Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Warning Whinge Post.

Time poor writer cries foul.

I want more 'me' time.

I used to be a stay at home mother of 6 who also volunteered for state and national arts organisations. I set up a national writing competition, a national workshop and I helped on a national award among many other things. During this time, I had around 30 kid's books published and a fantasy trilogy.

I used to think when all the kids get to school I'll have more time. Only by then the eldest ones started coming out the other end of the school system. They had part time jobs and studied part time I spent all my time running them around to things.

I used to think when some of the kids leave home (this has only happened in the last 6 months) I'll have more time. But I'm teaching part time (during marking weeks it is full) and we're renovating our house. And three of the 6 kids are still at home with the others dropping by, so I'm still running people around to things.

I've edited my three KRK books in the first few months of this year (that's three levels of edits on three books over 100K at the same time). And I've written a new book which I'm madly trying to do an edit on before the end of the month to send off to my ROR colleagues so they can give me feedback on it. (And I'll read their books in August and give them feedback before World Con in September).

I LOVE writing. But trying to get this book finished has been a really hard slog. The joy of writing hasn't been there, except on odd ocassions. One night I couldn't sleep, got up at three am and wrote until 6am when I had to start marshalling kids for work and school. Those three hours were heaven. No interruption.

I think it is the lack of mental space in my head to mull over character and plot and let things gell organically. I really miss that private space in my head.

Here I am, home from work, writing my blog post, trying to juggle work family and writing, and wondering if I can squeeze in an hour or two on the book. I just want to write.

Is anyone else tempted to run away and join a monastery to get some 'me' time for their writing?

18 comments:

Jonathan D. Beer said...

YES.

Although I really don't have anything to complain about, when compared with your hectic goings-on. I merely force writing-time in between the ol' 9-5 and the hours I am putting in at the gym, hoping to slim down my winter-fed frame in preparation for the summer sun. Everything else seems to be padding around those three activities.

What I would like, however, is to be able to extend those little "magic hour" periods, when the whole thing clicks together and the words just pour out as nice as you like. I had one last night, and the opening of a new book (whoops...) just leapt out, each sentence leaving that happy ringing noise in my brain that says "I'm perfect. You won't have to revise or revisit me until editting time." But then I was interrupted be a pre-planned social engagement and I had to go. I am praying that when I get home tonight I can sit down and pick it up again - the words are still fizzing, so you never know. I just wish there was a way of turning such moments on when I need :p

matapam said...

Probably all of us.

Yes, even the empty nesters, because Wednesday is the younger son's birthday and I really ought to get him something and there's a hurricane in the Gulf so a bit of shopping, and then policing the yard is definitely in order, because hurricanes don't understand if the present doesn't get mailed on time.

Amanda Green said...

In a word -- Absolutely. Of late, it seems like every time I settle down to write, something happens and it requires my immediate attention. If I had the money and didn't have certain responsibilities at home, I'd run away at least one weekend a month and for a week ever quarter. But that is the pipe dream, so I have to find a way to dig out a few minutes each day to write. Now, if only I could figure out a way to train the dog to vacuum and the cat to dust, things would be easier.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Jon, I LOVE those kind of days. When you are int eh 'zone' with your writing.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Matapam, that's what I've found. Just when you think you are going to have time to write, something comes along to get in the way.

Washing ... Must I?
Shopping ... You mean you want to eat?
Work ... Well, how important can that be, really?

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Amanda, I do run away to my ROR group.

But that isn't for writing. It is for the critiquing once the book is written.

I have a friend who goes and sits in a coffee shop to write because that way she has coffee on tap and no one can find her. (She turns off her mobile phone).

I have another friend who accepts 'Writers in Residence' at libraries and writers centres, because it gets her out of the house and into an official office. She still has to do things for the libraries and centres like run workshops, but the rest of the time she is a 'writer'.

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain. I only have one kid, but things are just starting to open up for me in the time department. She just graduated, and has now has a job that doesn't require me! Whoop! When she taught twirling (last five years), it was my second job. I dealt with the parents, was safety supervisor for the two fire baton teams that she coached, and did the admin on her two weekly baton twirling classes. Not to mention the shows and various other obligations that came along. I am so thrilled to announce that I have now regained about 15-20 hours weekly that are truly mine!

Having so much time suddenly available is an adjustment. I want to use it well. Writing will definitely take up a large portion of it. Family stuff comes in second. Then housekeeping. Notice how housekeeping is always bottom of the list no matter the list?

The questions I have are: Do I start the outline on a book? Yes, I've decided. Do I continue writing short stories for submission? Yes, I've decided. Do I spend more time getting know fellow writers so that I can truly learn from them? Yes, I've decided. But what to do first?

Linda

Anonymous said...

As I read my comments above, I feel the need to clarify. Family stuff is only second because that is additional time to put to family. It already gets the priority share.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Linda what a wonderful position to find yourself in.

And weren't those kids lucky to have your daughter as coach and you as her PA!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Linda, I know what you mean about family.

I have a list of things I must do.
Family tops it, then comes writing.

But house cleaning is last. My Grandmother would be horrified. She used to starch her pillow cases and sheets in the days when washing meant boiling the copy and stirring it with a wooden stick.

Boy, am I glad those days are over!

Chris McMahon said...

I think probably every writer who every lived wants to run away somewhere! I know I would love to leave at least one of the two jobs I have. If only the world would cooperate. Sometimes I think I must have done something bad in a past life, its like torture.

Synova said...

My kids are teenagers now and I'm finding it harder than it ever was to have any sort of set routine. It's not all their fault, but it contributes. It's a whole lot of driving them about and quite a bit not having my own routine to substitute for the one they almost used to have.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Chris, I guess you could say we are well rounded people since we have such full lives.

And to be honest, it's better for us as writers to have contact with people.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Synova,

When you have kids you keep thinking, things will ease up. But they don't, they just change and the pressure keeps up.

I get my own back. My kids never know when they will appear in one of my books!

Kate said...

I've often thought that a B&B style place in a nice quiet rural area (but with wireless Internet for research purposes) for writers would be popular. Cottages set up so that they feel isolated, big library in the main house, lots of gazebos and covered porches where you can go outside and park the laptop to write in pleasant surroundings.

Maybe I'll crack that lottery one day.

Dave Freer said...

And here is the bad news. It never gets better (even when the kids are out of home) The amount of stuff expands to fill the time...

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Kate, a writing friend of mine moved to a small town in the south island of New Zealand and set this up.

She's been there 6 months.

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Dave, don't say that. Wahhhhh