As it’s probably becoming apparent, I’m going through one of those times in life in which, though nothing particularly bad – knock on wood – is happening, one doesn’t quite know whether to scratch oneself or dig a deep hole in the ground and hide.
The last week has had two sick teen boys, workmen coming to fix the downstairs bathroom, two books that not only are due at the same time, but are insisting on coming out at the same time AND a con approaching – Penguicon in Romulus MI at which I am Guest of Honor this coming weekend – necessitating packing and all this.
This seems like a wonderful time to talk about two perennial issues of writers – at least of writers who also have to live (and make a living) in the real world.
This week I was asked by one of my fledgelings how one ever found time for writing. Well, he didn’t ask it, exactly, but that was the idea behind his probing. After all, he is in graduate school and he has no.time.at.all.
I run into this all the time with son number one and son number two, who are gifted artists and writers in their own right but who rarely "find the time" and are always "terribly busy." Of course, those two with the artlessness of teens can often be found playing computer games hours a day. I’m sure that my fan/fledgeling is a better steward of his time. Almost anyone is. But life has a way of taking up all your time. It’s why they call it life, after all, not that thing you do when you have time.
I’ve found over time that it’s all too easy to find writing squeezed out of your life by the most trivial of concerns. As the mother of two kids, owned by five cats plus two and having the normal duties of home maintenance and cleaning, I can always find something that needs to be urgently done. Right now. Instead of sitting at the keyboard.
It’s all too easy to give in to this, and I’d like to say I’m strong – most of the time. The truth is that I’m not, and I let real life TM interfere all too many times. There are days I get nothing done in writing. And when I’m managing to do the writing, or on deadline, the house goes to h*ll and I hate that.
There is no magic answer. The best I’ve found is that "you make time for writing and you stick to it."
The downside of this, when you have full time jobs, or other writing jobs, or children, or a family, is that you can fall prey to "tired writer syndrome."
In its milder manifestation, you’ll find yourself telling what should be shown or using a lot of passive voice.
In the worst cases, the story will read – quite without your knowing how – as if you were floating on a sheet of glass above characters and situations. The only cure for that is to go back in and BE there when you write it, no matter how tired, no matter how difficult it is.
No one said this job was easy. You sit at the keyboard, and you open a vein. Ink must continue flowing, even when it should be dry. And if this is what you want to do more than anything in the world, you manage it. Somehow.