Independence: FAIL

In the spirit of the holiday, I decided I would declare my independence from STUFF this weekend and indulge in a mini-writer’s retreat sort of thing. Enjoy three whole days away from the office, detach from the monotony of the familiar, cut all ties to distractions. Make some real progress with re-write number– whatever, I’ve stopped counting.

In theory: Yay, go me! In practice? Yeah, not so much.

Of course, due to budget constraints, the “retreat” part of the weekend mostly meant sitting on the other end of the couch. Which, oddly, wasn’t nearly as comfortable. Apparently I list to the left.

So I made the bold move of relocating to the couch in the other room. This caused my elderly cat to think I had died or something, given that she perched on the back of my regular spot in the family room and yowled like her little heart was breaking. What the hell does she do when I go to work? Poor thing. So, back to the same old spot, where she promptly curled up at my hip, purred and went to sleep.

Then I tried sitting at the kitchen table. This offered a nice woodland view through the bay window, but odd arm/hand angles for typing. Horribly uncomfortable, but at least I wouldn’t doze off. Not that that’s ever a problem, my writing is absolutely riveting. Ahem. Then my cat came in to sit on the floor like a dark blot of indignation just at the edge of my field of vision, glaring at me like a feline Basilisk of Doom. Sigh.

So much for trying to physically retreat from the same old rut. Well, I could still detach from all the other distractions, right? Like the internet. I’ve heard about a program called “Freedom” that irrevocably disables your internet connection for a set period of time. But that sounds so . . . restrictive. Imposed freedom. Sort of the antithesis of independence.

Besides, this seemed like such a good time to catch up on all those oh-so-informative blog posts I’d been meaning to read. I had three whole days, how long could it take? And of course I had to comment on a couple. But no twitter. Well, okay, maybe a little twitter. But no email. Everyone could just wait. Only there were a few that really couldn’t. ARRRGH!!

But the phone, I could ignore that! Except for those three people whose calls I will never ignore. And sure enough, they all called me. Or texted me. Some more than once. But it was a long weekend, certainly I could devote a few minutes, or an hour or two, to family?

So here it is late on the third day and I’ve actually made good progress in spite of the universe and my cat trying to thwart me, but not as much as I’d hoped. And I’m sitting here thinking those rebels had it easy 235 years ago — they didn’t have to worry about gaining independence from the internet or their cell phones. Probably not from their cats either. No, all they had to do was write a little declaration thing. Not like it was an entire novel. Oh, and also fend off an attacking army and kill a few thousand of their oppressors. Piece of cake. Or pie.

Oh, PIE! Something shiny! Let’s have pie! Sour Cream Blueberry Pie to be exact. It’s a July 4th tradition in my house. But wait, I’ve declared my independence from that sort of thing. Plus I figure I still have several hours left of this long weekend. Plenty of time to defeat my oppressors and be all productive.

I have an idea: YOU MAKE PIE! My daughter made this one last weekend and texted me a picture of it. She’s so thoughtful sometimes. Doesn’t it look delicious?

Here’s the recipe. My sister-in-law gave it to me years ago, but I’m pretty sure she got it from Southern Living. No idea where they got it.

SOUR CREAM BLUEBERRY PIE

Ingredients

1 egg, beaten
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I use a bit more)
1/4 tsp salt

2-1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust
(you’re going to want to use a deep pie dish for this one)

Topping:

3 Tbsp flour
3 Tbsp butter, softened (room temp)
3 Tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts

Combine first six ingredients, beat 5 min at medium speed of electric mixer or until smooth.

Fold in blueberries (with spatula). Don’t over-stir, you’ll damage berries.

Pour filling into pie crust (I’m assuming you know to put the crust IN the pie dish before this step).

BAKE at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Combine remaining ingredients (use pastry cutter to mix flour & butter, it will be a sort of crumbly texture, not smooth, then add nuts). Remove pie from oven, sprinkle this mixture over top, return to oven.

