Me being honest (in a long story short kind of way) about writing write now, momming, wifeing, living, happiness/depression and TIME.
This past week I started to freak out a little.
Info-dumpy back story:
As a kid, things felt foggy and I felt like I was just sort of along for the ride. (nice way to say, “Meh. It wasn’t the best of times).
As a teen, I was just pissed and wanted out of the crappy life I was living. (nice way for saying, Meh. I hated everyone, especially me).
And then I was in college and on my own and it was empowering and scary and miserable and awesome but still. (nice way for saying I was lucky to have amazing friends and experiences but Meh. I was depressed and thought I was damaged goods and the depression at times was incredibly debilitating). Aside from moving to NYC to become a SNL regular and sitcom star (spoiler alert: that didn’t happen) I had a bigger (kind of secret) ambition to be…happy. I felt like I owed it to myself for having such a crappy childhood. I yearned to know what actual happiness was, but had a weird suspicion that it might be a pipe dream.
So, then life happened and long story short, one day I was thirty and it felt like things were going my way and maybe just maybe I’d be happy. And one day I was. And it was nuts. I felt content and I had absolutely NO memory of ever feeling that in my life. It was like magic. I’m sure I cried and probably figured out a way to write a depressing poem about it.
So I’m obviously cutting out a lot of junk and drama and deep depression and some mania and maybe a stint or two in the hospital and a life-changing therapist in NYC and motherhood and self help books and supportive friends and my sisters and journaling but you get the point, right?
This year I turned 38. Yes, 38. (please shower me with your sincere version of “OMG you look so much younger.”) (sad side story: I ALWAYS used to get carded for alcohol but for the first time, on my 36th bday, I didn’t get carded. It was weird, and felt so abrupt. And I haven’t been carded since. WTF!) Okay, so anyway, apparently I’m aging. And if you ever need a hug, just card me.
In October 2013, I signed with my agent for my first completed manuscript, a YA contemporary novel that I wrote because the other one I had been working on since 2008 was getting too personal and too hard. So, aside from the manuscript that got me signed, I now have another completed ms in revisions, and a few other things that are started (including that personal depresso memoir based novel) and a crap ton of ideas. And all of a sudden, I feel like there’s not enough time. Finally, I am out of this phase of “surviving” and have moved into living mode or finally doing something for me mode. And I can’t even begin to tell you the amount of gratitude, pride, passion, everything good I feel about this. I can’t. No, I really can’t. I will cry. But yet, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of fear and panic I’m starting to feel about this. No, I can’t. I will cry.
I’m worried that there’s not enough time in the day. I’m playing with my three year old and in my head I’m wondering if I will have time for a nap and writing and CPing during her nap time. My son comes home and I am thinking, OK what am I going to feed these kids and if my husband is working, I’m thinking, YAY. One less mouth to stress about feeding. (side note: not that I cook much. But whoever orders the pizza, it’s still a job, right?) And then I’m getting the kids to bed and finally settling down into bed with my laptop. And I’m so stressed and I want to write but I can’t freaking focus. Did I spend enough time with the kids today? Was it quality enough or was I too stressed and frustrated and did they know that? And now that I have time to write and get work done, what do I focus on? CPing? Revisions? Open up that other story that is calling me? Start a new file for the story that’s on the tip of my tongue? Check Twitter to see what other writers are up to? Read a post on the publishing industry, writing tips, how not to freak out when your book goes on submission, or maybe I should be reading a book in my category/genre or one that’s not? (And don’t get me started on reading. I just started reading books regularly again this past year and it was like reuniting with the love of my life).
Oh and when my husband is home, he’s asking me to watch a movie once the kids get to sleep. I want to, I swear. I miss him and I like spending that kind of time with him. But of course I’m legit stressing about the writing I won’t be doing if I watch a movie. So, I suggest one episode of Homeland. Then, I’m on my laptop click-clacking away until he figures out which episode we’re on. And after our pseudo-date, eventually, he falls asleep. He’s snoring. And I’m pissed because, how can he sleep at a time like this? I have so much stuff to do! My brain is running a million miles a minute and I can’t sleep. Oh how I wish it really was because of the snoring so I can blame him in the morning. But it’s not his fault. It’s me and all of the this:
Am I doing enough? (No, because I want to do so much more). Do I have enough time? (No, I have so much other stuff I need to do). I have all these stories to get down and will I be able to articulate it into words or I am only as good as my last (haha, only truly completed book) and what if I die or get really sick before I have time to…LIVE. Enjoy this happiness. Enjoy this whole writing thing. Because I am finally doing something right now that feels so absolutely ME and there’s all this work and knowledge seeking involved and I love every single second of it. Even when it’s hard and I’m wondering if I can even do this. Every second of the worst parts of the process–the rejections–the negative critiques–the cringe inducing mistakes–I love it. The passion I have for this whole thing is everything and what if I fail because I don’t have enough time to get all the work in. What if me working my hardest is not enough? Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far is that dreams and talent will not get you published. There’s hard work involved. And then some. What if I don’t figure out the “then some?”
In my last job, my boss used to say that we shouldn’t complain about a problem without having some sort of solution. It was a good lesson and I feel bad for dumping all this crap and negativity on you, so in conclusion, I will now present some positive ideas/helpful hints re: WRITING TIME. Or if you’re not a writer, change the verbiage for your own “you time” thing. This is what I’m working on right now and maybe something might work for you, too.
