How’s it going?

The deadline for the book is a few weeks away. (Longer than that really, but I need to subtract the time that I’m on tour, since the schedule moves so fast that it’s almost impossible to get anything done except for the events.) To compensate for missing that time, I’m busting it pretty hard right now. This is how the living room looks.


What’s missing from that picture (aside from the gansey, which is just out of camera range and totally ready for me to design the top part) is me lying on the floor marking up pages, swearing, weeping loudly and ignoring the needs of an entire trashed house and three teenagers while hopped up on so much coffee that I can feel my hair grow.

I work on the living room floor until I am ready to print up the next part or someone asks me a stupid question. Currently on the list of stupid questions are the following:

1. How’s it going?

(Seriously. Look at me. Look at the mess. How does it look like it’s going? Do you usually ask crying, sleep deprived people who have been wearing the same tee shirt for 4 days how it’s going? No, no you don’t. You just walk around them really quietly and make soft noises and make MORE COFFEE. )

2. Do you know what Amanda/Meg/Sam did?

(Unless they burned a page of manuscript or wrote a page of manuscript I don’t care. Go sort your sister issues out and don’t speak to mummy unless the police are here or you need pizza money.)

3. Do you want to come to bed?

(Would I be making more coffee if I wanted to come to bed?)

4. Do you think you’re going to finish?/ How much did you get done today/ When will you finish? / Are you getting it done?/ Do you think this is a healthy approach?

(That’s it. Pressure the crazy lady.)

5. Are you thinking about making dinner?

(I find that staring the questioner down while creating an awkward silence works well here.)

Then I leave. I go to the back room. I enter into the 78th debate with the stinking cat about who’s office chair that is….


and then I keep going.

It’s going to feel really good to finish. I think I need more knitting time.

203 thoughts on “How’s it going?

  1. I have to say, I so admire your discipline! I’m in the process of trying to make a go of freelance writing, and I totally understand how much it can make you want to tear your hair out. Keep trucking!

  2. I have faith! You can do it, it will be masterful and witty and just like having more children, you’ll forget the pain and sign up for one more!
    : )

  3. Hang in there, you know you’ll get through this, just the way you did the last three times. No, it’s not easy writing well, but you have proven that you can do it.
    BTW, I find that the “stare them down” tactic works best if you can look over the tops of the glasses.

  4. Hmmm….I seem to have those debates with my cats all the time. Especially Chaucer. But now I have a new desk chair and the cats get to inhabit the old one (which is starting to look like the cats inhabit it).
    I was the same way writing my master’s thesis – people always seem to ask the obvious or interrupt at the MOST inopportune time. Hang in there.

  5. My cat Katie looks just like your cat. She is fond of our computer chair as well. Good luck with your deadline.

  6. You can do it!! I love your books and am sure that this will be as fab as the other! I’ll drink a cup (or pot) of coffee for you!!

  7. Actually, I do not want you to EVER stop writing. You can take breaks for knitting and spinning every now and then, but I figure you’ve got another 30 to 35 years of good writing in you, assuming your mind holds up, and I intend to enjoy every moment of it!

  8. In situations like this it is best to lay down the law about when the family is permitted to speak to you. In only the following two situations should it be allowed:
    1 – the house is on fire
    2 – someone in the house is dying
    Other than that they are on their own to handle it!

  9. Instruct those teenagers that the only reason they should make any contact with you is
    1) they have made a fresh pan of fudgy brownies for you
    2) there is ice cream for said brownies
    3) and a fresh cup of really good coffee
    4) and a professional who will come to your house with a portable massage table set up in you living room so you can look at the pages in peace and know what needs changing, and most importantly, that most of it is good as is
    In case of emergency,dial 911 (you have that up there???)

  10. They are expecting you to make dinner???
    Scathing looks and silence are the best, especially, as AuntyNin said, over the tops of your glasses.

  11. Chair = Stephanie’s
    Stephanie’s Lap = Cat’s!
    At least that’s the way it goes in my house! However, at my parents’ place the chair isn’t the issue…the view of the computer screen is. Ever try to read a blog through the body of a siamese cat?

  12. You are doing great. NO STRESS!! Your children are basically self sufficient, they can cook or eat cereal. Take it one day at a time. Try to calm down, knit a few rows, smile, I know you can do it!! You could be like me on Friday facing 22 Kindergarteners on the first day of school!! YIKES! Now that is stress!

  13. You can do it! I’ve never written a book but I have finished a Masters thesis and can say that, the ‘squirrellier’ (new Patty word) you get, the closer you are to finishing. Your head will NOT explode (despite the way it feels). Good luck!

  14. My response to the “Do you know what (fill in the sibling) did?” is to ask, “Are you getting him/her in trouble or out of danger?” If the answer is “in trouble”, go and sort out your own issues. I have Stuff to do (none of which holds a candle to what you’re doing).
    The cat looks as though she’s thoroughly ensconced. Good luck convincing her that she hasn’t simply loaned you HER chair.

  15. Oh, Steph. And I just sent you an email asking if the book was done yet and seeing how you were doing. SORRY!! Well, if you need any household chore “fudge” tips, I wrote a few suggestions in my blog today. It helped me this summer – it might come in handy for you in the next few weeks. Hang in there!

