Monday, January 21, 2013

Who, Me? Schedule?

     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.

    Don't forget to sign up for our latest giveaway, a copy of Brenda Ferber's The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever. Check Esther's last post for details.

    Posted by Mary Ann Rodman



Sylvia Liu said...

Great post. Once I make it to my computer or to my drafting table I can get going, but I always find distractions and excuses before I sit myself down. Good luck with regaining your creative energies!

Linda B said...

What is that silly quote, "life is what happens when you're doing something else!" It's what I feel sometimes, just when I am settling in, I think of something else that cannot wait. It might be my way of ignoring what I "should" be doing, or I just have too many things on my plate right now but I do not have a particular schedule except I do go to work mostly at certainly times. I hope you'll be able to settle sometimes, Mary Ann. It sounds as if you are working extra for others, & I know how that feels. Best to you!

Joanna said...

Thanks for this lovely honest post. I find I cannot write when I am dealing with family drama/trauma, I wish I could use it as my out, but I can't. I do not have a writing routine, but try and at least write a few minutes a day, even if it is only in my journal! GOOD LUCK with those precious chunks of writing time.

Sandra Stiles said...

What a wonderful post. The timing was perfect. In the past I was the queen of schedules and lists. Now that my mom lives with us and I have extra, extra duties at school I find I can't schedule my writing any more. When my sister asked the other day when my book would be finished I told her, "when I finally found time to write." Had to think about what I said. I've gotten so busy taking care of mom, visiting hospital and rehab, taking care of grandkids and all my duties at school I forgot to take care of what I love, my reading and writing. I don't know if I can go back to scheduling time each evening or morning but you made me think and re-evaluate my writing time. Thanks.

Doraine said...

I hear you, Mary Ann. I am in a very similar position, caring for parents and finding the emotional energy to create is just out of reach. I've been sorting through some of my own emotions over this inability to write in my journal and blog, trying to find ways to embrace the process, both the grieving and the writing. Wishing you moments of joy as you find your way through. Thanks for sharing.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I so love your Honesty, Mary Ann.
And, from my view, you're rolling pretty darn swell!
Your Fan Esther

Anne Bromley said...

Mary Ann, this is so heartfelt and honest and inspiring. Thank you for sharing what it means to "live your life."

Carmela Martino said...

>>I am too emotionally wrung out to write with any depth<<
I can definitely relate to this, too, Mary Ann. Meanwhile, I tell myself, "this too shall pass," and I hope that's true for you, too.

April Halprin Wayland said...

This is a haunting post, Mary Ann-- it hits too close to home.

92-year-old Uncle Davie's needs took the stuffing out of me today. Today was the day I was going to clean my desk so I could write.

The Clean Desk Fairy is going to be very angry at me...

Jill said...

Great post, MA. Trying to schedule writing time makes me rebel, too. Working on that compartmentalizing thing... said...

You sound just like me. I've recently discovered memo feature on my phone so if a poem pops up on a dog walk in it goes. I've even started blogging from my phone, so much freer than sat at a pc.