I (all of us on here, actually), recently went to a writer’s workshop with Mette Ivie Harrison. In some ways it was inspiring (hey, my writing isn’t all that bad); in some ways it was discouraging (I might as well try to make it in Hollywood as an actress- it’s easier than getting published!)
One of the things that discouraged me the most is how much time Mette dedicates to reading and writing. She reads, if I remember correctly, at least 5 novels a week. She sets aside hours a day to write.
I can’t do that.
I’m a single mom. I’m an English professor, so much of my time at home is spent grading (that IS writing, but not really the kind I want to do). I have fibromyalgia, which truthfully, slows me down more than I’d like to admit. I do volunteer work at my church and at my daughter’s schools (yes, that’s plural on purpose), too, when I can. I need clean underwear. And I need more sleep than the average person. Grrrr.
It kills me that I was a full-time mom for 10 years and didn’t write much during that time, but I didn’t have the confidence to write yet (surviving grad school gives one a new appreciation for what one can actually accomplish). So, here I am, finally ready to write and barely having time to do anything “extra”. I’m not like Mette Ivie Harrison- I can’t do it all. I’m not willing to give up some of my downtime with my daughter, because we don’t have a lot of it, and she’s in high school, so I only have a few years left with her as a kid.
I’ve had to accept that, for me, it will be a slower process than I’d like it to be. One thing that is helping, though, is having a writing group to report to. During a semester, no matter how organized I am, I prioritize by emergency. What’s the next emergency? If I know writing group day is coming up, I make time for that “emergency” and get my writing done for that meeting. That means that over time, I will get this book written, even if it’s not in the most ideal way (which is: two months with no other responsibilities but writing at my hypothetical beach house and perfect inspiration flowing every waking hour).
I decided years ago that endurance is much more important than talent even is. Look at how many cruddy actors are out there. They just kept at it and eventually they get a job on a stupid sit-com. I personally know a lot of brilliant actors (I’ve done a lot of theater) who either aren’t willing to live that life (me included) or give up with the first rejection. It isn’t about talent first, unfortunately. There are a lot of cruddy books out there as well, but I bet those authors just kept submitting and writing despite the pile of rejection letters. I just have to keep at it. Time will pass whether I do it or not, so I opt to do it.
So, on to the next emergency.
2 thoughts on “When the Bleep Can I Fit It In?”
I agree so much with the endurance thing. Reminds me of Dori from Finding Nemo – just keep swimming. Just keep writing. We will all get there eventually and I don't think there is a prize for first.
I love your last line here–and what, after all, do we have to lose? I've found that writing more actually makes me a more sympathetic to my students. 🙂
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