  16. …and on the subject of knitting, what is that beautiful thing on the back of your office chair. I know it must be something wonderful, cats have an opinion on that sort of thing.

  17. Steph, dear one! The cat was merely making sure no one else took your seat! And your book will be brilliant, I’m sure. As for the teenagers, well, they are teenagers.

  18. That staring thing works really well if you bug out your eyes a little and if a vein on your forehead is pulsing. My mom knew how to do that well, and someday soon I will learn. (I will practice on my husband first. Like when he says, “The baby’s diaper is dirty” and hands the baby to me.)
    You rock, and even though everyone else is not getting it, Sir Washie supports you in your efforts.

  19. I hereby rescind all requests for help in email form or otherwise. Please delete any messages received.
    I look forward to the next book, but would rather see you sane and wait a while longer than have you break down and never write again. (You wouldn’t do that to us, would you?)
    Sending you thoughts of chocolate and alcohol.
    As for the cat, I’ve heard of a device that releases a piercing whistle when the cat attempts to park itself where it is not wanted, like say your chair, just saying.

  20. Just so you know, that smiling and waving group you saw today? We love our wine. We have plenty. You are invited to share it with us. Hell, we’ll give you a bottle of your own after reading this entry of yours!
    However, we plan on giving you two bottles of your own wine, because we’re generous like that… not that you should in anyway construe this as a bribe to visit our neck of the woods, but if you’re feeling the need to imbibe a bit of happy juice to relax, well, I’m just sayin’…

  21. Your post reminded me of my daughters fav movie (right now anyway) Finding Nemo….just sing:
    Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming Swimming Swimming….

  22. But you know we all love you and can’t wait for your next book so it’s all worth it right? Right?

  23. If it weren’t for deadlines, we’d never get any work done… doesn’t mean we don’t go crazy when crunch time hits, eh? Chin up and know that we believe in you, even if you are crazy. πŸ™‚

  24. (deep chuckle at Rams) You can survive this Stephanie! Just think of the relief when it is done!!

  25. Steph, it is obvious that what you need is … and I’m a working (outside the home) mom with a great husband but … what you need is a … wife.
    Don’t anybody get on me for sexist comments. I work full time, commute an extra work-day’s-worth per week, have a husband who can and does cook (sometimes) and does contribute (some) to household chores, and I do freelance book indexing (hint! hint!) on the side. Sorry, haven’t met a man yet that quite gets it.
    You need a wife. Every wife/mother needs a wife. Sorry, that’s the plain truth.

  26. I’ve never written a book but I did write a doctoral dissertation and I’ve got to admire your organization. By the end I was a screaming banshee from hell, but the knitting feels that much better when it’s all over.

  27. Is anyone else trying to photoshop that first picture to see if they can read the pages? Or is that just me?
    (I wish you luck, chocolate, pints, silence, and cashmere. Not necessarily in that order.)

  28. Yes, what is that beautiful knitted item on the back of YOUR chair??
    Steph, remember….(this is a quiet whisper) you are dauntless, you know that, we know that, books 1,2,&3 know that, this manuscript/book is learning…
    12 days…

  29. Hey! My floor looked like that when I was writing my thesis. Sometimes there was a cat on top of it!
    Don’t kid yourself- the office chair really belongs to the cat.

  30. What are you doing reading comments? Add some chocolate to the coffee regimen and you’ll feel slightly better.

  31. Do not enter a debate with a cat. Sit ON the cat. She’ll learn who owns the chair (ok, she’ll still think it’s hers but she’ll have a new appreciation of the concept of “bigger”).

  32. My only advice is to grab that red-orange yarn dream that you got from the Oracle. Pet it, stroke it, rub it on your cheek. That should soothe you and help you regain focus and sanity.
    Good luck, Steph!

  33. After “the police are here”, I would add “is there blood? Fire?” Then pizza money.
    Hang in there. Add a little something to your coffee…..

  34. Rent a hotel room and bring a sack full of groceries and a coffee pot. Don’t forget the laptop and the power cord. Take the phone off the hook. The family will survive. And, you don’t have to wash the towels, they do that for you.
    I wrote a disseration once. Yes, it hurts, but you do eventually finish if you stick with it.
    Hang tough, dear Harlot.

  35. You’ll get there. And it will be wonderful and witty, and we’ll all rejoice with you when you’re done. Shall I send wine?

  36. You can do it!! Speaking of cats, take their example on life (at least this is how mine drive me nuts)
    1. Several times a day, stop what you are doing, even if it is only for 5 minutes.
    Run around the house and spaz out.
    2. Go back to work as if nothing happend.
    3. Repeat as needed
    It probably won’t stop family members from bugging you, but it’s fun to see their reaction!! As long as they don’t call the people with the nice white coats that is. . .
    I hope you get a chance to enjoy your book tour and not worry so much! I can’t wait to meet you in Eau Claire!

  37. Ah…. my favorite communication tactic: “The question that is really a command.” Examples:
    1. “Is there any butter?” Why yes, in the refrigerator. Go help yourself to it!
    2. “Are you thinking about starting supper soon?” I like your non-verbal response to this tactic better than what usually comes out of my mouth when someone tries this on me.
    I find if I just say “Ah, the question that is really a command” while focusing on the offending child/husband, he gets embarassed enough to leave me alone. I’ve never tried it while in a state of sleep deprivation/super caffeination, though. It might work for you, and what have you got to lose? I can’t wait for the next book,Stephanie!

