Snippet No. 4

Sitting at her desk that evening, Skylar’s fingers danced on the keys of her laptop.  She was determined to finish the Motion for Summary Judgment in the Bally matter, which was a complex commercial lease case. Mr. Bally was the CEO of a company that owned multiple commercial properties around the city. Many millions of dollars were riding on this case because the tenant had skipped out after only eight months on a five-year lease. An added problem was the fact that the tenant had also made material alterations to the property, leaving it in a condition that was going to require six figures in repairs and modifications. When Lipstein handed her the file last spring he had been ominous. He had held the file in a tight grip after Skylar reached out to take it, releasing it into her hands only after saying to her in a very serious tone, “Mind this one closely, Battelle. Treat this client like you would your own child; one for whom you will need to care and nurture for years to come.” 

Skylar stopped typing to take a bite of the cold pad thai delivered to her an hour before. Strange, she thought, that Lipstein wanted her to treat a multi-million dollar company like a child. To say it was a reach to do so was an understatement. Skylar loved kids and working for a faceless corporation was about as far from a mother-child relationship as you could get. For her it was, anyway. To Skylar, Lipstein’s remarks translated to mean that she needed to work really hard and give the client everything she could. Mr. Bally was high maintenance to say nothing of his intense demeanor, but Skylar had figured out how to handle him by now. Plus, Mr. Bally liked her.

She had been putting in tons of hours on the case and knew Lipstein was quietly watching her.  Now that she knew he was passing her up for work and instead giving it to Marisa, she was going to put in all the time she could on this case. That meant staying at the office even longer than she normally did. That meant racking up billable hours. She had planned to prepare the Motion for Summary Judgment next week so she could focus on other cases this week. But Bally was more important to Lipstein. Despite being late, her meeting with Mr. Bally had gone quite well. Skylar had left Bally’s and returned to the office to work on the motion since her depositions had been canceled. Seven hours later she was still at it. It was 9:30 and she was exhausted. 

She chucked the to-go container into her trash can with only half of its contents eaten. If she was going to finish this motion, chocolate was in order. Skylar got up out of her chair and stretched, feeling her vertebrae crack in several places. Sitting at a computer for hours on end really did a number on her body. For a second she went through a thought process about how a trip to the gym would be far better than stuffing her face with chocolate at the moment, but she quickly dismissed it. If she was going to work all hours of the day and into the night, she deserved it.

She pulled opened the top drawer of her desk, rifling through its contents. Checking all of her drawers without success, Skylar walked out into the hall in pursuit of chocolate hidden in someone else’s desk. She knew her assistant, Lisa, was on another diet so she did not bother looking in hers. Down the hall on the right was Valerie’s office. There was a good chance there would be some sweets in her desk. Valerie was a paralegal who did good work but had a terrible attitude. She was never happy and was always complaining about something. She was also known to drink too much. Her husband of less than two years had left her for a younger co-worker of his. Valerie was refusing to negotiate with him so their divorce was still dragging, and she was extremely bitter. 

The hall lights were out since it was so late, and the only lights still shining were the exit signs and various tiny green, blue and red lights on computer monitors, printers, phones and other electronics around the office. Skylar slowly walked into Valerie’s office and turned on the light with a loud, click. She headed straight for the bottom right drawer in her desk, wondering for a second why she still had her high heels on when nobody was around and her feet were so tired. She forgot about her sore feet when she saw what she was looking for. Jackpot. M&Ms and a bag of chocolate kisses. Skylar reached in for a small handful when she heard a noise in the hallway.

She froze. Who could be here now, this late? Everyone had gone home hours ago and security wasn’t due back around for at least another 45 minutes. She didn’t move, trying to listen for another sound. And then she heard it. A slow, very quiet swishing sound was making its way down the hall. Her heart was thumping so loudly Skylar put her hand filled with the chocolates up to her chest as if to muffle it. The noise was getting closer. She looked down, ready to jump under Valerie’s desk to hide. But she felt like she was stuck in quicksand. She couldn’t move her legs to do it.

“Hey babe,” said Jordy as he popped his head in the doorway. “What are you up to in here?”

“Oh, Jesus! You scared the life out of me, Jordy!” Skylar straightened herself up and took a deep breath. She held up her hand full of chocolate kisses and replied, “Chocolate fix. Highly critical to my productivity this late.”

“Mmm-hmm. Does Val know you swipe from her stash?” Jordy said, raising an eyebrow.

“Nope.” Skylar popped a kiss in her mouth. “And she doesn’t need to. You want one?”

“Sure, thanks,” he replied as he reached out. Skylar tossed a kiss at him.

“Have you been here all this time?” She asked with a mouth full of delicious chocolate.

