Today I Am an Underachiever

by Diane Hammond

My to-do list states very clearly that right now I should be writing the excellent and thoughtful guest blog that Bill Kenower at so richly deserves. What I’m doing instead is writing lists.

It’s Monday, so my first list is really more of a space-and-time inventory:

  1. My daughter is on an Amtrak train back to college after a two-week spring break.

  2. I’ve dropped off my husband at work.

  3. Despite driving rain, I’ve walked and made much of our dogs, especially the four-year-old because, let’s face it, the new puppy gets most of the limelight.

  4. My latest book, Seeing Stars, has now been out for six days.

  5. There’s one day left on the email auto-responder that announces I’m still away on the first leg of my book tour, which means that I have

  6. All day to write, but

  7. Instead I am dithering.

Here’s why:

  1. I’m unnerved at having Seeing Stars out in the reading world, despite favorable early reviews and the fact that it’s my fourth book.

  2. I’m unnerved at working on my fifth book, despite the fact that I’m on manuscript page 125 and love the characters.

  3. I’m unnerved because I don’t want to just write. I want to write deliciously; I want a hot fudge sundae of a writing day, a day so rich and filling I can take the next two weeks off if I want to and still feel good about myself.

  4. I’m afraid I can’t muster the necessary degree of deliciousness.

  5. Lists—the writerly equivalent of junk food—are quick, fun, and make me feel like I’m accomplishing something even when I know I’m not.

  6. I’ve been losing at online Mahjong, a game which becomes scream-inducing if you play it too much, which I have.

Here’s what I was doing after I mustered the strength of character to X out of the damned Mahjong browser window, but before I began making lists:

  1. Read the news.

  2. Took the puppy out to go potty, because an hour and a half had elapsed since our walk, though God only knows how that happened.

  3. Read more of the news.

  4. Checked my Seeing Stars sales rank on, even though I don’t have a clue how the numbers relate to overall sales in bookstores. They seemed discouraging, so I

  5. Checked my Hannah’s Dream sales rank, also on Better, especially the Kindle edition.

  6. Looked out the window to see if it was still raining, which I already knew it was because I could hear it.

  7. Refreshed the browser windows with my sales ranks on No changes.

  8. Scanned the news for new news.

  9. Checked Hannah’s and Stars’ ratings on

So you can see what I’m up against. Here’s what I plan to do next:  

1.     Read all of Olive Kitteridge’s one-star reviews on, because it’s a book I wish I could have written, and the one-stars never fail to cheer me up.

2.     List all the reasons I can think of to stop writing lists.

3.     Send these lists to Bill Kenower at, with abject apologies, and

4.     Call it a day.

For more about Diane Hammond, please visit her at her website at  You can listen to her Author Magazine interview here.

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