  38. remember the part where you were going to think about taking me up on my offer BEFORE your brain exploded?

  39. I was going to ask a question, but now that you’ve reminded me of what if feels like to be writing to a deadline, I’m afraid to…well, maybe just a little, teeny, tiny, easy, peasy question: will you please let us all know when the deadline has passed…so the timid types like myself can quit tiptoeing around?
    BTW, just a thought, but wouldn’t a nice glass of wine work better than coffee?

  40. Oh, don’t worry about the pressure . . . I like Sarah from Eau Claire’s response . . . about six above mine . . . I think I’ll go do that now . . . ummmm, oh yeah, that’s right, I’m only taking a break from my writing and stuff, surfing the net, and, well, I gotta go.
    p.s. Ummm, I hate to be a pest but like are you almost done and when is the deadline?

  41. You definitely need more knitting time! And we both know whose chair that is, don’t we? No point in debating with a cat – you can’t win. But you DO win in the great writer/knitter department. No debate on that one.

  42. Good luck, Harlot! We know you can do it. I bet you’re peeing alot with all the coffee!

  43. Maybe it’s time to start adding a little something extra to the coffee. Alcohol, prescription drugs, whatever helps. πŸ˜‰ Good luck!

  44. *sigh*–yeah, sometimes when I’m writing I think my kids’ idea of ‘multi-tasking’ is that they can bother me WHILE eating me out of house and home AND playing computer games.

  45. Re: the “thinking about dinner” comment, I found that replying with something along the lines of “I’m thinking that whatever you make for dinner will be fine,” usually solves that!
    Hang in there.

  46. Ok, when staring them down doesn’t work try this: stare over their heads while attempting some useless mental feat like counting backward from 100 by 7’s (maybe in a foreign language if you feel up to it). When I do this, the crease in my forehead and the way my lips are moving serves as a warning sign that the offending party should make himself scarce.

  47. Wine, chocolate, bubblebath, coffee
    Wine, chocolate, bubblebath, coffee
    There’s subliminal message in there somewhere

  48. Teenagers should be learning how to cook! Have them pick a recipe and make it. Teens busy + dinner made.

  49. I learned this technique while writing a really big, technical paper for a particularly difficult course:
    Once every hour (or two hours, depending on how difficult it is for you to reimmerse yourself in what you’re doing), get up. Walk away. Set your watch, or an egg timer, or whatever, for 10-15 minutes. Now move around. Walk briskly, or run up and down the basement stairs a couple of times, do a little yoga- whatever suits your fancy. But its very important that you move your body. It gets your blood circulating, sends more oxygen to your brain, and releases endorphins.
    I promise, this really works. You come back to your work feeling more relaxed, less frantic, and with the energy to press on.

  50. You’ve written how many books and they still ask you stupid questions?
    More knitting time is definitely in order.

  51. Why Stephanie, I do believe that may be the very first cat picture you’ve ever put on the Internet! Congratulations for holding out so long, and good luck finishing – I’m slogging through an endless freelance writing project that makes me feel the same way (though there’s none of the knitterly adulation at the end).

  52. Aren’t the girls (and the boy) old enough to learn to cook for themselves (and you)? Just tell them you are forcing them to learn survival skills while you are still around to provide pizza money when the dinner THEY provide is not up to standards.

  53. Those girls definitely need to learn to cook. I hardly have to lift a finger in the kitchen any more. I do have to lift my voice a fair amount though. They don’t clean up after themselves unless threatened.

  54. I’m anxiously awaiting the next book. I know you’re waiting on my $12.95 to make it all worthwhile. Are you going to do a book of patterns someday? Seriously, I’ll buy anything you put out. You could make a can of cheeze whiz with a picture of some yarn on the cover, and I would buy it (though not necessarily eat it).

  55. Um, not on a spindle or a wheel…rotate the chair in a brisk fashion…oh, nevermind.

  56. This too shall pass.
    Anyone who could see those papers lying on the floor has no reason to ask about dinner.
    Your cat has the same expression on her face as mine does when I ask her to remove herself from my desk chair.
    Mine jumps in the chair the minute I vacate it.
    We’ve had some close calls if I am just standing to reach something and then go to sit back down!
    I hope you get to do a little bit of relaxing knitting soon.

  57. I can’t wait to read this book. I could not put the other three down πŸ™‚
    Look forward to seeing you in New York next month!!!

  58. you know, as crazy and stressful as your life sounds right now, I’d love it! Im a writer who doesn’t… write. Well, who hasn’t meaningfully written in a year and a half. I have barely any soul left, but I think a teeny bit came back just reading about the frenzy of deadline right now. You’ll make it, and it’ll be good – go go go! (more coffee! more coffee!)

  59. My first thought was…and there are only 4 months until Christmas, when is she going to have time to do her holiday knitting? I think you deserve some knitting time all to yourself when you get the book done. Take care of yourself, it’s supposed to be fun!

