Friday, June 4, 2010

The Great Time Gobbler

About six months ago, Hank Phillippi Ryan spoke at our local writers’ group meeting. I was thrilled to be able to converse with a well known published author. Sure, I met people at book signings before. Nora Roberts and Garrison Keilor to name a few, they said a few polite words as I shoved a copy of their latest book at them to sign—that was the extent of our conversation. Hank stopped by our Indiana RWA Chapter meeting one Saturday. Even with her books gaining widespread popularity, she wasn’t taking it easy by a long stretch.

“You give up a great deal to write,” she told the avid audience. She continued to tell of all the things she gave up to find time to write. First, there was social life, leisure time, sleep, even nookie—she told the group only to be met by nervous laughter. I thought to myself, well, you’re a big time investigative reporter and a writer—of course, you have no time. I did take in consideration that she never mentioned children.

Those of us who have currently or have raised children realize they devour almost all our waking time. Most of the prolific writers I meet have adult children. When their children left home or at least learned to drive, they managed to carve out more time to write. I decided this year was the year I quit playing around and write. Writing had to be a priority for me. It is hard to call yourself a writer when you don’t write. My first foray into finding time to write was after work. Big mistake, at least it was for me.

After getting up at five, working ten hours, I wasn’t exactly creative or energetic. Sometimes I found myself lured away from the keyboard by CASH CAB on Discovery. It was so much easier watching other people struggle to answer questions as I zoned out. Too tired after work, I decided to try mornings which worked pretty well. I am the only one who gets up early in my household. I could get an hour in on the weekdays before work and on the weekends I could sometimes get in as much as five hours since everyone tends to sleep late.

I grab my cup of tea and my laptop and crawl back in bed since I keep my house at a ridiculous 61 degrees to save money. In the summer, I will sit in the backyard with the premise being if the family can’t find me I can continue to write. They usually find me. Sometimes, though, I am my own distraction. I get busy answering my email and end up reading one of those stories that pop up on a side bar, then another and I’ve wasted 60 minutes. I could refer to this as research and sometimes it is. While morning writing is a good plan, I don’t always adhere to it either.

I find myself in the wee hours of the morning working on merchandise for my online store. The demand for out of print books seems to have picked up with my need to write, but since I like the money I have to handle the orders first. My day job has consumed almost all my Saturdays recently. Then there is my social life which is somewhat limited to a couple friends and my sweetie. Sometimes, I just tell them that I have to write and I can’t go on that weekend jaunt. Other times, I justify my social life by saying I can go and write about it later---which I usually don’t do. A trip to the outlet mall to search for new sandals will somehow fit into my Civil War historical, yeah right.

Trying to establish myself as a writer takes more than just writing, who would have thunk it? Not me, I was absolutely clueless at the start. I find myself attending conferences, reading craft books and designing a web site--that’s the tip of the iceberg. As a writing buddy, I critique work, attend book signings and vote online for fellow author’s books. It is all part of being a writer. Quite frankly, I am often overwhelmed.

I remember when I had my first child and I came home from the hospital wanting to sleep for the next fourteen hours, but my son had different plans. I thought I would never be that tired again, but then I had my middle son. I think you can see where this is going. Each time, I thought I was as fatigued as humanly possible, but each time the ante went up a little bit more. Each time I met the demands. I think writing can be like that. Just when you think you have one thing licked something else pops up. That’s why the writing community is so important.

When my agent wouldn’t call me back, I found out through the writer community that she closed shop. She could have told me, but she didn’t. When I wanted my RWA PRO status, the group walked me through the procedure. When I signed with a less than savory publisher, my fellow writers wondered why I didn’t ask them first. Slow learner, I guess, but I will next time. Writing is all consuming. It does gobble time, but it provides so much satisfaction. It creates a special culture that is unique to writers. Only writers would be amused about an article that linked the creative mind and schizophrenia. The writing community has also made me more accountable in regards to the time I actually spend writing. When asked what I’m currently working on by a fellow writer, it is hard to confess that I am doing deep research by watching NCIS reruns. One of my characters, just happens to look like Mark Harmon. Without the writing community much more of my time would be spent stumbling down dead ends. So Hank told the truth when she said you give up a lot to write. You do, but you get more back. It also makes me wonder if writing is the real time gobbler? Or is it everything else stealing from our writing time? I think it is the latter. By the way, you also do not have to give up nookie no matter what gobbles your time.


