This summer has sucked for writing. Absolutely sucked.
I have gotten nothing done. I wanted to have a draft of my book finished by the end of this month, but I am miles away from that now.
I’m trying to write today, but am finding it impossible. Why?
The kids. The house. The garden.
I have discovered that I need to be alone and away from people in order to write fiction. Writing fiction requires that I disconnect from the world around me and complete immerse myself into the world that I have created. This is impossible with the kids around.
They aren’t even necessarily coming to me directly with questions or requests. They are in their own worlds – and they are incredibly noisy about it. I was attempting to write a romance/romantic tension scene the other day and the 9 year old started doing armpit farts in the other room. Do you know how hard it is to write about gentle caresses and toe-curling kisses with armpit farts going off in the other room?
Plus they have their own schedules for which I need to play taxi. Not to mention the dreaded summer homework where I am required to provide interpretation and assistance. Weekly I am ferrying them to the library to pick up books for their reading lists.
Then there is the garden. A huuuuuge work in progress of two enclosed gardens where we can plant vegetables and have a perennial fruit bed without accidentally establishing a salad bar for the local deer. And that isn’t even mentioning the flower beds that ring the house and produce mind-blowing amounts of weeds.
And the house. With 2 children and 2 cats the house always needs to be cleaned. And the populace fed. Which requires trips to the grocery store. And before you say “you can always order your groceries” I know. I pioneered that in Switzerland. I have run into stumbling blocks with bugs in the computer system that I need to devote some unknown quantity of time into conquering.
Not that I really mind any of that. I love going to the library. I love reading. I love cooking. I love my children. I tolerate weeding.
But any notion that I had of a summer free from work obligations to “just write” was a fantasy, at best.
I really did have the best of intentions. I brought notebooks with me on vacation. I set up daily word count charts. I cleared my calendar and put my two other part-time jobs on hold. It turns out that parenting duties ballooned up to fill the void.
While the balloon was filling I was stuck. I was spinning my wheels, not accomplishing anything. The garden is full of weeds. The house is, well, it’s clean, but I have boxes of stuff to go to charity and no pictures on my walls yet. The only thing that was getting done was the boys’ stuff and that’s because all the kid-stuff is like a raging river sucking you downstream with it. It was easier to just go with the flow.
It is a hard and stinging lesson, but if I want to finish this book I’m going to have to be (a) really disciplined about my schedule, (b) very firm about my needs, and (c) learn to say “no” and “I need help.”
“Pfft. That is basic! Everyone knows that!” you say.
That is true. Everyone does know that. On a hypothetical or theoretical level. But it’s not until you have sat there looking down at a word count chart that is virtually empty that you really learn the lesson. Failure is the best teacher, you know.
Tonight I am going out to write. I am taking myself to a little cafe for dinner, then I’m going to pull out my laptop and write until my fingers cramp. Or as my friend Diana says it “WRITE ALL THE WORDS!!!!”
Until then, I am going to be with my children, my house, and my garden.
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