Hey ho! I had a fantastabulous weekend at my editing workshop, and will tell you all about it in tomorrow's post. I learned a lot, and more importantly, enjoyed every second of it.
Today I'm talking about being a mother and a writer. There have been many blog posts written about mothering and writing and the balance it requires, especially when the kids are babies. And by babies I mean until 18. It's hard. We don't always have the time, energy, or focus that we need to produce usable material for a novel or short story, because we give the best of ourselves to our children (or we should, anyway). Note: I'm sure you dads out there do the same.
I don't know how many of you moms out there who write novels also work full-time, as I do. But I get asked a lot, "Where do you find the time?" And in fact, a week or so ago Tawna Fenske asked "How do you do it?" So I shall tell you.
I write when the baby sleeps.
This means that after the whippersnapper goes to bed, around 8 pm, I have an hour and a half to pound out/revise whatever I can. This also often means that the kitchen isn't as sparkling clean as I would like it, and sometimes I don't speak to my husband until bedtime. (Balance is key there; my own scientific observations have revealed that that my husband will only tolerate so many nights in a row of no sounds except those of my fingers on my laptop keyboard.)
I also write when he naps. I admit I am starting to despair at the idea of losing those two precious hours in the afternoons on weekends, because the whippersnapper is beginning to show signs of outgrowing his nap. So I have instituted "quiet time" whereby he plays quietly in his room and "rests," while I type away. This seems to work well for right now. I know it won't work forever.
I think and plot when I am on my own.
Mostly, this is to and from work in the car. It's also in the shower. There's really no other time.
I write fast.
I have to. And yes, I wrote this post when I should have been overhauling my protagonist's mother. And I will.
I schedule things ahead of time.
This means blog posts (I always schedule posts a day or two ahead of time, sometimes a week or two ahead of time), this means being organized about what revisions I'll make in a night, and sometimes, it means not writing at all. This is particularly true during pregnancy. When that late first trimester exhaustion hits and you have to go to bed every night at 7:30, writing gets put on hold. And if it's your second pregnancy and your existing whippersnapper's bedtime is 8 pm, well...you'll be writing another time.
If you have more than one child, you really have to scramble. That might include not writing at the pace you were used to for a while -- maybe even months or years. That is the sacrifice we make for having babies.
Some people get up before the kids to do to write. I will not get up at 5:30 willingly, so that's never going to happen. Balancing out my evening time is key.
I do things in stages.
After the whippersnapper was born, we could no longer watch a movie in one sitting. There just wasn't that kind of time. And now that the whippersnapper is a little older, he wants to watch full length movies, but I don't like for him to sit for two or more hours in front of the telly at one time. So we break things up. We took two weeks to watch Wall-e. Had to. Did we mind? Not really. There isn't really an alternative and we don't have that kind of concentrated time. This post is a good example. I've written this in a few stages: I started it one night, left it for later finishing another night, and now I've given it a final edit it the night before it's scheduled to post. (For those of you thinking, "Interesting. Then why are your posts so poorly edited and written?" I can only say "Pbbbbbtttthhh!")
So likewise, I write and edit in phases.
I don't dwell on my pre-parenthood days.
I don't sit there and think "Holy Krakow, it was soooooo good when there were no kids to think about and I could sit here and write and write and write." Because thinking along those lines will only bring bitterness along the lines of "If only I were independently wealthy." Not going to happen. Right now anyway.
Bottom line: I'm passionate and committed to writing. So I do it. That means missing Glee and 30 Rock and all the other shows I know nothing about (truly), and it means making time to write at the expense of a cleaner house or other leisure activities. And of course, it means being very organized about time and finding that thin line of balance.
It's really all about priorities.