Joanne said...

We give up a lot to write. Eight hours of sleep was the first to go. Although my kids are older now and leading their own adult lives, they still are my top priority. And, of course, my dh!

morgan wyatt said...

Hi Joanne,
Sleep is overrated--or at least that's what I tell myself. What does eight hours of sleep feel like? I've even heard some people sleep 10-11 hours. Just imagine all the writing they could have done. :)


Helen Scott Taylor said...

I have huge admiration for anyone who can write books while they have small children. I didn't start writing until my kids were grown, so I haven't had that problem. But it is very easy to be distracted. I'm lucky in that I run my own business, which gives me a lot of control over my time. I'm firmly of the belief that one needs to be productive to be successful, so I have upped the ante recently and I'm aiming for three books a year instead of one. It is hard work, but I hope it will pay off.

Jill James said...

Morgan, great post. I'm not giving up nookie for anything. Besides, how would I write those love scenes without research? LOL

Mona Risk said...

Morgan what a great post. I gave up so much to make time for my writing. I don't watch TV, read less and less, forget to return phone calls. DH took over the laundry, dishwashing, and often orders meals or bakes a pizza to eat. I write whenever I have time or I create time. My children are grown up but I often babysit their children or take care of my mother. I wish I could type fast but I have learned to accept my limitations and be happy if I can write every day.

morgan wyatt said...

Hi Helen.
Three books instead of one a year, I'm impressed. Keep up the good work. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.


morgan wyatt said...

Hi Jill,
I actually heard today on NPR that many non-writing women give up nookie once they have children. I'm betting they buy romances just to read about it. Keep writing those hot love scenes. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

morgan wyatt said...

I am betting DH stands for dear husband. He does sound dear. I usually yell that there is food in the freezer. No one has starved yet.

Thanks for dropping by.


Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I used to have a quiet house all to myself after the kids moved out, but then my hubby retired. It is amazing how much attention they need and he became jealous of my computer time. BUT, when Santa brought me laptop and I can write downstairs he changed. He goes to bed early and the computer was a few feet from the bedroom door. I am amazed at how proud he's now become of my writing and even asks why I am not writing at times. I think he saw how excited I got when I started doing well with contests and getting compliments on my work. It is a lot easier without the stress and I spend lots of hours in front of the monitor. My friends think I am a hermit, but I have never been one to coffeeklutch or go shopping. It can be more fun to spend time with my characters sometimes...

morgan wyatt said...

I am glad your husband understands why writing is so important to you.
Life is certainly easier when those we love our sympathetic to our writing efforts. I used to have a jealousy issue with my dog. He is a good size dog, so he would either rest his head on the desktop or laptop keyboard. I started using my laptop on the "forbidden" couch. He has to content himself to lay by my feet.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing.

Anonymous said...

You do, but you get more back. It also makes me wonder if writing is the real time gobbler? Or is it everything else stealing from our writing time? I think it is the latter. By the way, you also do not have to give up nookie no matter what gobbles your time.

Yes, you do. It became apparent one day when I walked pass the dinning room table and saw, written in the dust, "Please, dust me. Love, husband." LOL


JACLYN said...

You do, but you get more back. It also makes me wonder if writing is the real time gobbler? Or is it everything else stealing from our writing time? I think it is the latter. By the way, you also do not have to give up nookie no matter what gobbles your time.

It didn't dawn on me how much time I spent at the computer until I walked by the dinningroom table and saw this, written in the dust.
"Please dust me, love husband,"


morgan wyatt said...

A husband with a sense of humor is a true treasure. You are blessed. Thanks for dropping by.