Hectic Schedules and Car Rides . . . by Cari Lynn Webb

When the New Year started I was convinced somehow that my schedule would calm down. It seems, according to my husband and family that I say this quite often, as in season after season, year after year. Things should’ve calmed down when the kids went to middle school. Or when Christmas was over. Or when we sold our business. Or when . . . well, you get the idea. But my schedule hasn’t lightened. My To-Do list fails to get shorter and even as I write this blog, my daughter is asleep next to me on day 3 of a 103.1 fever. (Yes, I’ve Googled all the possible causes because I’ve earned the Web-MD degree and tomorrow I’ll seek the advice of the real, qualified professionals.)

So it appears I’ll continue to tell myself that things will slow down while I sprint in several different directions and adapt on the way. (I imagine I’m not so very different from all the other authors with full time jobs, raising families and writing too.) I’ve learned to write on the fly, given up on the expectation of sitting in my office for several hours on end without interruption. As it turns out some of my most productive writing recently has been in my car during my daughters’ swim practices.

Our car has evolved into more than transportation from school to swim practice to home to the grocery store. It has become more of an all-around office on wheels. When my daughter turns down the radio and says: “Mom, can I ask you something?” I automatically grip the steering wheel a little tighter, straighten in the driver’s seat and go on high alert. The car has become the safe place where my daughters talk freely and openly. An anything goes, no subject is off limits place. Perhaps the car isn’t as traditional as sitting around the kitchen table, but their privacy is ensured. No one can interrupt or suddenly jump into the backseat without warning. And thanks to that crazy schedule, each daughter gets alone time with me in the car every day. Sometimes we sing and dance, sometimes we laugh and joke around and sometimes the radio gets turned down and the real conversations begin. I often wonder if it wasn’t for our crazy schedule, would I have missed those conversations? Would we have gathered around the dinner table, devoured our food and then scattered into our rooms in the house without really talking.  

And thanks to the time spent in my car, I’ve been able to eavesdrop on arguments and interactions between siblings, couples and friends. (I know it isn’t polite, but the writer in me can’t help it.) And when the weather is too cold to roll down the windows, I’ve watched those arguments and interactions through the window, detailing the varied body language and filling in my own story. If I park just right at the swimming pool, I can see into the K-9 training facility next door. (One day I hope to gather the nerve to get out of my car and talk to the policemen about the facility and the dogs that fascinate me.) I’ve worked out story issues at red lights, found inspiration at the intersection with the driver in the truck ahead of me giving a homeless man a cup of coffee and money. And just last week I explained a car search for drugs to my daughters as we passed three police cars surrounding a Camry with all four doors thrown wide, policemen climbing through the car and two young men handcuffed on the sidewalk.

Maybe I need to be more thankful for my busy schedule – the one that’s forced me into my car and out into the world. It’s out in the world I’ve found the inspiration to write.

And now once I hit publish on this blog post, I’m starting the car and heading back into the world. This time we’re headed to the doctor. Wonder what we’ll discover on the way?

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend and happy reading!


  1. Hey, Cari! Hope your daughter is okay. Your car office sounds great. My best brainstorming is done on the treadmill.

  2. Cari, I, too, hope your daughter doesn't have anything too worrisome. I read someone's blog once about suddenly raising their children in their car---not because they didn't have a home, but because the kids were involved in so many school activities and outside events. I was happy my kids were grown prior to carrying snacks and maybe even meals in the auto. But now that you point out the advantages for a writer I may have to get out of my house more often.

  3. Yes, Cari, I hope your daughter is okay. Very creative use of your car! Never thought of a car that way.

  4. I love the thought of you spending quality time with your daughters in the car, Cari.

    As for those K-9 officers, having spent considerable time with K-9 officers and their dogs while doing my research for my K-9 trilogy, I encourage you to say hello and let them know how much the important and often dangerous work they do is valued. If you'd like, I'll send you a copy of one of my K-9 trilogy books, and you can offer it to them as an ice breaker! :-)

    I hope all went well at the doctor's and it was just a routine check up.

  5. Cari, I used to plot while walking the dog - a large, placid Husky mix. She's gone to her reward and I now walk a Westy mix. It's horrid! She weighs 20 pounds and being a terrier, considers nothing too big to take on. Someday I'm going to show up in the ER with a Pitbull attached to my face because I tried to save little Claire. But there's a story there, wouldn't you say? So, no car, but the stories still find us. You have to tell us if your daughter is okay.

  6. Hi, Cari--I hope your daughter's feeling better. I loved car conversations with the kids, especially the one-on-one times. In retrospect, I wish I'd driven around the block a few times when more needed to be said.

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  8. I enjoy eating, reading, catching up on e-mails and people-watching within the comforts of my car. It's like my own little cocoon where I can take in the world around me. When my daughter was of school age and the weather was nice, I'd pick her up from school, we'd get something to eat, park the car under a beautiful tree and talk. She still remembers those times fondly.

    I hope your daughter begins feeling better soon.

  9. :( Hope your girl is doing better and that the Dr. appt went well. Car office...definitely efficient. Here's hoping things calm down for real soon. Hugs!


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