In David James Duncan’s The River Why, Gus, the main character, decides at a young age that in an ideal world, he would fish 14-1/2 hours per day. He’s still in high school when he formulates the following plan:

The Ideal 24-Hour Schedule

1. sleep: 6 hours
2. food consumption: 30 min. (between casts or while plunking, if possible)
3. school: 0 hours!
4. bath, stool, etc.: 15 min. (unavoidable)
5. housework and miscellaneous chores: 30 min. (yards unnecessary; dust not unhealthy; utilitarian neatness easily accomplished)
6. nonangling conversation: 0 hrs.
7. transportation: 45 min. (live on good fishing river)
8. gear maintenance/fly-tying/rod-building/log-keeping, etc.: 1 hr. 30 min.
9. fishing time: 14-1/2 hrs. per day!

Ways to Actualize Ideal Schedule
1. finish school; no college!
2. move alone to year-round stream (preferably coastal)
3. avoid friendships, anglers not excepted (wastes time with gabbing)
4. experiment with caffeine, nicotine, to eliminate excess sleep
5. do all driving, shopping, gear preparation, research, etc. after dark, saving daylight for fishing only

Result (allowing for unforseeable interruptions): 4,000 actual fishing hrs. per year!!!

I was sick over the weekend. I woke up Saturday with a sore throat, soldiered through the morning, and then threw in the towel, foregoing a blogger meet-up and sundry other tasks. Sunday was more of the same. (I did, however, manage to pull myself together for a dinner with Sally Parrot Ashbrook, a GRS-reader from Atlanta. Kris and I met Sally and Dan at Higgins for a wonderful meal. It can be awkward chatting with virtual strangers, but not so with Dan and Sally.) I woke on Monday still feeling cruddy, so I called in sick to work.

When I woke a second time, at around ten, I felt fine. I got out of bed, sat down at my desk, and I wrote for four hours.

I wrote for four hours, and I wasn’t interrupted once. The phone didn’t ring. Nick didn’t come into the office. Kris didn’t call me to clean my dishes out of the sink. I simply wrote. I finished four entries for Get Rich Slowly, and one entry for foldedspace. (You’ll see it tomorrow.) It felt awesome.

Then I spent an hour running errands, followed by two hours of lounging on the porch with my pipe and some books. The took turns sitting with me. I played a little Wii.

When Kris came home, we made dinner and ate outside at the picnic table. We took a garden tour together, examining the budding grapes and the lanky peas. Later, as Kris watched Antiques Roadshow, I wrote three entries for Animal Intelligence.

At nine, we climbed into bed and watched an episode of Battlestar Galactica.

That, my friends, is close to my ideal schedule. All that’s missing is the first three hours of the day (lost here due to my illness), three hours in which I could exercise and spend time with friends.

It was exhilerating to realize that I could actually work from home, could sit in my office and write, and produce good work. It was the last step in realizing that yes, this is my destiny.

3 Replies to “The Ideal Schedule”

  1. J.D. says:

    Homonyms are my nemesis.

    And look! Last year I was sick, too. Spooky.

  2. Josh says:

    David James Duncan was my high school commencement speaker. Great guy, fantastic author.

    Here are two Q&A sessions with him from Grist:
    With the magazine
    With the readers

  3. J.D., we had a marvelous time with y’all, too–it was great how natural it felt hanging out with you. Just got home tonight, so I’m just checking email and such now.

    You have inspired me to focus more on my writing, too. 🙂

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