  60. I don’t think there’s any question whose office chair that is — definitely the cat’s! Very intimidating look on her face.
    Answer the question about starting dinner with another question — Do you want me to finish this book so you can enjoy dinner in the future?
    Then sit down with chocolate, and don’t share!

  61. I think you are remarkably lucky that the cat is sitting on the chair–any one or all three of mine would be planted in the middle of the manuscript spread on the floor, tearing each page to shreds so that they can toss the pieces in the air and pretend that they’re alive as they float down.

  62. Inhale…….Exhale……Inhale……Exhale……
    Grab the beer opener (or wine if you prefer)
    Inhale……Exhale……Flip or twist opener…..Inhale……Exhale……*Left beverage to lips…..Drink……Exhale……Wipe lips……
    Repeat at * until beverage is consumed….Cast off.
    Seriously, I don’t know how you do it and stay sane. Bless you!

  63. I (almost) feel guilty that you have to deal with such stress to supply something that helps lower the stress level in other knitters. I work at a university, this is the first week of class, I’m fielding similar crazy questions from students, and I really, really, really, wish I had a new book from you to read. But yes, extra knitting time would also help! Hang in there and THANKS!!

  64. And how many days until school starts and those girls are gone for hours on end? πŸ˜‰ (School starts here on Friday!)

  65. I have some homemade macaroni and cheese cooking in my crockpot and a 6er of bock in the fridge. Want to come over here for dinner?
    No Flat Scout?!?!?

  66. And I thought my schedule was hectic! I felt pressure just looking at those pages spread out! Keep on keepin’ on, you’ll make it!

  67. Go, Go, Go, Go, Go…..get a bottle of Stella and chug it down!
    Follow this plan in moderation, as it can quickly turn pure crap into the most clever saying ever put to pen by man or woman.

  68. Aw, geez. Knowing better than to ask you any question, I present the following possibly stupid remarks for your consideration:
    1. We love you.
    2. We will love you no matter how many more books you write. “No matter how many” includes 0.
    3. But if you do write more books we will buy them. Lots and lots and lots of them. And never ever mention the typo on page 143, because we love you. And bring wine and chocolate to your book signings. (To give it to you.)
    4. Also yarn and fiber.
    5. We love you.

  69. You’ve got the “GRIT” Stephanie so no problem. You can handle whatever life throws your way. That includes the hard work you are doing on the manuscript , dealing with family members Wahsies that don’t work and knitting that hits a snag. You’ve already proven that you can do it –ONE day at a time. We ‘re all pulling for you .

  70. I have written a lot of papers through the years, and have written and published on book. And there is nothing worse, I repeat for your teens, nothing worse than interrupting a writer in the midst of thought. (Now weeping and swearing may be an exception–but they could just smile and nod.)
    And I always thought there was no such thing as a stupid question πŸ™‚ But to the kids I say–yes your mom really loves you! Give her a hug and tell her to keep on keepin’ on.

  71. “5. Are you thinking about making dinner?
    (I find that staring the questioner down while creating an awkward silence works well here.)”
    It certainly works on my Dear John. He once asked me that after a long, hot weekend working with my coven. It was hot like it *meant* it, too.
    I am a gal of small stature – 5’1″ and slender. My sweetheart is 6’3″ and quite broad. I stared him down with the glare of a thousand suns. He was like butter.
    I think he ended up ordering Chinese food.

  72. Aack, as to above comment about papers, book and interrupting a writer, I meant to say I published one book, NOT on book.

  73. My favorite is, “Are you busy?” Um, yeah. I’m busy!!!! Love that one. We can all use more knitting time. Hang in there. It will no doubt be brilliant and worth all the caffeine shakes and tears.

  74. you’ll make it πŸ™‚ we have the utmost faith in you – and btw, that seems to be a Cat thing. My Cat also likes to debate with me whose chair it is – even when I am presently occupying said chair!

  75. it’s incredible how funny you can be when you are in this condition… at least that is a good sign that the book will be hilarious! πŸ™‚ i’m imagining the floor scene and thinking of cutting my thesis into pieces to move sections around… a MUCH smaller scale project and still rough times! i also have to ask… whatever is that loveliness on the back of the chair? and what a good cat for not sinking claws into it!

  76. looks to me like the only issue you loose on , really, is between you , the cat and the chair. that is one you will never win.

  77. Oh geez – you sound just like my mother when she is writing (she wrote a dictionary of marine science, which is not nearly as amusing as your books). Cursing, swearing and tearing of hair usually ensues. I’m glad she shipped off the last manuscript…

  78. Nothing seems insurmountable…except the kitty.
    Have a glass or three of wine and exhale.
    Trust me…

  79. I’m sure the book will be extra spiffy. It feels weird to say this, but thanks for putting all that effort into books for us. It might appear cleverly disguised as a “way to make a living,” but ask any knitter: it’s so much more, for your adoring public. πŸ™‚

  80. The last time anyone asked if I was thinking of making dinner, I politely pointed behind me in the direction of the kitchen and told him “The Milk-Bones are over there”. (our endearing term for being in the doghouse is “being on a Milk-Bone Diet”.
    Things could be worse. For example:
    Temp could be 46C with no air conditioning
    The cat could have left a present on your office chair
    Sheep could become hairless or extinct
    Someone could be pawing through your stash without prior blessing
    Someone could haveswitched out your coffee with decaf
    See? Doesn’t the pile of papers look smaller? Don’t the questions seem less stupid? I didn’t think so….

