The Best Time

September 28, 2022

I never used to give much thought about when I should do things, send things and go places. Oh sure, I knew that driving down to the shore on the Friday afternoon of Fourth of July weekend might not be the wisest decision, but even then, the traffic was rarely too extreme. There was one Fabulous Fourth years ago, though, when I was stuck for several hours in a major jam on Highway One headed to Rehoboth Beach with my mother, plus those of my children who still needed diaper changes and frequent nursing (Steve got the older ones for his car, lucky dog). Note: my mom was by far the most difficult passenger of the group. Joanie was a non-driver, and wondered—aloud, with increasing volume, and every five minutes--why it was taking SO DARNED LONG to get there. Gee, Mom, I don’t know. What say I drive on the shoulder at 125 MPH? Better?

Mostly, I carried on with life, blissfully ignorant of the desired time windows within which I had the best chance of success. Recently, however, it seems there is a magic moment for just about every endeavor. Grocery shopping? Avoid lunchtime! Going on a trip? You’d do MUCH better booking your airline ticket on Wednesday morning (lowest prices, best selection)! And don’t EVER go to Europe in August! Or Vermont at peak foliage time in the fall! Or New Orleans for Mardi Gras! If you’re really into travel bargains, you’ll have an app on your phone which sends you regular updates about your desired itinerary. One morning I got the notification, “Hey Elise! Don’t book that Munich trip yet! Prices will be going down soon!” So I waited, checked again a few days later and got, “Uh oh! Prices did go down, but are now sky high again. You missed your deal!” I felt like a clueless stock market investor, and was reminded again of why I am not involved in the stock market.

As a freelance writer, I’m learning those rules too. Sometimes the reasoning is obvious; other times, I just have to have faith in the source of advice. Submitting a pitch to an editor and want it to actually be read? You’ll want to send that email Tuesday mid-morning (once they’ve had their coffee), unless Monday is a holiday, in which case you want to wait until Wednesday (of course). Got an essay about Christmas? Don’t send it as late as November! Or as early as September! The sweet spot is October 15th at 2:10 PM. By 2:11, the magazine has naturally moved on to Valentine’s Day stories.

One of these days I’m going to schedule a Disney World vacation for spring break, saunter into the supermarket with the lunchtime crowd, and just send my pieces out to editors willy-nilly. Will the end result be bitter disappointment? Undoubtedly, yes. But at least I will have asserted my independence from the terrible tyranny of timing!

And, really, what’s more important than that?


    I am an author (of five books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a retired director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: or email me at



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