My good friend Carmela wrote such a lovely post on the subject of writing routine last Friday that there really isn't much left for me to say.
Like Carmela, I am the caregiver for two family members. I know any number of writers who tote their laptops to bedsides and waiting rooms and are perfectly productive. I am not one of those people. I am unable to isolate myself emotionally from the situation. I cannot write while I am worrying about finances and medication and contingency plans, should I not be available.
In his autobiography, Rewrites, playwright Neil Simon writes for months and months with his wife dying of cancer in the next room. Simon describes his ability to enter another world peopled only with characters of his own invention, a world where no one was dying of cancer. I wish Mr. Simon could tell me how he so neatly compartmentalized his life. It would be a valuable skill. But alas, he does not.I have been able to "write through" short term illnesses and crisis before. However, my situation for the past year has been one of ongoing issues and worries with no end in sight.
Upshot...I am too emotionally wrung out to write with any depth. I can edit, teach, research, even write blogs (although not as well as I would like to.) Trying to create something new takes heart and soul that I do not have on hand at the moment.
OK, back to the subject of routine/schedule, etc. Even when I am firing on all cylinders, the word "schedule" makes my skin crawl. I was raised in a home where every day of the week had a particular function (Wash Day, Baking Day, Shopping Day, Yard Work Day) and every hour was accounted for before the day began. Whether I was wired differently from my parents or just a rebellious kid, I did not take well to all that regimentation. I grew up to be a person who wrote term papers in two days (hey, anybody can write a good paper if you have a whole semester!) and mailed my tax returns at 11:59 p.m. April 15th.
I am a militant night owl. Left to my won devices, I would happily work graveyard shift. I loved being a school librarian, except that I had to be at school by 7;30, after a 40 mile drive. Add becoming a mother to my disorderly life, and one of two things happen. You either stop writing, or you write when you can.
I write when I can. Until this past year, I was pretty proud of my ability to write in ten minute chunks, wherever I happened to be. In the carpool line at school. On commuter trains. During boring sermons. Wherever. A good chunk of my day was spent at the skating rink, as my figure-skating daughter skated upwards of 20 hours a week.
I know there are writers who manage to carve out consecutive BIC hours (Butt in Chair) to stare at a blank computer screen, waiting for the Muse to arrive. I envy you. Even when my life unknots itself and I regain my full creative energy again (someday), I don't anticipate tidy "office hours" or outlines or schedules.
That's just the way I roll.
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Posted by Mary Ann Rodman