singing and dancing and hanging out with family. Sounds like great medicine. We have a few crocuses opening here, but we’re in very dreary stretch of weather too. Nothing as a dreary as dreary ocean though. Hope your spring comes early and compensates for the long, cold winter.

  3. 3
    Make Kay says:

    When we live in cold places, we take a tropical vacation in February to get a bright, warm spot for a week. It’s so uplifting.
    Also comfort reads, for sure!

    • 3.1

      That makes so much sense to me, particularly given how important good old Vitamin D is to general health. My brothers are skiers, and they have friends who chase winter, popping down to Argentina and New Zealand in spring. I could NOT do that. Nope, nope, nope. Four seasons, please, in the right order and of the standard duration.

  4. 4
    Susan Gorman says:

    This is a tough time of year. Yesterday, it was 40′ and then it snowed over night. Six inches of mushy snow. I got my errands done yesterday and finished my book thinking we might be iced in today. I bake and watch Classic movies when we are snowed it. Todsy, I have some reviews to post & a new book to start.

    I am trying to walk at lunch. Getting away from my desk seems to re charge me for an afternoon of work. I have a couple new floral scarves that I am wearing to add a little color to my wardrobe and my husband bought me flowers. These little things seem to work…excersise, color and flowers.

    Am waiting for Celeste’s daffodils to pop up. Daffodils are a sure sign of spring.

    • 4.1

      I am aware of the light lengthening. It’s not pitch dark at six pm (unless the overcast is heavy), and I’m not waking up in pitch darkness. That makes such a difference. That’s like seeing the daffodils, it gives my winter-stamina a boost, because I can see and feel the progress out of cold and darkness.
      Not that I’m eager for the danged flies to hatch.

  5. 5
    Teenie Marie says:

    I do stuff I want to do and don’t do stuff I don’t want to! Sounds easy. Sounds fun. Sounds impossible.

    There comes a time here in the Midwest when we just have to hunker down, admit Mother Nature is in charge and for a day or so, declare defeat and stay in. Last week should have been that weekend but oh no, we had obligations and our household revved up the snow blower and we got outta here. I didn’t want to but Hubby had to make an appearance because he was on the board of something and Kiddo #3 had to go to work. I tagged along in the midst of nine days of snow in a row. Yuck and double yuck.

    This weekend and next I am declaring my Snow Days for the winter, though tomorrow and Tuesday are supposed to be in the 60s. We don’t have any obligations and I am keeping it that way. I DID have an obligation today which was cancelled due to someone breaking their arm on ice (and she shouldn’t have been out in the crazy weather) and SHOULD by rights, go to another event that conflicted and now I could go. But NO, not gonna do it.

    I will bake. I will mate socks AND put them away . 🙂 I will make everyone’s favorite fried chicken. And will watch the Olympics. I will chill. All for my mental health.

    Next weekend I will do the same because starting in March, we’re busy every weekend until JUNE! During the week, it’s business as usual. Sigh.

    • 5.1

      Wow. Talk about the family circus… yikes!
      I have wonderful associations with the Winter Olympics. The year my daughter was born was a Winter Olympics year. She was colicky in the early weeks, and we’d spent much of the night hanging out on the couch, watching the coverage from Calgary. I hadn’t yet gone back to work, and those two weeks of chillin’ and thrillin’ were very special.
      PS I hope you some vacay planned? Sounds like you’re going from busy to busier in the upcoming weeks.

  6. 6
    Diane Sallans says:

    I had about 5-6 inches of snow here too last night – fortunately I had gotten someone to plow & shovel for me this season (finding someone really stressed me out last fall). Last week I was stressed about my cable contract (which had expired). They always try to manipulate me when I call & often don’t offer existing customers as good a deal as they advertise. I spent a whole day putting off making the phone call – of course, then it went fairly well. Spent the whole day reading!

    So right now I don’t have a major stress issue – tho my theory is that something will pop up out of the blue that was never even on my worry radar. I’ve got lots of chores to get thru – not much got done in January when I was fighting a bad sinus infection. But with the temps going up to the 60’s this week maybe it’ll feel like spring & I’ll get lots done!

