You know, I have a lot of writing friends who would LOVE to write more... fit in that time for a book... but they are at points in their lives with greater priorities—shaping the young lives and minds of the small people they created, attending college where nobody ever quite has time to do what the coursework requires, let alone a side project, working a time consuming job... maybe more than one of these at once. And you know what... I guess I think that is a legitimate reason that NOW is not WHEN. I guess I ALSO think there is not a reason to think that just because NOT NOW, doesn't mean NOT EVER. And maybe there are some ways to keep us linked to the writing world, so when it IS time, we have our framework in line to jump in with both feet.
So I'm going to talk a little about MY life stages (and how writing fit or didn't), and see if I might come up with anything useful for anybody. First off, I should probably say that the last time I didn't work full time was when I was a full time bachelor's student... I had some money for college, and other than an expectation that I would work summers for my own clothing expenses, I had room, board and a small spending fund—I think it was $200 a month, which, considering I was fed already, covered it most of the time. Some people have to work in college—I was lucky enough not to. Some people DON'T have to work later—sadly, I was never one of these... your story may deviate.
I wrote. I wrote a lot. But what I WROTE was what was necessary to maintain sanity in this emotionally turbulent time. I wrote poetry, I wrote letters, I wrote long journal entries... Other than a few 'outlines' of books and a short story class for which I was CLUELESS, I didn't write the kind of stuff I knew I eventually WANTED to write. I looked at it as a pipe dream... like the modeling and acting that I actually KNEW would never happen. Writing a novel seemed that far out of my realm of possibility, but I wrote other stuff.
Now the writing at that stage happened late at night... it was my unwind before bed, when homework had been abandoned. Though I also have pages and pages of poems from the back of class notebooks... times I wasn't paying attention or was waiting for the teacher... or digressing from studying.
Almost all of this stuff is angsty. I was a relatively happy person (it's my nature) but I never felt compelled to WRITE when happy... give me a little melancholy or bitterness and I was good to go.
I worked at an advertising agency and wrote nearly NOTHING. I worked hard—relatively long hours. I lived with friends. I socialized pretty much every evening. I belonged to a 'club' to work out and hit a 7pm aerobics class most nights. I met my to-be husband just 2 months into this job, but he worked for a bakery, so had to be there EARLY—it meant we mostly saw each other weekends, but STILL I managed to have no time. It just takes a lot of energy to be a 20-something gal.
Marriage didn't change anything... we still went out a lot.No writing.
Oddly, this is when I got back to writing. I did prerequisties and then my first year, all the while working full time as an Uber-worker at a microbrewery—Uberworker because the philosophy was all people did everything... I preferred being the cook. I would joke “I'm not a people person” and I was pretty fast on the grill, so I got my way a lot (Friday cook at the Broadway McMenamins for about 2 years, which anyone whose ever been there knows means I had to kick some burger BUTT). But when I finished my first year of grad school and faced summer... I had a BRAIN ready to go, and no real WORK that needed doing. I began my first novel. I wrote 250 pages (single spaced) of a horror novel based partially in Portland's Grunge scene, partially in Northern Idaho (the 'haunted' area to one end of Lake Coeur d'Alene) There was some good... mostly I didn't know how to plot, but I loved the character stuff... and then school started again, so it got left behind... The FOLLOWING summer I had my thesis on the table, then the decision to have a baby, which left me SLEEPING 14 hours a day. (Thing 1 totally took it outa me)
Keep in mind I was STILL working full time, PLUS thinking I needed to finish my thesis, PLUS being a mom... I should maybe mention I was also separated during this for about 18 months, so full-time working SINGLE mom... (you may spot why the book remained abandoned)
I finally finished my thesis when my daughter was 2 and went from 2 jobs (still pubbing, plus a research assistant job I'd done to fulfill the data collection piece, since my thesis used secondary data)... and the Research shop hired me full time... (did you hear me sigh in relief to only have one job?)
This part of my life was INSANE--[physically and emotionally], but I think it also built my stamina—I know I can DO two jobs and be a mom (provided I don't have to housekeep much). It makes NOW not look like much.
Moving to Michigan meant kids starting school (2 kids now)--the hubby was the at-home parent and I worked, but I had homework and reading duties (and bath) with the childings... so for several more years it seemed pretty busy...
And we've arrived at now... I have taken a bath most nights since my first pregnancy—it helps me relax... I typically read... when I discovered HPANA and got back to the writing, this is when it fit... then bathtime expanded... Where it had been 9-10, it became 8:30-10:30 as the kids quit reading with me—which it remains... I know... sounds like ages to soak, but I love it. I usually Sudoku first to turn OFF the day, then I write...(I also type and blog on my computer before that)
I guess my point is, though I've been driven to write since I was young, my need to have a job (never negotiable), my commitments to school and family... made it so I really didn't have TIME until now.
I think though, there are SOME things, that... had I BELIEVED in myself before, I might have done to stay connected... I had that bath time... had I committed to 30 minutes a day of writing... it would have helped with discipline... finding writing communities to talk to a little—especially some people who had similar obstacles... though I gotta be honest... the time suck would have been BAD for my career (not sure it's very good for my career NOW.)
Carry the notebook... write when you can... lunch, at the park watching the kids... When the identity commitment is made, I think we find a way...
ABSOLUTELY find a place to share some of your work. It is heartening to get feedback—that is why the fan fiction setting was so perfect for me. I would post and someone would respond... and it was encouraging... they LIKED it... I still think there isn't a better training ground for someone who really isn't sure where to start. It gives you as much or as little superimposed structure and character as you want, so you can work on a couple components at a time.
So I guess I am wanting both to VALIDATE people who identify as writers but have trouble making time, and PLEAD with them to examine how they might stay connected anyway...
HA! (see that—there was a point).