I’m in the middle of a major transition. I have more time at home now, but it’s time to work. I am NOT retired. Please. I’m much too young to be retired. Besides, how can you be retired when you have two part-time jobs?
My time at home, thank you very much, is not for doing art projects or shopping or visiting friends or, heaven forbid, cleaning my house. (However, I must admit to a mid-morning latte break with Steve every day–the one indulgence I allow myself.)
Three weeks into my new normal and I’ve got my schedule well-planned. It’s an organizational marvel, written out in a variety of colors on my monthly and weekly white boards. I’ve been able to squeeze in two full days devoted to nothing but writing (and that mid-morning latte break).
A few years back, when I needed a quiet place to spend hours writing and reading for my master’s degree, I started converting our guest room into a multi-purpose office for me. Funny thing was that when I’d go upstairs to work, I actually felt as though I’d entered a different world, miles away from my home.
Everything I need is poised within reach and ready for me, if I’d ever sit at my desk and open my computer for real writing. No one can say it better than Flannery O’Connor:
Every morning between 9:00 and 12:00, I go to my room for a piece of paper. Many times I just sit there with no ideas coming to me. But I know one thing. If an idea comes between 9:00 and 12:00, I am ready for it.
So what’s the problem? Why can I still not catch up? I mean, it’s been three weeks. So what if I was sick one week. Come on!
The reason is: I’m overloaded. I just have way too much to do. Even two days is not enough.
I have a feeling you might be able to relate to that.
When I tick off my to-do list, it grows to yeti-size and I start hyper-ventilating.
Yes, I know. Take it one small chunk at a time. The problem is, I don’t know where to start. Which chunk do I break off first?
I have article deadlines. Agents to query. This blog to write. Retreat talks to prepare. A novel to revise. (Are you ever finished revising? I don’t think so.)
Then there’s new writing to do. A new novel I’ve barely started. I pile pressure on myself about that one. I can’t let my writers group down. I joined the group for accountability, and instead I get guilt. The guilt comes straight from me.
My biggest overload comes from teaching a college class for my first time ever. What was I thinking? I’ve always admired teachers, but now, with my vast two month’s experience, I don’t see how they do it. The time I spend preparing for class and grading papers is time away from actual writing.
On top of everything, life interrupts. It just does. There’s nothing any of us can do to stop it. Just last week, I had my monthly Grand Jury duty, a colonoscopy (yuck!), a filling, and 20 three-page papers to grade.
But here’s the thing. There will always be something (someone) tugging on us and yelling to us, trying to pull us away from what we want to do. The scream of urgent tasks deafens the murmur of important ones.
Writing is my important task. It’s the reason I left my full-time job. It’s the dream God gave me.
And so I try. I sit at my computer, answer emails and like things on Facebook. Then I get hungry and I walk downstairs. As I re-enter my messy home, the distant memory of cleaning it tries to get my attention. Dust bunnies call to me.
But, hey, it’s October. I love everything about October. The colors. The cooler temperatures. The falling leaves.
Here’s the best part about October. I can let the spiders take over. Their webs become free decorations.
You are awesome. It’s only been three weeks, not three months or years. Give yourself breathing space. You need and deserve it. You are a writer so once you have oxygen you will write–you’ll be driven to it seamlessly and happily. The term “transition” has meaning. Love and pamper yourself during this special time–and let Steve take care is dust bunnies, my friend.
Thanks, Maddie. That means so much coming from someone who knows and who has lived it and is living it. And living it beautifully.