For the past couple of months, I’ve been writing around the edges of everything else.
I get up early and write—after I take care of our elderly cat’s needs and until I have to wake the kids.
I write on breaks at work—after I run errands or answer e-mails.
I write in the evenings—after the kids go to
bed sleep and until bedtime/husband-attention-time.
On the alternate weekends I don’t work at the library, there are swim lessons or church or other family stuff, so I write when everyone else is occupied with their own interests.
On my every-other Friday off, I run errands in the morning, and write after lunch until the kids get home—or fall asleep where I stand, because jeez.
This hasn’t been a bad way to write—there are no bad ways to write, if writing is being done—and for a long time, it’s been the only way I could have a family and still write.
Because I need both.
But it recently dawned on me that in my efforts to make sure my writing time doesn’t inconvenience the family, I’ve given them the impression that it isn’t important to me, either.
Which meant that it could be interrupted, dismissed, and ignored.
It was becoming harder to submerge myself into a scene, when I knew that I’d be yanked out again at any given moment. And it was easier to give in, most of the time, because I don’t really have any deadlines I don’t set myself, anyway, and the kids are still young and this will only take a few minutes and it’s easier to stop than explain (again) why I need to get these words down right now . . .
But then I read Averil Dean’s post, “work |wərk|“, which asks the question, “How do people take it when you refer to your writing as work?”
This question struck me right between the eyes.
Because I haven’t. Not for a while.
When had I stopped treating the act of writing as my internship/second job/thing-I-would-rather- be-doing-than-anything and started treating it like a poor excuse for not doing what other people expect me to do?
Writeus Interruptus is a chronic condition for most writers, but when had I stopped treatment?
I mean, did I still want to do this writing thing? Did I still want my stories to be read? Did I still want to take the time and effort necessary to convince someone to pay me to do this, someday?
In order to be taken seriously as a writer, in order to have my family treat my writing as an important activity, I needed to show, not tell.
So I decided to make a deal with my husband.
In Summer, he likes to play sandlot baseball on the weekends—he rarely misses. The league offers games Saturday and Sunday, and he’s usually gone for three hours.
On the Saturdays I work, he plays Sunday. On my Saturdays off, I’ve been watching the kids, so he can play in the afternoons.
I braced myself—for what, I don’t know, exactly, but brace I did—and told him that I needed more time to write. And I asked him to play baseball on Sundays all season, so I could take three hours on my Saturdays off to go to the library, while he took care of the kids.
If he absolutely had to play on Saturday, I’d be glad to move my three hours to earlier or later in the day, or take them on Sunday instead—if the library wasn’t open, I could hide in Panera or Starbucks or somewhere.
I was surprised, which tells you more about my mindset than his.
I was also elated. I’d figured out what I needed and made it happen. Sure, it’s a very small step, but it’s in the direction I want to go.
So, after lunch this past Saturday, I ran away from home with my laptop and headphones and notebook. Jane wanted to go with me, but before I could figure out how to tell her that I wanted to spend some time in her favorite place in the world by myself, my husband explained that I needed some time to work on my book without any interruptions.
“Oh,” she said. “Okay. Have fun, Mom!”
The first hour was hard—I kept expecting to be interrupted and ended up interrupting myself. But it smoothed out eventually, and I fell into the Zone for an hour or so until the alarm buzzed on my phone.
It was a very good write.
When I arrived home, my MIL told me that everyone else was biking the river trail.
So I stretched out on the bed and closed my eyes and thought about plot points and poisonous plants—until Sunny landed on my stomach.
Anyone else notice that the pain of Naptus Interruptus is directly proportional to the size of one’s kids?