    • 6.1

      We had two nice days here early in the week (mizzable again now), and I felt the same impulse to go, do, and bustle about. All the fun stuff–change the oil, get the well serviced, take the latest batch of juvenile felines to the vet, see the dentist… I want to take care of this baloney now so that when the weather IS nice, I can wallow in the lovely days and write my HEAs.

  7. 7
    Carol Luciano says:

    Every Winter I dread it because the gray and dreary days make me want to curl up and stay there. I have one daughter who lives home and she too suffers from SAD . I make sure the radio is always on my oldies station, have flowers in the house and my daughter will put on the old movies which are lifting. I can’t go out when it gets this cold due to COPD and chronic back problems so I just make sure , to the best of my ability that I read and do things that I enjoy.

    • 7.1

      I broke down and got a Daylight last year, because I came back from a month in San Diego and COULD NOT get my circadian rhythm straightened out. It helps me keep on track in the dreary months, but its’ NOT THE SAME THING AS REAL SUNSHINE.
      Just give me a few months, though, and I’ll be bellyachin’ about the flies, the humidity, the dust…

  8. 8
    Beth says:

    Playing “one more form” with the accountant, so my goalposts are hopping every which way. I’d dearly love to push a huge red “You’re FIRED” button for all the politicians who create second careers in paperwork for those of us doing our taxes and fire the lot.

    I wonder if high blood pressure would vanish completely if the tax code went away? Sigh…

    • 8.1

      Oh, you said the T-word. Seems like every year, my accountant finds another rabbit hole, at the bottom of which lies $.17 of typo, addition error, mis-classfication, and nothing will do but we must spend $200 on research and documentation over that $.17 boo-boo. Do they think I don’t realize what their game is?
      GAH. Where are the minions when we need them?

  9. 9
    Sue says:

    I think I am a bear. I want to hibernate in winter… also in scorching hot summer. Making myself go somewhere helps, not just for the diversion but also for the pleasure of coming home. I enjoy walking the dog (and wonder why I am not more successful at it). I love watching sniff around and roll in the grass and just trot along with his tail in the air. I also love when he comes where I am and lays down with his head on my feet.

    Now I have a cat. I took her in when a grandson was planning to just put her out while cleaning out his recently passed grandmother’s house. It was supposed to be temporary, but no one wants a 16 + year old blind cat not the no kill sanctuaries anyway. I was really annoyed but now that she has decided she lives here she has started sitting in my lap and on the back of my chair. A nice little companion. I just could not send her to a sure death. It has reminded me that there are many things about who I am that I like.

    • 9.1

      Sue, on behalf of that bereaved kitty, thanks. Sixteen years is a long time to be a loyal companion, only to get the heave-ho because you outlived your human. Some grandsons need their heads examined.

      I have one elder kitty who qualifies as a lap cat. She has written many books with me, and sometimes I’ll be journaling at the end of a terrible, horrible, awful, very bad day, and old Chloe will come sit in my lap and purr. She reminds me that life has sweetness, and I’m not alone. The idea that my kid or grandkid might just toss her out like an old bathrobe would drive me to haunt the offender for the rest of his or her days.

  10. 10
    Elaine says:

    Creating occasions to spend time with friends helps chase some of the blahs away. I hosted an all-female Super Bowl party where we even watched a bit of the game between eating and talking! We also gambled nickels on the score for each quarter — high stakes and glamorous prizes from the local dollar store.

    I also plan an annual Valentine’s Day movie marathon so that those of us without Mr. Right in our lives don’t miss out on something special. We can eat chocolate, watch interesting movies and socialize in between the shows. Perfect in the run-up to the Oscars!

    • 10.1

      Oh, that sounds lovely.
      I was a GROUCH last week, in a big bad mood for days… then I realized, this is my first Valentine’s Day without my dad. He was not always a good fit for me as a parent, he was Old Skool in ways that society (and I) view with increasing judgment, BUT…
      When I was eight years old, I came home from school, and saw a Valentine’s card on the mantel for me and for my two sisters. He did that, every year. I have the last one he sent me, reminding me that he loved me before “all those other guys did,” and he will always love me.
      To have some gal-pals to hang with, maybe a P&P marathon, some good chocolate… it’s a good thing that make happen, Elaine.

