Friday, November 23, 2007

The Curse of the White Rabbit

You've probably seen this little guy: spastic white rabbit with a pocketwatch, slightly crazed look in the eyes, incapable of shouting much but "No time to say hello, goodbye! I'm late, I'm late, I'm late!" Well, embarrassing as it is to admit, if I suddenly morphed into a Disney character, this would be me. On a good day. AFTER coffee. Since I always kind of wanted to be Cinderella, this is a bummer, but I'm just being honest.

This week and next here at the diner we're talking about writing bugaboos, those little things that torment us endlessly in our chosen profession. I have plenty of them, like the ones already covered this week. But my number one writing bugaboo boils down to one little word: time. I am in constant need of more of it, it escapes me when I desperately wish it wouldn't, and my body seems to require that I use a certain amount of it for sleep. I've tried to work around that last one, but it hasn't worked out very well.

I know I'm not alone. The thing about writing is that most of us, even if we're published, don't have the luxury of being able to write all day. We have kids, day jobs, husbands, pets, family...a million little things that can suck up the better part of a day (and the best part for writing, like when we're alert and reasonably coherent) before you know it. And if you're me, suddenly, it's nighttime again. And you're sitting in the rocker with your laptop, trying to push all thoughts of fun stuff like second grade homework and accidentally overdue field trip money out of your head. Ready to clear your thoughts and get back into the story, which you love, which you MUST WRITE. And zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Body has reached critical mass. Lights out. Another day vanished into the ether. Plus you have the added bonus of some interestingly nonsensical words typed on the screen in front of you from when you were starting to dream but could still type. Well, I do, anyway. At least it's less dangerous than sleepwalking.

People I know have asked me on numerous occasions how I juggle everything: the three kids, the newly-acquired deadlines, and managing to serve something besides Easy Mac seven nights a week. Usually I just say, "I don't know, I'm insane." Which is true to varying degrees, depending on the day. The actual answer? I wish it were different, but it would have to be "By the skin of my teeth." There are not enough hours in the day to accommodate all I need to do, and that reality is the bane of my existence, my public bugaboo number one. On any given day, I can count on the fact that for every page of writing I want/need to get done, some random thing will either occur or break in order to thwart me. And sadly, it's usually not stuff I can just ignore until tomorrow. My older son might need stitches from doing whatever it was I told him not to do that day (yes, it's happened). My daughter will be in a mood to fight about her homework. And the baby will be acting very...two years old. Add to that the amount of sleep I've sacrificed at the altar of my fickle muse (I'm a mommy. Nights are all I have), and it makes for a lot of stress. Still, I hate to wish the days away. No matter how may things are going on all at once, once a day passes, you can never get it back. And I have to write, because it's what I love to do, and because I'm lucky enough to have been given my shot to make a go of this as a career. So I smoosh the writing in somewhere, even if it fits a little funny, and even if I have to chug coffee until midnight to make my page quota for the day. But I'm not gonna lie...there are nights when it really hurts. There is a part of me that dreams of the day when the kids are all at school and I can hole up in my office to write all morning. The problem is, I'm not ready for my kids to get big enough for that pretty vision to come true yet. I'm living the Catch-22. And that, in and of itself, is a big ol' bugaboo.

So now that I've expounded on the pain of having to be a Night Writer (and I don't even get a talking computer named Kit!), why don't you tell me where you squeeze your writing into during the day or night. Is it tough? How do you manage your time? And if you could transcend white rabbit-dom, what would your ideal writing environment/schedule be? Grab a plate of leftovers and share...your thoughts, and the food:-)



  1. Great post! I can relate to the time crunch.

  2. Ahh Kendra, I sooo relate. Just substitute a retail-type job that doesn't allow you to write because all these *customers* that insist on bothering you!

    My house is a wreck. And I let it go usually because as any mom knows we really work 3 jobs and if we work outside the home we only get paid for one.

    I have good kids (older)but they just don't get the whole "Mom-is-having-a-breakdown-because-she-just-spent-9-hours-on-her-feet-working-and-comes-home-to-NOTHING-being-done" syndrome.

    When the mess becomes unbearable to the point where it interferes with my feng shui balance, I blow up and then they move.

    Then I try to remember that precise frustration so I can write it into a character.

    Some days I can find a bit a quiet when the must talks and that magic of writing kicks in.

    Some days I just want to scream.



  3. Night Writer! We all need a Kit, don't we? Well, you know from my post I *don't* manage to squeeze it in there as much as I'd like. I guess I'm sort of doing what you're doing and biding my time until the kids are all in school, trying to enjoy them as babies and not go crazy with the postponement of career goals. At the same time it sort of scares me I'm putting so much pressure on the "school days" to magically cure what might end up being the same bugaboo Francesca talks about tomorrow :)


  4. Oh, I am SO there. No, I don't have kids, but the clients! The home! All the people who are genuinely important to me!! As a writer, you really do have an additional full time job. And you steal time from your life to do it.