“Yeah, you know, trying to get some things done to jump start my morning tomorrow. But, I’m headed out of here. I’m going to meet somebody for a drink at The Asp. Care to join me?” He spun his Rolex around his wrist to check the time. “You can’t possibly be staying much longer.” Skylar heard something different in his voice and felt a little uncomfortable. Jordy stepped closer and reached out to touch her arm, raising his glance to meet hers. “Come out with me,” he said in a low tone.

Skylar stepped back, pretending to fumble with the chocolate wrapper. “I…I can’t. I’m working on a motion so I’m here for the long haul. You know how it is,” she said a little too tartly.

“Oh, c’mon,” said Jordy, “you’re only young once. You really need to get out more.” He looked at his watch impatiently and gave her a look that told her he thought she was a little pathetic.

Now thirty, Skylar sometimes felt fifty. She rarely spent nights out at restaurants and clubs like other thirty year-olds. When her friends did manage to get her out, she felt uncomfortable and reserved. Her friends often made comments like, “we need to loosen you up!” They were always trying to get her to go out and meet men. When she did, her friends gave each other looks throughout the night like they were in cahoots in coordinating some pathetic mission to fix her boring life. Skylar noticed. But dating didn’t interest her. She knew plenty of handsome, successful guys, but she had no interest in playing the dating game with any of them. It was no secret to her friends or her, for that matter, that she had forgotten how to have fun. Or maybe she never really knew. She reached in Valerie’s drawer to grab a few more kisses and then slammed the drawer shut. “Have a good time.” 

As she walked past him and headed to her office, she felt Jordy’s eyes on her ass.

“Hey, Skylar,” called his voice from behind her, “why is it that you never have a guy in your life?” The accusation in his voice was noticeable, stopping Skylar in her tracks.

She turned around slowly looking down at the floor, noticing the ridiculous gold and burgundy pattern in the carpet. “Not that I need to explain my life to you, I have had guys in my life,” she said, trying to ignore the violated feelings rising in her chest, “but none of them so far has proved to be worth keeping.”

“Really? Because honestly, and don’t take this the wrong way, it seems like you try pretty damn hard to shut people out of your life. At least, that is what you seem to do with me,” Jordy shrugged and smiled.

Skylar was floored. At first she thought he was just playing her like she had seen him do with so many women. He had tried to sleep with her before, but this was different. Looking into his eyes she realized he was being genuine. He seemed hurt.

“Jordy…I just…I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say,” she said, looking at the chocolates in her hand, feeling more than a little guilty for being curt with him. “I guess I’m not really open to a relationship right now. You know, being so busy with work and everything.”

Jordy straightened up and laughed. “Relationship? Is that what you think? Nah, sweetheart. I just figured we could have some fun. Lord knows you could use some,” he said with a wink. “Your loss, babe. I’m off then, but before I go, how about a little kiss?” He cocked his head and gestured for her to come plant one on his willing lips.

Fucking Jordy. Rather annoyed but not exactly surprised, Skylar held back from swearing him up and down. Instead, she took a step and then slowly walked toward him. Jordy, trying not to look shocked that she was taking him up on his offer, leaned forward, reaching to take her hand and pull her in for the kiss. Skylar stepped closer, reached her hand out to his and then dropped a chocolate kiss into his palm.

“Muah.” She gave him a wicked smile, turned and darted into her office. 

Day 22 – Soft Monday

Day twenty-two of my 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: about an hour

Words: 1,000

I didn’t find any time to write during the day today, much to my frustration. When it became time to finally sit down to write tonight, I was pretty whipped and ready to go to bed. I decided to force myself to write for a while in exchange for letting myself have a “soft” Monday. No need to come out of the box hard the first day of the week. I accomplished some good writing this past weekend – more words down on the page in two days than I had done in a very long time. Because of that, I gave myself some slack. Hence, the soft Monday.

I still jammed out 1,000 words and now I’m going to get in bed fairly early. At least, before 11:00. In the meantime, I will read through some of my past writing to post a Snippet in the next day or so. Enjoy the night. 

Day 21 – Weekend writing challenge accomplished

Day twenty-one of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: ?

Words: 3,300

I did it! I successfully slayed the 5,000 word weekend writing challenge. Two days, 5,600 words. It feels great to push myself beyond my normal limits and see what more I can do. This was a good starting challenge. I think I’ll step it up a little next time.

I haven’t a clue as to how long I spent writing today because it was done in bits and pieces. I wrote for about an hour and a half tonight but the rest was broken up. Based on my word count, it probably added up to about 3 hours total. The good news is that I did find time to write during daylight hours today. It wasn’t exactly a ground-breaking change in routine for me, but it was good to not wait until the end of the day.