BAKE for 10 additional minutes (or so) until topping sort of melts.

CHILL before serving. (also, store leftovers in the fridge, not that there will be any)

ENJOY.

You’re welcome!

So tell me, what traditions did you embrace over this long holiday weekend? Also, any advice you have for getting away from it all without actually, you know, going anywhere would be appreciated . . . now that my weekend “retreat” is almost over. Sigh.

19 Comments

Filed under goals, holidays

19 responses to “Independence: FAIL

  1. Melinda

    If I had a working oven I would definitely make that pie one of my new traditions! It looks yummmmmy. I did try to unplug this weekend, but I’ve found the only way to really do it is to leave the house, and leave the phone, iPad and laptop behind. This makes me feel vulnerable and naked. Of course, once I’m out of the house I’m not doing anything productive at all because I’m wandering around lost without my phone and iPad. It’s a vicious circle.

    And now that I’ve spent the long weekend “unplugged” I’m two days behind on a deadline, and absolutely nowhere on the next project. Sigh.

    My cat tries to make sure I can’t write by nudging my elbow with his head. And if I ignore that, he leaps onto the keyboard. He just doesn’t understand why I spend all day petting the keyboard instead of him!

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  2. My failure at “I will write 15,000 words/edit six chapters/clean the whole house and fix the back porch steps” goal-setting exercises on holidays are so utterly, carpet-bombingly complete, you just ought to file them under “Opposite Day” when I start talking that way. (This weekend, instead of editing 19 chapters, I watched all three seasons of True Blood and developed a Skarsgård obsession. At least I had never seen True Blood before–sometimes I do this with shows I’ve already seen. Oh hey, progress.)

    The way I don’t freak myself out is to commit to little things: I will open the manuscript that’s been mouldering in a drawer for six months (no promises what happens once it’s open), or I will write for 30 minutes and then check the mail (yeah, yeah, yeah, Sunday Schmunday). It’s never as dire as I anticipated, so I can hang around longer instead of kicking off the procrastination hormone. LIkewsie on the change of scene: new armchair, new notebook, front porch instead of back–even different computer wallpaper give me a little boost.

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  3. Melinda, I don’t think I could manage without a working oven. The kids would NEVER visit! My ideal definition of unplugged would be to take the phone and laptop but to leave the house (and the pets) for a week. After threatening anyone who called me with what turned out not to be an emergency. I actually did that last spring and got a ton of work accomplished. But it wasn’t cheap.

    Ann Marie, you are much more of an over-achiever than I could ever hope to be. All that AND clean the whole house? There’s no way. All I had on the schedule was to write. Nothing else, just write. Well, re-write. I guess I should have broken it down into chapters or scenes or something. I’d feel better if I could cross something off a list right about now. Like feed cat. Also, I think you’re going to have to fight Carolyn Jewel for Skarsgard. 8)

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  4. If a picture is worth a thousand words, that picture has got to be worth a thousand calories. Thank heaven they’re virtual calories.

    I spent the weekend wrestling with weeds. Most of the time, they won. Did you know people can be allergic to buttercups? They look so sweet and innocent — hah.

    Spending a weekend writing sounds much more efficient and probably involves fewer itchy rashes. Or so I sincerely hope.

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  5. Adrienne

    I’m so into Skarsgard. I love it when Eric and Sookie…wait. What was the topic? Tuning out distractions? I don’t think I’m too much help there. Usually, if I need to stop reading blogs, googling Skarsgard, I mean researching for my writing, or texting my sister goofy pictures of my kids, I let my boys play Angry Birds. But that always backfires. ‘Cause then they’re all, “It’s my turn now!”, and, “No! I’m not done!”, and I end up having to say I need to use my phone for something important. Then I’m right back where I started. Now, back to True Blood…

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  6. Hehehe Feline Basilisk of Doom! Love it!

    Ahem. Yes writing on a holiday weekend. Hard stuff, even with starting a new challenge (new to me anyway): ROW 80. I did manage a couple hundred words, but I spent more time with the family and playing Bejeweled Blitz than writing.