  81. Oh, I feel your pain. That photo looks very similar to what my living quarters looked like in college and grad school, when I was working on large scale papers. Except I’d also get out the scissors and cut out paragraphs, to rearrange things as necessary. Kind of like the writing equivalent of steeking, I guess.
    Stephanie, you have enough stuff written to print it out and spread it all over the living room floor. My question for you: Doesn’t that feel great? You’re farther along than you think you are. It will all be fine. And of course there was always my favorite motivator: Think of how glorious life will be when you’re DONE DONE DONE!

  82. Stephanie, best of luck. It will be marvelous and sell a million copies.
    If you lived close, I’d bring expresso for ya, and a bunch of mediocre casseroles for the kiddos.
    Keep pluggin’ along, it’ll be over soon!

  83. The chair is the cat’s, sad to say. It’s in all of their contracts, right underneath the “you’re not allowed to move if I’m on your lap” clause.

  84. I often ask the one of four cats that I find in my chair, “Who feeds you?” Jim does, get out of my chair. End of discussion. Sounds like you have everyone else under control also. Good luck.

  85. As Bela said, “You can dooo it!”
    The light’s at the end of the tunnel (and no, it’s not a train).
    So is the deadline before Sept 9th? ‘Cause I’m going to be seeing you in Calif that day and I’m not sure how I’d handle it if you stared me down while creating an awkward silence after waiting who knows how long to get a book (or three) signed.
    But seriously, sit on the cat, keep the coffee IV filled, and you’ll be done before you know it. We’re all rootin’ for you.
    See you in a few weeks!

  86. I think I’ve got the answer to both of our problems… I’ll do your revisions and you do mine. Come on…you know you’re tempted. Wouldn’t fiction be a nice break for you? I’ve even got some nice organic sumatran coffee here and a baby to cuddle.

  87. Isn’t this where you would normally start drinking screech (is that what it’s called?). I would add that, and some chocolate too. We love what you do, and we’re out here rooting for you!

  88. Mmmm… all those pages and pages of harlotty goodness.
    *resists temptation to blow up the picture really really big to cop a sneak preview, knowing it wouldn’t work*
    But surely you know that “How’s it going” is just a conversation starter, an invitation to vent some stress? That happened all the time with my students: There were kids who would chew off their own arms rather than take the initiative to approach me with a question or problem, but the minute I said *anything,* anything at all (Nice weather we’re having. How ’bout them Penguins?), to them, out came the flood of confusion and need for reassurance. I usually used “How’s it going?” (Even if your family doesn’t mean it that way, act as if they did. They will swiftly learn not to ask the question unless they want the answer.)
    But, ya, any utterance along the lines of #4 or #5 deserves The Look.

  89. No one judges the baby by what her mother said or did during childbirth. And no one with any sense would address a laboring woman with #2-5.
    Question #1 is the sign of people who aren’t aware of the birth process. I advise your family to substitute any of the following: 1. May I rub your feet? 2. What sort of chocolate would you like? 3. Shall I remind you now of reason #685 that I admire you, or would you rather hear that later? 4. Whom shall I hurt for you?

  90. I think question 5 could be referred back to the answer in question 2 with regard to pizza money…all you do is throw your wallet/purse/piggy bank/change jar at whomever it is asking and turn back to your manuscript. If it (wallet/purse/piggy bank/change jar) hits them in the head, hopefully it will knock some sense/cents into them ;o)

  91. I would toss that brazen looking cat (hopefully he’s declawed) out of your office. He definitely looks as if he owns the place. You don’t need any inconsiderate mammals around at this stressful time. Go for a brisk walk, come back and sip some chocolatini. And for goodness sake, don’t worry about posting. We all understand about deadlines and stress. We can see the gansey later.

  92. I’m with Naomi, Marianne, and The Oracle, wondering what the gorgeous orangy thing on the back of the chair is, but happy to wait for an answer until after your book deadline. I can’t offer any advice on writing and stress — I survived my doctoral thesis on a diet of rice krispie treats. Packaged ones, not even homemade. Pizza sounds lots healthier.

  93. As you so obviously (obviously) enjoy the entire harrowing novelling experience, you should check out Nation Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! Write 50,000 words in the 30 caffinated days of November!

  94. I have two questions I ask at my house.
    1. Is anyone bleeding?
    2. Is the house on fire?
    If the answer to either of these is no.. they are instructed to figure it out on there own.
    Good luck with the book, and you must tell us about that lovely orange wrap on the back of your chair.

  95. I don’t usually comment here (I figure the hundreds of others who do have probably already said everything), but I had to for this one. I hate to say it, but I’m not sure it really is a debate about whose chair that is. It’s really the cat’s, you know, and he/she just allows you to sit on it. As someone who is going to be going through a similar mental state next week (in front of co-workers, even), all I can say is that I hope you have enough chocolate and wine in the house, or you can send one of those irritants out for more! You’re almost done!

  96. I always hated writing deadlines. I never could approach it chronologically. Finally, I decided that getting the stuff out on paper took precedence over it making chronological sense when it came out. That’s what cut and paste on the computer is for. My “brilliant” openings always came out last.

