The Things We Do (Or Don’t Do) for Words

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?


About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Creativity, Goal-Setting, humor, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to The Things We Do (Or Don’t Do) for Words

  1. tsonoda148 says:

    Oh this was a good one, as I’m sure everyone will agree. My ‘skeletons’ have skeletons, so I won’t go into all of that. I will say that my school work suffers because of my passion for writing. It all evens out though, when professor assigns a juicy writing assignment. I get a big grin on my face and go at it like there’s no tomorrow. Sleep? Only when exhaustion permits and the pain killer for my arthritis sets in.
    I’m feelin ya sistah. Oh lordy, I’m much too old to be trying to talk like that. Have a nice day!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      That sounds an awful lot like me when I tried to do grad school – I LOVED the writing assignments. But I think you are total rocking awesomeness (and yeah, I’m probably too old to say that lol!) for sticking with school AND writing AND working. I couldn’t make all 3 work, and both times after semesters of giving up writing it was school that I always gave the boot – one of my lingering regrets. Maybe I’ll finish my masters when I can retire : )!

  2. Patti Kuche says:

    Nothing gets in my way when the pen hits the page. That this doesn’t happen often enough explains why my apt is clean and reasonably tidy most of the time. Otherwise I am more than happy to let go of so much. Also, when I don’t have to cook for some one else I am more than happy not to bother for myself although I might boil an egg. Does this count?

    Keep it all going!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Oh yes, it all definitely counts Patti! When I get in that pen-hits-the-page (or for me, fingers-hit-the-keyboard) stage, nothing stops me either. But there are also days where I have to force it, dragging my butt to my computer chair the same way I drag it to the ski machine in the gym. I’m always glad I did both afterwards, but the getting there can be tough!

  3. I have OCD…seriously there are days that is the only thing that saves me, and I am lazy as hell at night, and I am single…ok, none of those are good are they? Dammit…

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Laziness can rule in the right doses – we spend so much time running sometimes we gotta kick back and just veg and think – or else how will we come up with stuff to write and blog about? And being single means you are with one of the most awesome people you know – yourself – and that’s better than being with the wrong person any day : ).

  4. Cari says:

    Oh my goodness, Pam! I only just woke up a few minutes ago so it’s just way to ‘early’ to be laughing as hard as I am. Then again, hilarity is a wonderful way to start the day, isn’t it? 😀

    I may not work a ‘regular’ job as you do, but I used to before I got too sick to do so & would frantically rummage through those very same closets (they must’ve phoned each other & decided they just weren’t going to let us organize them or be nice to us & organize themselves) trying desperately to find the least wrinkled set of scrubs that actually matched. Heaven forbid anyone be sweet to me by buying me those cute scrubs that have the most adorable patterns/colors/animals on them, for the cutest ones were invariably 100% cotton requiring ironing which was more akin to wrestling. Have you ever tried to iron scrubs? They may look simple, but it’s all lies. Lies I tell you! Just when one pocket finally turns out ‘right’, you realize the whole other side of the shirt got wrecked whilst you were perfecting that huge pocket. Ack!

    You mean I’m not the only one who has dust bunnies that breed? Hmmm… Maybe we should make some new ‘designer breed’ of pet, Pam! I don’t worry that they’ll eat my pets, I worry that one day I’ll mistake one of them as another stray that needs us & become a pet. Yeah. I’m thinking I have some housework to do but… nah! Writing & blog-hopping meeting new people is much more fun than that obscene word, ‘housework’. *shudders* 😉

    As to #11… They’re supposed to come with radar or tracking devices? I was robbed! Not only do I give the ‘huh?’ blank stare when someone asks me where something is, I put important things away in ‘safe places’ & then when I want the aforementioned important item, promptly arrive at the realization that I’ve forgotten where I hid it. Yep. Still on the hunt for that $50 PlayStation Network gift card my significant other surprised me with at the beginning of August. I wonder if the dust bunnies ate it. Apparently, I not only was robbed of this wonderful radar va-jay-jay I’m supposed to have, but I’ve also managed to somehow Cari-proof the house. 😛

    There are way more skeletons–probably with skeletons of their own–that we have in common, Pam, but I don’t want to completely thread jack. Maybe, in the spirit of Halloween, my skeletons should go dancing around in a blog post, too. Then I’ll just point my finger back here (that is, if I haven’t lost my way here even though I put the directions in a safe place) & say Pam made me do it. *falls over giggling* 😉

    I have to say that, just from this post, I already find you completely endearing & can’t wait to get to know you even more. You are so much fun, Pam. I’m very glad David brought you over to my blog so I’d have the chance to ‘meet’ you. 😀

    • hawleywood40 says:

      We have more and more in common, Cari! I have never had a job where I wore scrubs, but I imagine ironing them would be a royal pain, and if I did I would so want ones with the Steelers logo (like a good friend of mine has) and ferrets on them! I wonder if they make them with ferrets? And you totally reminded me that among the many things lost somewhere under my dustbunnies is at least one gift card – in my case a bookstore one. Arrrrghhh – I need to find that, only that would require getting up : )! Looking forward to getting to know you through your blog too!

  5. Stacy Green says:

    This was great. We all have our dirty writing secrets and we all have to pick and choose what we can and can’t do. I’m lucky enough to do at home child care so I can keep a halfway decent house and don’t have to worry about clothes matching, lol.

    Thanks for sharing!

  6. kimkiminy says:

    Great post. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who does just about ALL of those things!

  7. Skeletons in the closet? Not me. I drive myself to . . . ooh, a squirrel! And look at that shiny Corvette go by. Um . . . what were we talking about?

  8. akamonsoon says:

    LOL, I’m laughing over the fact that you throw your clothes in the dryer to get the wrinkles out, too! You and I really have a lot in common.

    Where writing is a portion of the work that I do in my current job, I’d have to say carving out a good couple hours to just sit, think, research and then write it all down into a format that makes sense to someone that is not me while answering phones and dealing with a gazillion other things going on around me has been the biggest challenge.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      So my dryer dewrinkled clothes are in awesome company : )! I do some work-related writing (and testing and research too) and find what you say here to be sooo true. If I’m distracted by phones or walk-in questions while I’m in the middle of something, I lose my groove and it takes forever to get it back. Same thing with happening to stop work on a project and go to a meeting – I’m just not the same when I get back to my desk!

  9. Is it truth or dare time? Should I tell you the truth here or dare to write a similar blog? Hmmm. You really laid it on the line for us. I think my true confessions would be too long for this comment area. So I’m taking the dare. I’ll write a true confessions–but it won’t be as impressive as yours. I promise! 😉

  10. Jess Witkins says:

    *sigh* You’re human. I was beginning to wonder. We cut many of the same corners in order to write. My writing desk isn’t where I write because it’s mounded with stacks of clothes waiting to be hung or put away, I like to cook, but will eat popcorn, cheese slices and chocolate if it means I don’t have to stop writing, and the dustbunnies in my house are putting together a family album. LOL

    I’m both excited and anxious for NaNoWriMo to begin as I worry what’s next. I think I need to invest in postcards so my friends will know I’m dead somewhere, just writing. Wine helps too. 😉

  11. Aurora, HSP says:

    Everything I can let slide, slides. Writing anchors me like nothing else in life ever has or ever will. Off to do some more 🙂

  12. Love numbers 13-15 – described my writing life in a nutshell too. Oh to have a cleaning fairy to clean the entire house so I have more writing time… 🙂

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