In our blogs, we often put our best foot forward. Here in Hawleyville, I am a woman who gets up 3-5 times a week and drags her butt to the gym before the sun comes up. I am a woman who works 8 (if she’s lucky) to ten (usually more like it) hours a day at a job that can be stressful and demanding. I am a woman who completes 3 blog posts a week and at least tries her damndest to make them interesting.
And I’m a woman who makes marginal progress on other writing goals each week – be it a bit of work on the novel, tweaking one of my existing short stories, playing with other ideas, or researching and communicating with potential new markets.
When I’m not doing all that, I’m a woman who tries to have some semblance of a social life and who spends time doing things with the man she loves.
I am that woman here at Hawleyville because I walk in her shoes every day. I’ve had readers here comment on my diligence and wonder how I manage to keep it all going.
That’s a valid question, because I don’t always show the flip side here. It isn’t like I”m trying to hide it or anything. I just don’t always think about showing what’s wrong along with what’s right. I read the blogs of so many other writers who manage to plug away at their wordsmithing each week in spite of hectic jobs or busy family lives or both. Many of them get a lot more writing-related work done each week than I could ever hope to accomplish, and leave me wondering “how in the heck does s/he do THAT?”
So for those who wonder the same about me, this is how I make it happen.
1. Mornings find me scrambling through piles of chaos in my closet, because I never bother to put my clothes away in any type of organized fashion. Just when I’m about to give up and call work and say I can’t come in unless they want me there naked, my eyes land on a wrinkled pair of khakis and a shirt that just might match.
2. When I find these wrinkled somethings that might pass for work clothes, I toss them in the dryer instead of ironing them. That way, I can write while they make themselves presentable.
3. I sulk and pout on Monday mornings. Even if your kids moan and groan and give you heck when it is time to head to the school bus, I could give them a lesson or two about the I-don’t-wanna temper tantrum.
4. I spend way too much money on food and coffee, because I cannot be arsed to get organized enough to pack lunches or make a thermos. Every second counts if I’m gonna squeeze in at least a few paragraphs AND a workout.
5. The dustbunnies under my couch and in the corners of my bookshelves have grown dustbunnies of their own. Sometimes I worry that they will eat my pets.
6. I honestly can’t remember the last time I’ve done something girly like give myself a manicure or pedicure. My nail care ritual is a pair of clippers. My roots grow way too long between dye jobs. Most of my clothes are basic black because I don’t want to have to think too much about whether or not they match.
7. I suck horrendously at things like remembering birthdays and important upcoming events. One of the things I love about Facebook is that it reminds me in time to at least leave a note wishing my friends a special day.
8. I rarely take “go somewhere” vacations, because I use my leave time for writing days. In spite of my best efforts, I inevitably fall behind and need to play catch-up.
9. There are times when if it wasn’t for the fact that Lee was with me I’d probably get run over by a bus crossing the street, because my head is off in storyland.
10. I am known to get so distracted by ideas during meetings or conversations that if you know me long enough, you will inevitably come face-to-face with my confused “huh?” look.
11. You know that myth about va-jay-jays having tracking devices to help find missing items? C’mon, there MUST be one. I’ve never been in a household where the first thing children and grown men alike don’t do when they misplace something is run to mom/wife/woman in the house and say “where’s my shirt/keys/wallet/favorite coffee cup/game/underwear/hat/whatever.” Unfortunately for Lee, he got a girl with a defective va-jay-jay if they were supposed to come with magic “find-it” powers. My confused “huh” look applies here too.
12. When I was single, I would often choose to have toast or even pickles for dinner rather than buy real food and plan and make meals. If it wasn’t for the fact that Lee is a good cook who wants three-squares-a-day and doesn’t mind making them, that would still be the case.
13. I go days at a time on 4-5 hours of sleep, then crash and burn and sleep like a zombie for 12 hours or so.
14. If someone’s coming over, I stuff things in closets to make the house look neater.
15. In spite of all that, I STILL don’t write nearly as much as I want.
So there you have it. The secret to my success is that I live in chaos, don’t put away my laundry or clean nearly as much as I should. I’ve given up on ever being a girly-girl and have a reputation amongst my nearest and dearest as a serious airhead.
Hey, whatever it takes, right?
I share all this because I believe all writers with lots of other obligations have similar little secrets. They may not be ditzy slobs like me, but unless you wear a cape and have an “S” on your chest, something’s gotta give somewhere. One writer may only work part-time and scramble to pay the bills. Another might struggle to maintain relationships and have a social life. There simply aren’t always enough hours in the day.
If we all look at each other and see perfection, we start to ask ourselves why we can’t meet our own writing goals and still maintain the career/workout schedule/perfect family/great relationship/clean house/busy social life other wordsmiths seem to make so seamless. We start to feel flawed.
I’m holding down the career, the workout regimen, and the relationship while still managing to write and sometimes have a social life. I do it by accepting a certain amount of clutter in my home, even more clutter in my brain, and a frequent shortage of sleep.
I could give up the workout regimen to have time to fold laundry, have a more organized household and pack lunches while still writing every day. But then I’d have a bigger ass.
We all have to make choices, and I think for most of us what ends up happening is that being a writer isn’t pretty.
And that’s okay, because if we keep at it, the end result just might be beautiful.
So, in the spirit of the Halloween season, share the skeletons in YOUR closet. What do you let fall by the wayside to make room for words in your life?