I often write after everyone has gone to bed, to eliminate distractions. Unfortunately, that is the time of day when I am most tired. I’m sure it isn’t ideal but it is what has worked for me on a regular basis. It would be nice to be able to get into a schedule of writing during the day when my mind is still somewhat fresh. But when? Beats the heck out of me. Mornings are crazy busy just to get everybody out the door, then I work all day, then I pick up kids and we’re home for dinner/spending time as a family/bedtime routine.

For now, I’m going to continue to work on finding time during the day to write. It really should be as simple as making time. 

Day 20 – A challenge is good

Day twenty of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: 2 hours 15 minutes

Words: 2,300

A little motivation goes a long way. Imposing a weekend writing challenge on myself has proven to be a worthwhile exercise so far. I still have another day to go but I found a good groove today and it felt great to push beyond my usual stopping point. What I didn’t do, however, was find time to write during daylight hours. Part of my goal this weekend was to write during the day instead of late at night. That didn’t pan out. But today’s writing was successful and I still have tomorrow.

In case you missed yesterday’s post, the challenge was to write 5,000 words this weekend. I’m about half-way there, so I’m in good shape to succeed. If I can do better than 5,000, I’ll be thrilled. Yes, I know 5,000 words isn’t that much. Baby steps, people. If all I had to do was sleep in, have some coffee and pancakes and then sit down at my leisure to write for hours uninterrupted, you can bet I would be setting the bar a hell of a lot higher. But that’s not my life. Not even close. Except for the coffee and pancakes part. You can bet that I’ll be doing THAT tomorrow. 

Day 19 – Weekend writing challenge

Day nineteen of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: just under 1 hour

Words: 950

With a quiet Friday night, one might think I could jam for hours on my laptop. If it wasn’t for the exhausting week I just had, that might have been the case. Instead, I found the lack of noise in my house – just the sound of a fan whirring from my bedroom and the rain outside the window – to be soothing. Too soothing, like the hum of a car on the interstate. To no one’s surprise, I ended up falling asleep at the wheel. I didn’t type nonsensical sentences or muck up the story this time. I simply called it quits earlier than I had planned. And that is okay. It’s late. I still got in an hour (almost) and with the weekend ahead of me, I hope to do some writing during daylight hours.

Shall I set a goal for the weekend? Oh, let’s have some fun. Let’s see if I can get 5,000 words done by the end of Sunday. I’ll be home with the kids this weekend (my husband will be gone all day Saturday) with not-so-great weather in the forecast, so this could really go either way. I am in the middle of painting trim in my house, so that is also on the agenda the next two days. But I’m up for a writing challenge. It’s not huge. Nothing overwhelming, but still a challenge for someone with a full plate. Who is with me? Let’s see if any of you other writers can get 5,000 done this weekend too. I’ll post my progress at the end of the day tomorrow and then again on Sunday. Wish me luck!

Day 18 – Wedgies and water

Day eighteen of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: 1.5 hours

Words: 1,350

Physical annoyances can be the worst distractions when writing. Like a persistent itch you can’t reach between your shoulder blades or a throbbing headache. Sometimes it is just tough to get physically comfortable when writing. Today was one of those times for me.

I’ll admit that I don’t have the best set-up when I sit down to write. Sometimes I sit at the kitchen table, sometimes I sit on my bed. Most of the time, I sit on the couch with my laptop literally on my lap, propped up with pillows behind my back. That is what I was doing tonight. But I was not comfortable.

I fidgeted the whole time I was writing, stopping periodically to stand up half-way and yank my yoga pants down. They were riding up a little too far…north. Why this happened over and over tonight when it usually isn’t a problem is beyond me. It was annoying. Then in a moment of deficient coordination I reached to take a drink of water without looking away from the screen, missing my mouth completely and dumping it down the front of me. The water ran down my cleavage like a water slide. It was cold. And I felt stupid. 

Despite these annoyances, I accomplished some good writing tonight. I like where the story is heading. So never mind the wedgies and water mishap. Focus on the writing and all will be fine. 

Snippet No. 3

The elevator door opened and Skylar pushed her way out, practically knocking over two other people. She felt a competitive rage overwhelm her. If there was anything that motivated her, it was the thought of losing. And losing she was. How could Lipstein give the One-Twenty-One matter to someone else? How could she get it back? There must be a way. She busted out onto the street and went straight for a cab pulling in front of the building. Someone yelled, “HEY!” as she stopped briefly to let the arriving passenger out and slipped into the back seat, slamming the door shut. She could hear a man yelling profanities outside but she ignored the noise and said to the cabbie firmly, “I have a thirty-dollar tip with your name on it if you can get me to 41st and Madison in less than ten minutes.”

“You got it, lady,” replied the cabbie in a thick New York accent.