  97. Good luck with the writing, Stephanie!!
    And remember – this is not “crazy”, this is your CREATIVE PROCESS.
    Folks should stay out da creative process’s way, less’n they wanna get rolled…. πŸ˜‰

  98. Yooo caaan doo eeet!!!!
    *does the happy writer dance*
    Send the cat over here. I’ve got an office chair she can take over while you use yours. πŸ™‚ You know she’d enjoy Texas.

  99. It’s funny…the cats must have an office chair thing going on, because I debate that same issue with Milo on a thrice-daily basis, at least!!

  100. So, do you think if I start campaigning now for Halifax to be on the book tour even before the book is published that it might work? Just tell me who to write to.

  101. That’s the same debate I have with my almost 4 year old son. Cats and kids are remarkably alike.

  102. There are very few people on the planet who can laugh (deliriously yes, but it’s still laughter) with you on this and totally get where you’re coming from.
    I stand with you yet apart from you so that we can both get our shit done!

  103. You do need more knitting time! Especially if you can feel your hair grow….I wonder how much coffee one must drink in order to feel one’s hair grow? Reminds me of the Futurama episode where one of the characters decides to drink 100 cups of coffee.

  104. Best of luck to you! Accept the fact that the chair is the cat’s and you are not likely to ever win that battle. We’re all cheering you on!

  105. I don’t know, that cat looks pretty mean. If you’re on the floor anyway, perhaps you can just give him/her the chair and avoid bloodshed…
    Good luck! You can do it! Rah, rah! I know this part of writing, it’s difficult, but it will end!

  106. Okay, maybe you need to remind the cat that her place is on your pillow – which you are currently not using.
    So, um, how’s it going? πŸ˜€

  107. You need a massage. I happen to be a massage student (formerly licensed in another state, though). You’ll be in Eugene in about two weeks.
    Seriously. It’d be my pleasure.

  108. Command to family: “The only things I want to hear about from you will involve the words ‘inoperable’ or ‘indictment.’ Everything else you handle yourself.”
    Re: cat/chair. Chair belongs to cat. You are chair-warmer. End of debate.
    In the immortal words of The Count, “Don’t forget to breathe!” We’re all pulling for you, Stephanie honey, you are The Best. We know you can do it. Just tell us where to send the chocolate.

  109. Thanks Stephanie… It is now 3 am and I am finally going to try to go to sleep… your post was the last thing on my list before bed. I feel finally that there is someone who understands me. My thesis is due in a few weeks, I am sleep deprived, I cry over papers in my living room, my children/husband/friends are feeling neglected, and the word cranky has been tossed about a fair amount. Thank you for letting me know there is someone out there who understands… I was beginning to think no one possibly could. The only difference is I am projectless during this trying time… I have tried to start several things, but alas… I think I am to far gone for that…
    I will put hope into the world for you, may you be brillant as you write, and finish on time.
    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

  110. Just relax, you’ve done this before and you can do it again. Remember to take breaks and breathe and it will all come to you.
    By the way, your last book was really great!

  111. You’ll want to celebrate that finished book by touring it in Hawaii…we’re waiting for you! Our knit nights are Thursdays at Mocha Java cafe, and your coffee would be on us. We’d buy your beer, too!

  112. Just want to thank you for your March 1st post of 2004.
    Yup, the scarf heard round the world. I’m knitting that scarf now out of pink/blue/purple/yellow/green snowflake yarn. And my daughter and 2 of her friends all want it!!
    Good luck getting work done!!

  113. Go Steph GO! You can do it! Deadlines cower in your presence! The book is in your brain already and you just have to push it out.
    I suggest Lamaze breathing.

  114. I’ve been asking myself this week why we put ourselves through such hell on these things. I mean, yeah, I can think of all kinds of worthwhile reasons we do it… but I also wish I could do it with more class – like write and design and work… and still have time to go to yoga and make myself something for dinner other than microwave nachos.
    Take good care of yourself – the body needs lots of protein on days like these. Nuts, yogurt, tvp – eat healthy, and you’ll do great on your tour.
    best – keep on keepin on…

  115. My cat sits on my work chair too. He looks at me so pitifully if I try to boot him off…I usually decide that only 1/16th of my buttocks need to be on the chair so as not to disturb his slumber.
    Good luck with everything…it sounds like the end is in sight.

  116. Knowing you are a Johnny Depp fan;
    Aren’t book deadlines like “The Pirate’s Code”…. more like “guidelines”? You should call Johnny and compare notes

  117. Yep – Squeek thinks that $200 chair was purchased just for her too… and that those skeins of sock yarn are her babies, to be carried around in the middle of the night while yowling through them at the top of her lungs…

  118. I know that this is your personal pain and all, but I almost peed myself laughing so hard! You manage to capture the exact situation with such honesty and humor, and I just love it. Longtime reader finally unlurking! Thank you for sharing your life.

  119. AGGH…I must go quick off to the therapist/yarn store. Bad memories of math textbook writing father and the mood rollercoaster he went on before a deadline….memories are starting to re-surface. Am twitching now…oh can’t twitch and do lace work. My sympathies for all involved.

