>When life is too much with us


Some years ago I had an email from someone who had just met me at a con. I don’t remember what they wanted to know, but it was something very minor and I answered immediately.
Some minutes later I got back an effusive answer thanking me for taking the time out of my busy writing life to answer this email. I don’t remember the exact words, either, but it was obvious that this fan pictured me siting there, typing away furiously while my secretary… I don’t know… also typed furiously. Or perhaps booked a cruise for me. Or something. (Never having had a secretary, I’m at a loss to imagine anything for him – this is MY fantasy! – to do other than wear tight pants and bring me tea.)
The truth was that the first message had arrived after I’d dropped the kids off at school and before I did the breakfast dishes and the cat boxes. In addition to writing – which I do every day whether it needs it or not. I was going to say except Christmas, but barring illness I write on Christmas too – my schedule that day included giving the kitchen floor a really good scrubbing and finding a winter coat for my younger son who had outgrown his.
It was an odd glimpse into how the writing life differs seen from outside and from inside. (Though I must confess to some trouble imagining Terry Pratchett doing Litter Box Duty. Just as I’m sure he spent years doing it, even if he might have household help now.)
Recently I was talking to a fan who told me that this was actually good, that it enriched the writer to have a real life. It is probably true. I know it has changed me – made me grow in some way – to have the experience of raising the boys, dirty diapers and all. (Not to imply people who don’t raise children aren’t adults, but it is one of those life-altering experiences. There are others, like marrying, or taking on a challenging career or even a serious illness, or a move across country.)
However, I must confess there are days when I wake up and I wish I had one of those lives where I don’t have anything to do but write. And perhaps I have a secretary to bring me tea or coffee.
But life being what it is, and life being too much with us, I’m trying to separate my writing time from my non-writing time. Which is very hard when I work at home – a place where I also have a myriad other duties, like laundry, breakfast dishes, and severely underpetted cats. (Just ask them.)
Of course, sometimes finding yourself in the kitchen rotating the cat means that you are scared of what you’re writing. Other times it means that the cat needed rotating. (I don’t know. One of ours needs SOMETHING. He’s got into pixie sticks. He has a secret stash of them somewhere – no, seriously. Perhaps he needs valium. Or kittie detox.)
It’s all too easy to get your writing time squeezed out by “life happens” even when you’re really, really, really trying to write. Your characters can scream loudly, but they scream only in your head. Your kids, on the other hand, or even your friends going through a crisis, or your pet being ill… all of those things impose upon your in a much more immediate way.
More creative authors than I have created concrete block buildings where they lock themselves to write. It’s not going to work for me. Kids and cats will get into untold mischief if I’m not around… (Havelock likely will progress from pixie sticks to chocolate.)
So – for this week – the experiment is to try to separate writing and non writing. I’m going to try to do my news-reading and other such computer-work at another machine.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Wish me luck.

One comment

  1. >I have a friend who applied to do a Writer in Residence and she found it very helpful. It meant she was out of the home going to ‘work’, where there was no phone to interrupt her. She turned off her mobile and could work uninterrupted for the hours that her kids were in school.Tempting …

Comments are closed.