  11. 11
    Marianne says:

    My mother used to say “Do something nice for someone else.” Grrr.

    Seed catalogs are nice.

    We have an adult son at home again between jobs or life decisions or something. Weather has kept him here, but much as I love him I’m somewhat uncomfortable with my mother but not a mommy role.

    Any advice from the rest of you?

    • 11.1
      Teenie Marie says:

      One of mine went back to law school last fall. This was TEN YEARS after he completed grad school during which he was living with us and *finding himself*. So happy for him he’s gone and for us too. The youngest has been staying (after an advanced degree and is saving up for a doctoral program)with us for four years. Both had (have) jobs which we insisted they get to pay their own bills. We do (did)help out but nothing outrageous.

      Not being Mommy is tough and we’ve come up with some rules; they have to do their own laundry regularly. They do it ever other weekend or they lose their turn–and it has to be finished over a Friday, Saturday and the last load has to be in the dryer Sunday night. I’ve been known to dump their last load on the floor (so sorry, is it clean?)of the laundry room if it’s in my way for what I need to do on Monday or Tuesday. And cooking; they make dinner for the family one weekday night every other week and we have to eat by 6:30 or they lose their turn the next time. And they have to clean up to my standards. They have to let us know when they will be back if they go out for a non-work thing (I don’t care what they do, I just want to know when to start worrying they are bleeding somewhere in a ditch!)and if they use my car (always the fall back), they have to fill the gas tank.

      Living together as adults is a lot harder than you would think and the urge to tell ’em what to do is hard to control. Our rules have cut down on some of that…..fighting about stupid stuff like realizing they need a clean shirt at midnight for a 8 am job the next morning and EXPECTING me to do it after working all day myself so NO MORE! If they expect to be treated like adults, they have to slog through the boring stuff just like the Big Folks. Sigh. Didn’t mean to get on a rant.

      What you are doing is good but it’s difficult to parent when you thought you were finished. Your son will be grateful some day, have no fear, and it will have been worth it. Hope this helps Marianne!

    • 11.2
      Mary T says:

      I think Teenie Marie gave you some really good advice there. Ground rules are SO IMPORTANT. I had a grown niece living with me a few years back. There is such a fine line between being lovingly helpful or being an enabler.

      Best wishes an good luck to you.

    • 11.3

      Um… this too shall pass?
      When my daughter moved out, one of my sisters pulled me aside, “Don’t get to missing her too much. She’ll be back.” Sister spoke from experience.
      I represent a lot of young people in foster care court, stuck in those 18-21 years when they are trying to accomplish so much with so few resources and almost no experience.
      To have family to fall back on is HUGE advantage. Yeah, he’s driving you nuts expecting you to mom his dirty laundry but not his attendance at meals, but that can be discussed. That you have his back, that he’s not homeless or doing stupid things to stay off the street, is probably the difference between adult success and a life going in the ditch.
      Hang in there. Keep talking. Read lots of good books.

  12. 12
    Larisa says:

    The body owner blahs. Oh Amen I’ve a case of those and they do seem worst in February.
    Thank you for the phrase!

    • 12.1

      I have a GREAT body. She does pretty much everything I ask her to do, she rarely gets sick. The only time this body had to go to the hospital was to give birth to a little some-body. This body can type books, delight in good chocolate, snuggle among the covers, relish the feel of a soft, warm, purring kitty.
      But, this body has teeth that need to see the dentist, shoulders that have learned the bursitis blues, and ears and eyes that are losing function. I need to look after the old girl, because she’s the only body I will be issued and she has held up wonderfully.
      Sometimes, I just want to buy a warranty extension for her though, but I think that’s called Eating Vegetables, moving, and getting good sleeps. Always the trade-offs.

  13. 13
    Marla Michalak says:

    I think this time of year is hard since one day it is nice and the next it isn’t. Hang in there. It will get better.

    • 13.1

      We’ve just started the nice-day teasers in Maryland. Had two back-to-back mild, sunny days. Ah, my mood! Now it’s five straight days of cold and rain. But we had Monday and Tuesday, and they were wonderful.