  120. You will, of course, survive and thrive as always. I do suggest that once this one’s finished, you come visit me for a while….we can sit on the balcony and drink coffee and knit whilst watching the clouds float across the Rhein River valley…very relaxing!
    Besides, there is some fab sock yarn here in Germany you should really sample. Really. You should. πŸ™‚

  121. Cat solution: get one of the girls to knit a cat bed from Cat Bhordi’s books.
    Felt it, then put catnip/catmint in the very bottom.
    Place on cat-safe high surface.
    Close cat in office without the office chair for a couple hours.
    After noises cease, cautiously open door, and insert office chair.
    Or, threaten to replace live cat with stuffed cat. Not as satisfying as a lapful of purring love, but makes a great threat.

  122. Last night my friend came over. His 75 year old mother fell and broke her arm last week, and she’s going crazy. She’s burned through all the “Cat Who” books in a week… she can’t crochet, she can’t knit, she can’t do dishes, she wants to kill people. I sent her your first two books and some angora yarn to fondle. I assured him that it would help.
    So… Thanks, Crazy Lady’s Family, from those of us who enjoy her books and my friend, whose mother won’t kill him now.

  123. I can’t stand this kind of pressure for my 9-5 job, but I rather thrived on it as a student. I know I miss those days because I’m not in the midst, and I do like the structure of a regular workweek, but sometimes I think — wouldn’t it be nice to work for myself and be creating for a career…

  124. Last night my friend came over. His 75 year old mother fell and broke her arm last week, and she’s going crazy. She’s burned through all the “Cat Who” books in a week… she can’t crochet, she can’t knit, she can’t do dishes, she wants to kill people. I sent her your first two books and some angora yarn to fondle. I assured him that it would help.
    So… Thanks, Crazy Lady’s Family, from those of us who enjoy her books and my friend, whose mother won’t kill him now.

  125. Steph, we all TOTALLY APPRECIATE what you go through to write books for us!! Really. I am already looking forward to reading every word you write on this next book. Thank you! You go, Girl!

  126. You’re the best, Stephanie!
    (My cat can often be found in the same position. Mere seconds after I leave the chair, actually.)

  127. Stephanie, before book 5 (yes, there will be) teach them the 3 Permissible B’s of Interruption: Burning, Bleeding or Blue. Of course, if they actually follow those guidelines, you won’t be able to write posts like this one.
    I, too, would like to put in a plea for patterns.

  128. OH To A-Muse
    (To be read with a tall beer and a short lisp- er- lith-p)
    There once was a writer named Steph
    for whom coffe was like crystal meth
    she drank it all day
    as she wrote away
    Because when it comes to Knit Wit she is the best (er- beth-t)!
    You Go Girl ( and may the farce be with you…)

  129. Thank you. I can’t wait to see the finished book, I love the other three so much.
    In my house when I’m in the zone my daughter is only allowed to bother me if there’s blood involved or something tomato-based is in her eye.

  130. 1. Chocolate
    2. Screech (just before you finally stagger to bed, whenever that may be).
    3. More chocolate.
    4. iPod or equivalent, turned up loud enough you can’t hear all those silly questions. (Actually, that should probably be #1. I find it’s an amazing tactic. Plus helps keep you awake.)
    5. The cat is just serving as a chair-warmer, really; she realizes you’re on the thin edge, and she’s doing you a favor. (No, I don’t believe that either. Just pick her up and move her. She’ll be so surprised she won’t have time to react, especially with you on caffeine-enhanced superspeed. If she does something in retaliation, tell the girls to deal with it. That’ll keep ’em busy.)
    6. Have we said thank you lately? Thanks, Stephanie!
    7. Sending virtual Johnny Depp – or Captain Sparrow – with massage oils. And sword to fend off boarders. Just watch him around the Screech.

  131. This sounds like a serious situation. Pull out the big guns – get some really good chocolate. Send the girls out to grab you some.

  132. I know…let’s all help Steph. I’ll write one page, you can write another. If 300 of us work on it, we’ll have a healthy tome in no time!

  133. The cat looks like it’s ready to give you the “claw”. Cheer up, it’ll be over soon!

  134. Is anybody else besides me really nervous about seeing all those pages piled neatly everywhere? Because in this house they wouldn’t stay that way for very long. In fact, they wouldn’t last an hour. I would find a child, dog, or cat tramping in a circle making a nest in the rumpled pages that were knocked to the floor “on accident”, or a coffee cup making a nice ring on a finished copy. *shudder*
    P.S. Screaming insanely “Don’t you know I have a DEADLINE????” while rattling paperwork at them ususally scares them away for like five minutes at a time. Try it.

  135. I’m working on a book too (although I’m not nearly as productive as you are, and the book is longer, and in short there are small children alive, playing, and speaking in complete sentances who had yet to be born when I undertook the monster) and I would like to reiterate that the evilest, most vile question anyone can ask me is “When will it be done?”/”Are you almost done yet?”/”Is that your final draft?” I want to hit people who ask me that question. One day, I will snap and do so.

  136. You can do eeeet, Steph! Seriously, you can.
    Walked past the Barnes & Noble in Park Slope last night and saw your picture in the window, advertising the Brooklyn stop on your tour – can’t wait! πŸ™‚

  137. Forgive me if I missed something, but is this the much anticipated 4th book to come from you? COOL! Keep your chin up… or at least out of the coffee mug.