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  7. It’s been a bonus having my mom move in with us- she empties/fills the dishwasher (a job for some reason NO ONE wants to do) plus when she knew I had to get the synopsis done for a contest she looked at me and said, “Don’t you have something to write?

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  8. Melinda

    The non-working oven is hopefully a temporary thing, since it belongs to the temporary apartment we are in while we wait for our house to sell. I tried to get them to fix it but they started mumbling about knocking holes in walls. Pretty sure this stove/oven is from the 50s. I’ve been getting by with an electric skillet and a toaster oven. It feels like college! Especially if I run them both at the same time which makes the power go out.

    I like the idea of taking the iPad with me to someplace else. When I’m working on a new project I do that a lot. I just go somewhere local, and usually end up in Starbucks to people watch. Hey, those are characters! 😉

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  9. Melinda

    Oh and ditto the True Blood obsession. I don’t have HBO right now either and I’m in serious withdrawal!

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  10. You all are cracking me up with this Skarsgard obsession. Adrienne, I’m relieved I don’t get HBO and that I don’t have an iThing, so I’ve never seen TB and never payed Angry Birds — at least there are two distractions I don’t have to worry about.

    Melinda, I hope the house sells SOON so you can get back to normal. Well, as normal as things ever are for a writer.

    SD, can I have your mom for a while? Mine is the soul of pragmatic common sense and would say something like, “If you want to do it, then do it. If not, don’t.” Which is very true, but still.

    Jaleh, I had to google ROW 80 (because I assumed you weren’t just making stuff up to confuse me). It sounds interesting and I like that it allows for a variety of goals, not just word count. I hate to admit it, but that type of thing just becomes one more distraction for me, what with all the reporting and cheering others on. But I’ve heard it can be a great support system/motivator and hope it works for you! Anyone else who is interested, here’s a website explaining it: http://aroundofwordsin80days.wordpress.com/

    Merry, I’ll have you know that pie is chock full of blueberries which are packed full of . . . something healthy . . . anti-oxidants? So that cancels out the calories. If applied liberally, I’m pretty sure it would also kill weeds. THAT’S how awesome it is. (I’m glad we can’t get fresh blueberries year round. I’d be in big trouble.)

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  11. I’m a big girl and I can share my Skarsgard love. He is my One True Love and I understand the obsession others of you have with him. I have a sad for anyone who has not seen the hotness that is Alexander Skarsgard.

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  12. Well, I didn’t say I haven’t seen the hotness — I do occasionally (ahem) click on those links you post on twitter. I’ve just never seen TB.

    Then again, Raylan Givens is more my type . . .

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  13. Adrienne

    That’s very generous of you, Carolyn Jewel. I appreciate your generosity.

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  14. Adrienne

    Ha, ha! I just realized I said generous twice. This is why I don’t write past 10 P.M.

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  15. No worries, Adrienne. It’s the first work day after a long weekend, pretty sure we get a free pass on any attempts at coherency. That’s my excuse, anyway.

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  16. KD,
    Visiting from Joe’s blog because I liked your comment on his interview with Scott post that writers have other writers’ backs.
    Loved this Independence post, could eat that pie right about now and have not yet seen the hotness that is Alexander Skarsgard, so will have to take care of that later…;-)
    Since I want to write more, your blog is on a short list of ‘inspirational writing blogs to keep up with’… 😉

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  17. Hey, Angela, thanks for visiting! I do a lot of lurking over at Joe’s blog, so you caught a rare comment.

    I want you to write more too! Just not sure my blog is going to be particularly inspirational in that regard — I’m as likely to talk about my cat as I am about writing. But you’re certainly welcome to hang out here. The more the merrier. Or something. 8)

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  18. Mmmm, pie.

    That is all.

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  19. My daughter made that pie when she was here visiting last week. There is ONE PIECE LEFT and it’s in my fridge. But not for long.

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