I confess I am struggling to find balance. Between children, hubby, chores, exercise (which, yes, I am making a new priority. Blech) and my part-time job, I rarely find time to write. And I say finding time, as if I could reach in my pocket and pull some extra time out, or find a few minutes at the back of my junk drawer. What is this nonsense about “finding” time? And why don’t I have the secret to writing more with the time I DO have? And what about book promotion/marketing, submitting new work, querying my finished manuscript, editing other work, critiquing work for friends, reading for book club, reading writing buddies’ books, and reading for my own pleasure? Yeah. No wonder I’m feeling out of whack.
I have accepted it. I SUCK AT TIME MANAGEMENT.
Or do I? I mean, really. Do I? Or am I just a normal, frazzled human being with too much to do and not nearly enough time?
I do have to use the mommy card here, because if you have small kids, you KNOW how little time you get to yourself. I get ten minutes here, ten minutes there, but it’s not like I can carve out hours at a time to do what I want most days. I’m sure full-time working people feel like that as well. I only work ten hours a week, but that on top of my responsibilities at home also means I’m left with little extra time. Between a new baby, and a precocious toddler, my day to day activities leave little space for creative writing. I’m lucky if I can write out a grocery list most days. I consider it a bonus if the dishwasher is ran at the end of the day, and a load of laundry is done, and everyone is alive and relatively happy. Anything extra is just a bonus these days.
At night, when the kids are in bed, and the house is quiet, I usually find myself just pooped. I have little left to give at that point, creatively or otherwise. It’s not the best time for me to be sending queries, because I’m tired, and likely to mess something up. I have no fresh ideas. I’m feeling lazy, and have to force myself to work-out. And then clean the kitchen. You know what I want to do then? I want to lie on the couch and veg. I want to #netflixandchill with my husband. I want to browse Pinterest, or go on Facebook, not as an author. But as a person. As me, the person.
I want to play Goddamn Covet Fashion, and dress up dolls in a totally pointless and mind-sucking game. AND I DON’T CARE.
Well, I mean, actually I guess I do. Because that night when I go to sleep, I think about all the possibilities open for the next day. I think about everything I can get done. I’m motivated. I have energy. I am looking forward to being productive the next day! I WILL WRITE! I will make it happen.
And sometimes, it happens. Like, I leave my laptop out on the kitchen counter and type up a scene between making my toddler’s fourth snack of the day, and dinner. I make a couple phone calls during nap time. I send a query from my smart phone. I get on Twitter and interact with funny, smart writers. I get shit done.
And other times, it’s a mountain of laundry four feet tall, and cleaning up dog vomit. Because, life.
And on those days, between the chaos, there is of course, beautiful, tender moments filled with children, and laughter, and fun. On any of those days when I get zero to little writing or writing-related work done, I tell myself that’s okay. One day all three of my kids will be in school. And I will be a full-time writer. I will have a little office, and a desk to write on, instead of a sticky kitchen counter. I will get all these wonderful ideas written down, and not just written, but polished, submitted, and published.
I tell myself this, because not only is it true that my hectic (wonderful) life is temporarily too full to get everything done I need to do, while also sleeping enough to stay sane, but I need that reminder. I need to know it does get easier to balance. Not always, because I know things come up. But I am at one of the busiest moments of my life here. It’s okay that I’m not submitting to literary journals and magazines every day. Or every week. Or every two or three weeks. It’s okay that I am probably not going to finish my book club read this month, because I’m too busy reading and enjoying my friend’s novel. It’s okay that I did almost no book promotion for Ditch Flowers this month. It’s okay, because it has to be.
When people say they “make time” I am always a little bewildered by that. Could I theoretically wake at 4am everyday (like when I’m not already up with the baby!) and write? Um, I guess so. But no. NO. NOPE. Sleep deprivation does not a novel make. At least not for me.
It will get done, when it gets done. I love it, and I have to write. But if it’s slow-going, that’s alright at this point. It has to be. I am telling myself this over and over again. It’s okay, because it has to be.
Am I alone here, or can you relate? Drop me a comment below if you have found the magical formula for maintaining an active writing career while rearing a few humans, or working a crazy job. And if you are retired, writing full-time, but still don’t have time to do all these things, then for the love of God, GO AWAY AND DON’T BURST MY BUBBLE. ::sticks fingers in ears and sings::