I’m starting to believe normal really is just a setting on a device of some sort, somewhere. Unless, perhaps, you live in a cave, somewhere miles or more from the nearest other human. And don’t have any relationships or concomitant responsibilities. I don’t think I’ve had two very similar weeks in the last couple of years.
For example, last week, Wee Dave’s schooling schedule required several extra hours from me, on top of the usual. Then there were several items desperately needed for Mrs. Dave’s professional development efforts (they used to be organized, and then we moved, and they became “organized” and are heading back toward the quoteless version), which resulted in garage-and-packed-boxes sorting and floor clearing. I’m also restructuring my physical training regimen in an effort to reverse some annoying conditions, and so I’ve spent some necessary time digging through our exercise literature and the depths of the interwebs, and some purely skull sweat time. And that’s in addition to the short time I’ve actually spent in PT efforts. Fitted in around my other responsibilities, of course.
So you’re busy, Dave. So what: we’re all busy. Yep. We are. I don’t think I know a single adult human who sits around doing absolutely nothing all day but enjoying the dubious charms of daytime television whilst eating bonbons. Good on us, all, we Sons of Martha. Whether by choice or by necessity, we all seem to pack the hours given us with all manner of more or less productive effort. Which is good. If there’s one thing I want the Wee Horde to learn as they grow toward independent adulthood, it’s a strong work ethic.
My point, howsoever, and to flip over the coin of Amanda’s post from this morning, and roll it along its edge, to push that metaphor too far, is sometimes our best of intentions amount to little. Since starting this writing gig, I’ve had (unfortunately) brief periods where I could write full-time. I got things accomplished, which was pretty cool. Those periods have punctuated the far more common and lengthy periods where the rest of life required enough of me that writing came in second. Or more accurately, and painfully, a distant last. That’s been a lot of this last year. I may have mentioned, but when we looked into it, Mrs. Dave spent more than two thirds of the year Elsewhere Doing Things. And solo parenting doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for non-parenting pursuits of any kind, let alone the creative kind.
Part of treating writing as a business – tangentially – is professionalism. You act like it’s a business, doing all the vital business-y things to keep the gig paying. Another part of professionalism is recognizing when things aren’t going swimmingly, and scaling back in response. When the other demands of life have made business impossible to continue (at least temporarily) and it’s time to take a step back and reorganize. The end of the school year is a time of transition, as students and teachers (hah. hah) find themselves with more time on their hands, and longer days to fill. It’s a common time for family vacations and the attendant travel. For summer camps and hours spent together in the out-of-doors.
For me, as we gear up for Mrs. Dave heading off, again, followed by meeting up for LibertyCon, and then the rest of the summer with only minor breaks from active parenting, I’m looking at not having a lot of uninterrupted writing time. Now, Pretend Story is ongoing (though I’m having some trouble leading up to an appropriately awesome climax and denouement), and I’m recording that in a detailed outline format for future fleshing-out. But that may be *all* I can manage this summer.
Until September, when the Wee Horde is unleashed upon the placid kingdom of Lear-Ning, and I again have stretches of time to myself. At which point, the reverse of what I said becomes true, and I’ll start putting word to paper, again, in a major way. At least, that’s my plan, now. The other part of the plan is the little bit of the writing work I’m able to do: planning. I can work up outlines for the Wuxia Westerns, and for the UF series. I can noodle on plots, and spend a few minutes jotting notes in preparation for chunks of backside-in-chair time. I can also remember what reading regularly is like (fun, as it turns out).
Be professional: recognize limits. We, all of us, have constraints upon our time and energy, and however much we may want to spend our resources on some things, life often demands otherwise. At which point, fighting head-on is a guaranteed stressor and leads to exhaustion. And the Dark Side. Do what you can, when you can, and don’t worry about the rest until it’s time. As always, I’m talking to myself, and hoping it helps you.