  138. I particularly love the approach to that age-old dinner question! Hang in there, you have experience under your belt and you will certainly make it.

  139. I know it won’t help at the moment, but I will bring you chocolate when you are here in Seattle to help you forget the all demanding deadline, at least for a while.

  140. Here’s some encouragement: I turned my first heel because of book #3. Thank you, Sensei.

  141. We all appreciate the pain and franticness of what you are going through to create this book! Keep this in the back of your mind as the last few edits are completed.

  142. In moments of stress and crisis, I can usually handle interruptions, particularly those of family members with answers to these two simple questions…
    Are you breathing?…YES
    Are you bleeding?….NO
    Then Go away!!!!
    Of course if you get the opposite answers to these questions then you’re screwed but at least you’ll have several hours of knitting time to look forward to while waiting in the ER.
    Focus Steph Focus…the Finish line is in Sight.
    (It’s all over your living room floor but at least you can see it!)

  143. Your brain exploded and no one told me?
    I thought we discussed this. The extent of shit magnetism is really getting out of hand. Take Rachel H up on her offer, whatever it is, now, before it’s too late.
    Oh, and I’m thinking an enormous hug in your direction. To, you know, counteract the caffeinated centrifugal force.

  144. If you want to see what someone else looks like at the end of writing a book, we are having a book launch party while you are on tour in NYC. You want to come hang out with knitters while we eat and drink and knit and celebrate a book? Do you? We’ll have beer…

  145. Hi Stephanie,
    If you find yourself reading this at the time it’s posted…it’s time to shut down the computer and get ready for bed! Brush teeth, put on t-shirt or nightwear of choice. Then lie on some carpeted floor with knees bent and feet flat; let your hips rock slightly side to side for a while to release your low back and hips. Then have your lower body still while you rock your upper body gently -while holding your hands to opposite shoulders as if in a hug. Enjoy the massage on your upper back with this part. Take the time to do this for a few minutes…if the cat comes to join you, rub heads in greeting. When you are relaxed enough to go to bed, roll over and crawl off to bed. Sweet dreams.

  146. As a fellow writer, I feel your pain.
    Someone up there in the comments said that “the look” works better over glasses, and I agree.
    “How much did you do today?” always makes me screech — as though writing productivity is measured in page output rather than word craftsmanship.
    My own VERY favorite Question For Writers is:
    “Whatcha doin’?” This is invariably asked when you are TRYING TO REMEMBER THE PERFECT PARAGRAPH while bent over the keyboard typing so fast that keys are popping off, so you can commit it to a file before it slides completely out of your mind. “What does it LOOK like I’m doing? No, I’m not writing … I’m trying to scare a roach out from under the keyboard by banging on it! No, wait, that’s not it … I know … I’m testing the sensitivity of earthquake detectors in California by banging on the keyboard!!!!”
    My rules are:
    1. Do we need to call the police, a veterinarian, an ambulance, a plumber or the fire department?
    2. Has a hurricane evacuation been called, or is a tornado touching down on this block at this very moment?
    3. Is anyone missing in a way that is out of the ordinary?
    4. Has Neil Young or Tom Petty stopped by hoping to borrow a guitar string?
    5. Is anyone deceased?
    No, no, no, no and no? Good. Leave me alone.
    Hey, your cat says she’s not debating ownership of the chair, she’s just keeping it warm for you so you don’t get a bout of pneumonia caused by butt-chill from sitting on cold chairs. Pet the cat. Feel the calm cat vibes. Go write some more. You can do this!
    All writers and artists should live alone, with cats, in a garrett with rickety stairs that frighten off visitors, and plenty of absinthe.

  147. I just have to tell you that I absolutely love reading your blog, and that while I passed your book up last week for the sock book I have been jonesing for for almost 6 months, I fully intend to go back and buy it, because if it’s even half as funny as your blog, I have got to have it…I looked for it at the library, but alas, didn’t find it…but I’m going to keep hunting. Don’t give up, you can do it. If you had a dog you could take it for walks and get your juices flowing and get away from the “stupid” question patrol…lol.

  148. If I lived closer, I would drop off some of my Jersey Tomatoes on your door step with some basil. This is a quick no nonsense meal with several options. Who says women cannot multitask. cecilia

  149. No you don’t have time to blog, I have seen your tour schedule and you have three children, husband and pets. Blogging can wait, we knitters are patient people . . . as long as we have yarn.

  150. Be strong… it’s almost over. (I hope that’s a helpful nod of encouragement because I’m using it on my husband daily while he finishes writing his PhD dissertation. Hopefully only 2 weeks of work left for you both.)

  151. You can do it. And I plan on seeing you when you come to CT in November and if you like, I can get you really drunk after πŸ™‚ I especially like the part about the kids needing to leave you alone. I was only trying to get a blog entry done today with only two kids and i think I dittoed you without realizing it.

  152. Family lore has it that I gathered up my aunt’s thesis, which was spread out on the floor much like manuscript, when I was about 18 months, all the while muttering the toddler version of “goodness gracious.”
    So, at least no toddlers at your place.

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