THE TIME IS THERE. You have enough time. You just have to make good use of it. No, I’m not talking time management. We’re big kids now so we’re aware that we should be managing our time better. Think of a time when you were happy, felt happy. Remember that feeling, how your body felt. How your body physically experienced it. When you’re feeling stressed for time, go back there and reclaim that feeling. Writers: When you’re sitting down to write, calm the hell down. This is your time. If the words aren’t coming, write whatever. Journal, write a poem as your MC, or write an awful dream sequence full of darlings that you can kill later.
Parents: When you’re with your kids, stop thinking about the book you should be writing. Am I saying this because you’re cheating your kid? No. Okay, well yeah, I am a little, because that’s crappy. Have fun with your kids, okay? But really, if you’re stressing about not writing all day long, when you do sit down to write later, you’re going to be more worked up and stressed. The writing time has become such a huge THING, that you’re putting too much weight on that little time you have, thus, adding more stress to the mix.
JUST SAY NO TO GUILT. Find more writing time. Take it. You deserve it. My husband has two days off a week. One of those days, I am going to take time for me, for writing. Me: “I’m sleeping in, you get up with the toddler, I’m waking up around 9 or so to get ready and go to Barnes & Noble to write all day long. I’ll see you around six. Love you. Kthxbye!” Okay, yeah, you’re maybe going to get that mom guilt thing going on and feel like an ass. This is whether the other person is amazing and calls you Judy Blume when you get home, kisses you on the cheek and asks how your writing went or if he texts you a few times telling you the kids are being crazy for who-knows-why and when are you coming home, but so what? Who cares. Not you! Not me. (Fake it til you make it people, work with me). (my husband is a hybrid-he does both).
CHEAP BABYSITTER. Can’t get out of the house? Stay in and pay someone to be your kid’s friend for two hours. Have your older kid do extra-work for a special reward. Or a hire a younger niece or nephew or neighbor kid for a few dollars (I’m talking a responsible younger kid (cuz real babysitters are expensive). Someone that’ll color and play quietly for $4.00 an hour while you lock yourself in your office or bedroom and write for an hour or two.
Trade babysittting time with someone. Barter. Call Grandma. Oh how I wish my MIL and mom weren’t in other states. : (
Join in on the #writeclub sprints on Fridays. Do a few 30 minute writing sprints with @FridayNightWrites. Or at least one. If it’s not a Friday and you want to but need motivation? Ask someone else on Twitter to “join” you for a writing date at a specific time.
PLAN D. If all else fails, tell everyone you have diarrhea and go in the bathroom, turn on the fan and write for an hour.
THE TIME IS NOW, LOVELIES. Whether you’re 16, 24, 32, 44, 56, 64, or 98, your writing time is now. It’s here and don’t waste it by stressing that you don’t have enough of it. It’s yours for the taking. Whether you get one story published or 108. Whether you get none published but have one or 108 manuscripts for your children or friends to read now or in the future. You are writing. It’s what you love. You did it when you were young and free and afraid and broken and in love and broken hearted and it was for no one’s eyes but your own. So just write. Write what you love, write for your heart, write for money, write what might sell and write what you might shelf. Write anything. Write everything. Just don’t write nothing.
For those of you that have depresso issues, here are a few of my favorite things: A small desk-top sunlamp, Omega 3 (squeeze packets cuz the capsules are so gross), reading on the treadmill, avoiding toxic relationships/people, a great therapist, at least one friend that legit knows those feels, and, yes, of course, writing.
Love this, and you ❤ So much of this is so much of how I feel, and I don't even have kids yet. (But oh, that husband stuff…oh yes.) And the key really is to figure out how to maximize the time you're spending on each thing. Not always as easy in practice but definitely something I hope to put more effort into this year! (Also, you do, indeed, look way freaking younger than 38.)
Thank you! And OMG Dahlia, I see all the writing and blogging you do and I’m literally secretly thinking, DON’T HAVE KIDS! (Aside from I need you to have the time to write all the things I want to read there’s REASON #12: Because I need you to have time for reading all the books to rec the best ones cuz I don’t have time to read that many) If you ever get the urge, by a couple dolls. (jk, children are wonderful)
Also, I only look younger because I was totally 37 and a half in this blog picture.
Here’s something to look forward to … maybe. When your kids are teens you’ll have plenty of time for writing because they’ll avoid being in the same room with you–most of the time. 🙂
However there are other distractions, like contests, keeping me from writing.
There’s always some sort of distraction–I think if I were in the middle of a desert, I’d still open up my laptop then be like, “Hey lemme check out that cactus!”
Ami I’m way behind on blog reading but so glad I caught this one. I get so lost in the mommy-wife-employee-writer mix sometimes I don’t know which way is up either. You should know I always read your blog/tweets and think “well, she’s got it figured out”. So you are at least faking it convincingly (and I think you are going it right too). Thanks for sharing the hard stuff. It’s a comfort to the rest of us.
You’re welcome! I’m glad you stopped by for this one. Figured out–that would be so easy. Just send over a maid, cook, driver, masseuse, and a time management specialist.