It’s an obvious statement to declare that I’m tired. I still get hammered with rapid-fire thoughts but the parts of my body I use for speech can’t keep up, so I wind up cutting my sentences short and fingering the lid of my iced mocha. I’m living at DEFCON 3 of irritation. Things like red light runners, people who take up spare seats next to them with their possessions so nobody else can sit down, line cutters, are all a hair away from my personal rendition of the riot act. No, you can’t put your plate of crumbs on my table at the coffee shop. Gee, I would rather you not drive in two lanes or loud talk your way through the produce aisle as if I care about the conversation you’re having with your invisible Bluetooth friend. I marvel that we’ve gone from Copernicus to nanotechnology in less than a millennium, but I’m a little perplexed that we use our progress for cat videos and Katy Perry. (No offense to Ms. Perry. Your video with Elmo is adorable and it keeps my toddler happy for two minutes and forty-one seconds.)
There’s an upside to having scant shreds of time for oneself and limitless aggravation, however. Priorities are quickly reset. Relationships, ranked. Anything lower than say, dedicated hobby, is truncated right off the schedule. Annoying people, curtailed. Poof, gone, vamoose. Bye Felicia is spoken to anyone who isn’t long-term important. And conflicts, when one needs to have them, are over in short order. