Time is an amazing thing. It slips past in massive chunks and freezes in the worst moments. You know the ones—those experiences you wish you could forget that seem to hang in the corners of your mind. The ones that rise up at two in the morning or when you’re driving to the dentist. They lay in shadow, just waiting for the right moment of peace or insecurity to push up like a midnight flower and bloom again.
I like to think of them as my own personal plot holes. I find myself dancing around them over and over wondering if there is a way to go back and try a different way. It was during a period of my life when I was desperate to escape the constant circling of wanting to edit parts of my life that I was driven to write. Mostly to get the screaming woman out of my head. She was pushy and needed to be managed.
That is when I discovered my biggest issue with time. It turned out all those years ago, that writing was more than a passing fancy. My busy thoughts and creative need pushed me through my first novel and every day since has been filled with a driving need to write. Sadly, those same days have been full of the need to care for my family and maintain gainful employment.
I promise myself on a regular basis I will carve out writing time at a reasonable hour. By reasonable, I mean before midnight or after I’ve slept for six or seven hours. It just never seems to happen. Instead, I burn the midnight oil. Sometimes nearly falling asleep sitting up trying to churn out one more page, or finish a thought before I go to bed, fearful if I don’t write it down I won’t remember. (Everyone who writes has at least one story of the lost perfect idea. It is why so many wonderful novels had their start on a cocktail napkin. Like the one about a boy with a lightning scar…)
I have often said that I needed every day to be 48 hours. The first 24 for everyone in my life who needs something from me and the next just for me. As a writer in the throws of revisions or caught on the speeding downslope of a roller-coaster plot that just took off, it’s painful to push away from the keyboard. Painful, but often required.
One of the things I have discovered as I work to find mental space and actual time to write, is that some things are changing. I am less worried about home cooked meals, and far more comfortable ordering chinese food online. I don’t fret if I choose to write instead of do dishes or laundry. I have also discovered that I procrastinate less. If it HAS to be done, I do it now.
The best part about putting an end to most of my procrastination is that I meet deadlines better than ever before. I am less likely to be meeting a deadline for work or one that I set for myself, by staying up all night to do it. That makes the writing time I eek out far more satisfying and less stressful. The worst part about it is things like taxes and bed time for my youngest. Knowing I have to deal, doesn’t make it any easier to actually deal.
If anyone out there has found a way to magically make time stand still so that they can write, please let me know. In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing what has to be done in a timely manner so that I can do what I want to do with the rest—even if that is five minutes at two o’clock in the morning.