Skylar smiled and sat back in the seat. If any cabbie had a chance of getting her to Bally’s in record time, it was probably this guy. The cab pulled away from the curb with a burst of acceleration, leaving the angry businessman madly gesturing in its wake. For a split second, Skylar thought she saw the man with the shiny black gloves again, standing on the sidewalk by the building watching her cab. But when she tried to get a better look, the man disappeared into the flow of pedestrians. That would have been odd, she thought, and then shrugged it off. Holding tight onto the door handle as the cab swerved through traffic, Skylar’s thoughts returned to Lipstein’s choice of Marisa over her. She still had her edge, damn it. She knew that was not the problem. What was it? Had she done any work that was sub-par? No, she knew her work was excellent and so was her effort. Something was not right. All she knew was she was going to get to the bottom of it.

The cab pulled over on 41st with twelve minutes on the meter. “Oh, so close,” said Skylar, handing the cabbie a ten on top of the fare.

“Hey lady, gimme a break, huh?”

“Here, I’ll split the difference,” she said as she tossed him another ten. Shutting the door as he replied to say thanks, she was off and running down the sidewalk. The cabbie leaned forward to peer over his steering wheel, noticing that she was running in high heels. He shook his head and drove away.

Day 17 – You can’t always plan your writing time

Day seventeen of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: 1.5 hours

Words: 1,550

Now that’s more like it. One thing I have learned from this project is that my usual writing pace is around 1,000 words per hour. Yesterday’s effort fell way short of my usual pace, due to my own poor choices around my writing time. I had no sooner decided last night to try to stick to one block of uninterrupted writing time per day, when I found myself wanting to write today at a really inopportune time. A time filled with distractions and interruptions: Dinnertime.

I felt inspired. I had some ideas bouncing around in my mind and I wanted to get back into the story. So I did…while I was cooking dinner and directing my kids to help out with cleaning and setting the table. WHAT. THE. HECK. Did I not learn anything from yesterday? Did I really just do exactly the opposite of what I had decided to do less than twenty-four hours ago? Yup. I put my laptop on the kitchen counter and knocked out about 500 words while I made dinner. 

My plan was to write after the kids went to bed, which I also did, but I felt such the need to write at that moment in the kitchen, I just went with it. It worked out fine. I guess you can’t always plan your writing time, just like you can’t always plan how your story will develop. An organic process is healthy, as odd and inconvenient as it may turn out to be. 

Side note: I have decided to share some short excerpts from the book I am writing. These will be raw, unedited pieces of work, but hopefully they will be somewhat interesting and enjoyable for some of you. Stay tuned for these “Snippets,” to be posted at random. 

Day 16 – Splitting time, splitting focus

Day sixteen of My 365 Day Writing Project

Time: roughly an hour and a half

Words: 1,000

Today was one of those days when my writing time was not devoted to just writing. I attempted to write a bit this morning when I was home with my kids. I got maybe 200 words down in 30 minutes. Dismal. There were too many interruptions and distractions. It just didn’t work. Tonight, I sat down to write some more. My husband was watching TV and I wanted to sit near him while I worked since we had not really seen each other all day. That was a bad choice. I got down about 800 words in over an hour. Again, there were too many distractions. It didn’t work well. I spent a lot more time on 1,000 words than I normally do, which is a testament to the importance of non-distracted, totally focused writing time.

Splitting my writing time into two different times today only caused me to split my focus. Although what I wrote ended up being decent in quality and substance (I hope), it was harder to get into the flow. I learned from today’s writing experience that I really need to try to devote one chunk of time per day. I also really need to isolate myself as much as possible to eliminate distractions and interruptions, which sometimes really isn’t possible. If I can do these things each day, I will be far more productive and will hopefully produce far better writing.

Some day I’ll revisit whether or not that ends up being true.

 

Day 15 – Two weeks down, lots of progress made

Day fifteen of My 365 Day Writing Project.

Time: 45 mins

Words: 850

With two weeks under my belt, I feel good about sticking with the project longer than…a few days. But then again, two weeks seems pretty short. I have fifty more to go. That’s a little tough to acknowledge. Even tougher is realizing that I have 350 more days to go. Like I said the first day, I’m not sure I can do this. I just have to remind myself that I’m doing it for no one else but me.

The only negative impact that will occur if I don’t make it through this project is that I will have short-changed myself and my goals. I will not have reached my goal to make writing every day a priority. And I will not have reached my goal to make the kind of progress on my book that I want to make. What is important for me to remember – two weeks or ten weeks or forty weeks in – is the positive impact I will experience from this project.

I’m not talking about the impact if I succeed in 365 days of writing. I’m talking about the positive impact if I fail. That’s right – if I fail, I may not have made writing every day a priority, but I will have made writing often a priority. If I fail, I may not have made the progress on my book that I set out to make, but I will have made great progress – a lot more progress than I would have made if not for this project.

I write for myself. I write these things here today to remind me later when I get discouraged: Trying and failing will bring me somewhere I would not have gone if I had not tried.

Two weeks down. Lots of progress made.