  14. 14
    Glenda says:

    When those blahs hit me – whatever the reason or type – I resort to reading more. Much of the time I end up losing sleep because of the extra reading time but since I have trouble getting to sleep when things are bothing me I’m more relazed when I try to sleep.

    • 14.1

      I’d gotten into the habit of reading a writing-how-to book as I fell asleep, but I’m working on a book for Jonathan Tresham, so I’m re-reading Will’s True Wish. Hey–this reading fiction is good stuff! I’d forgotten what a pleasure it is to take a story to bed, and that “one more scene…” tug of war between the story and dreams.
      Just got Kelly Bowen’s latest…

  15. 15
    Olivia B says:

    I have been having an equally rough winter, also filled with lawyer-blahs and employer-blurghs (basically #MeToo, and fighting against harassment is a lot harder and more expensive than I ever thought).

    I too am giving myself Mondays, but what I’ve been doing is fasting from sunup to sundown. I drink a lot of calming tea and give my Sodastream a good workout, then when the sun sets, I eat something comforting, like Greek lemon chicken soup.

    I think I need to get one of those Daylight things too, as maybe it might help fight the sadness that comes along with the winter blues.

    But most important of all, at night, I read romance novels like yours, and let myself escape to somewhere happy endings exist and the bad guys DO get some kind of comeuppance. I’ve never commented before, but this post really spoke to me, so thank you, Grace, for the respite you bring to my life (and so many others).

    • 15.1

      You are most welcome, because here’s the fun part: Writing does for me what reading does for you. You get to put the hard day aside for a few chapters when you read. When I wrote those chapters, I was putting a hard day aside (or difficult hashtag, or an endless rant on social media, or a legal client I couldn’t help, or, or, or). We have a great system!

      And yeah… protecting my evenings from all the hashtags, public policy debates, worries, and rants has become increasingly important. I also guard the first few hours of the day, so that I’m in a (mostly) positive sandwich.
      And I’m on that stinkin’ infernal tread desk. Not every day, but regularly. I don’t know if it helps, but it doesn’t hurt, so a treading I do go.

  16. 16
    Anne Egger says:

    Okay this may be off topic, but I have got to tell you what happened yesterday. I met with my professor, I was honest with him, and now he is willing to help me. I know that sounds like common sense, but I am still kind of stunned.

    • 16.1

      Are you stunned at yourself, for your honesty and courage, or stunned with him, because he’s motivated to do his job and help a motivated student learn the material? If I’m going to be honest, I can’t see you being anything other than truthful and forthright.

  17. 17
    Joanne Stevens says:

    Dear Ms. Burrowes,
    My solution to beating the winter doldrums was to hop in the car for a weekend of papercrafting with one of my wonderful sisters. We are all book lovers in our family and we got a kick out of the fact that we both had Grace Burrowes books in hand! I was re-reading The Heir and she was reading a recent book that she promised I could have as soon as she finished. You are welcome to visit us and enjoy lots and lots of sun.

    • 17.1

      Now I want to know what papercrafting is. I can make a little paper bird, which is great for entertaining little kids in court, but that’s the extent of my paper craft. Hmmm…
      I wish my sisters were just a car ride away, but they are both on the West Coast for now. We’re talking about doing some travel together in early 2019, and I’m already looking forward to that.

  18. 18
    Stacy says:

    I just gone done researching Daylight lamps. Wonderful! I’m bi-polar and it can be difficult to keep my schedule normal. Since I will be out and about tomorrow, I believe I’ll pick one up. Thank you for the idea.

    My husband and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary this weekend. I’d like to think it was my own interesting romance novel full of warm, witty conversation and lovely intimate moments. It was a nice break from my winter blahs!

    • 18.1

      Good on you and hubby for making something of the occasion. We talk about the seven-year-itch, but there’s also a spike in divorces around seventeen years, when the kids are becoming more independent, and mid-life crisis factors begin to pop up.
      So you made it through that knothole. Congratulations!

  19. 19
    KY says:

    I live in Singapore, and it’s summer all year round. We still get blahs though. I’m going to take some time off and do some volunteering work. Hopefully, that’ll get rid of the blahs. 😀