It’s funny how changes impact your life (and your writing).
Seven months ago, I was a week away from welcoming my little girl into the world, and I was working 50+ hours a week trying to finish up everything my boss needed me to finish before I went on maternity leave.
We won’t discuss how I feel about the maternity leave provided by my employer (the bare minimum of 12 weeks unpaid – at a hospital, no less – of which I could only afford to take eight) or the fact that I was working on more projects as my time neared instead of starting to hand things off. What bothered me the most was that with the amount of time I spent working, I had little time to relax and just enjoy the last few times I would get to spend just sitting and reading without having a little person needing me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mother. My daughter is now my husband’s and my world. However, that doesn’t keep me from wanting to just sit under a blanket and read for a solid hour without needing to do anything else.
And if I don’t have time to read, when will I have time to write? Stephen King says it best: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”
When I returned from maternity leave, I was again working the long hours, and I also had the normal chores at home, plus taking care of my daughter, and it turned out that the only time I had to read – unless I wanted to stay up late and could do so without falling asleep two pages in – was during my two 20 minute breaks to pump.
Granted, it was better than nothing, but it wasn’t what I was used to doing. Reading was my get away from it all strategy, to take a break and clear my head. I wanted to delve into a book and relax, but when you’re sitting with a mechanical machine attached to you and you have to concentrate on relaxing and providing that miracle of life you created with food, it’s difficult to truly clear your head.
Obviously, if I had no time to read, when did I have time to write? I haven’t even looked at my couple of works in progress since before my daughter was born. That’s been the biggest disappointment for me over the last year. I want to write, but I knew I couldn’t do so if I didn’t have time to read and exercise my mind, which I couldn’t do in my current conditions.
So I decided I needed to make a change. And before you think it was just for my ability to have some time to read (and write), I’ll correct you. It was also for my daughter and husband, so that I could spend more time with them and actually be with them when I was at home, instead of half ways on a computer screen doing work all the time.
It took me a little while, but I’ve found a new job. There’s plenty to do here, but I’m writing again, and it makes my fingers itch to keep finding the keyboard. The new job is also a five minute commute from my home (and about a one-minute walk from my daycare) which frees up more time for everything.
I’ve also talked to my husband about a writing plan. Twice a week (with varying schedules depending on what we have going on) I get at least one hour to write, read, or do something creative like this, on my own, without an interruption. We haven’t fully implemented this yet, but the plan is to do so in September.
I’m probably going to start with just reading a thick book that’s designed to get the creative juices flowing and get me thinking. Then I’ll move to rereading my WIPs and notes on those to remember what my plans were for those. I’m hoping having that little bit more time each week will allow me to actually push myself toward reaching my writing goals and accomplish more reading and writing.
I’ve implemented what I thought were good plans in the past, and they’ve fallen through. I’m hoping this goes better, and I am able to write and do what’s needed to make my life whole. Because that’s how it feels for me to not write: as if I’m missing something important, every day. So here goes.