Monday, April 16, 2012

Part-Time Writer (and Full-Time Mommy)

"What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window." - Burton Rascoe

Luckily I have a husband who does understand. Usually all it takes is an, “I'm working.” and ta-da, instant alone time! He's awesome.

It's often hard to find alone time, especially if you have a family of your own. For instance, I am a stay-at-home mom. Well, how hard can it be for me? All I do is watch soap operas and eat bon-bons while the child plays in the street, yes? Nope. I get up at 6 am every day, about an hour before he rises, and go to bed between 11 and 12. Between 6 and 7 I work out; between 7 am and 8 pm I am caring for the toddler, doing 100% of the housework and cooking, tending the garden, doing the shopping, going to the playground/story time/the library etc. My son has very strict limits on his TV time and computer use, so I get an hour a day while he is awake, tops, to clean the house/wash dishes/write blog posts.

After he goes to bed there is laundry to fold, dishes to wash, a (charming and funny) husband to converse with, and the ever-present lure of that modern Charybdis, the Internet, to pluck at my mind. Not to mention that by 8 I am usually so tired I have to force myself to pick up a pen and face that blank sheet of paper.

But then I think of Stephen King. I am not a huge fan of his work, but I recommend his sharp, useful, honest memoir On Writing to anyone who wants to write anything, ever. King wrote his first novel, Carrie, after a long day of teaching and grading papers, after his kids were in bed, while sitting in the laundry room. I at least have a desk and my kid goes to bed at a reasonable time. If King can do it, so can I.

I write all day, really, despite my duties (or because of them; being a stay-at-home mom is simultaneously the most challenging and most boring job I have ever had). I feel that I do the real work while staring out the window- or digging in the garden, making monster masks out of paper plates, listening to the children's librarian read some book that fits today's story time theme- and the actual writing is just the drudge bit. I am not a fast writer, particularly because of my need to write longhand first, but I get it done. When I worked full-time, I always spent at least 30 minutes of my lunch break writing. Now I don't get lunch breaks (or sick days, or time off) so I do what I can.

I don't believe people who say they want to write but have no time. As my husband told me once, everyone has time to do whatever they want; it's a matter of priorities. If learning to crochet is that important, you'll give up something else- watching a movie or washing the dishes- to do it. Same with writing. My house isn't a showplace, but I'm published. My husband wants a happy, productive wife more than he wants organized cupboards. I wouldn't have married him otherwise.

It's hard to be a part-time writer in a full-time world, but not impossible. Lots of people do it. If you really want to, you can too.

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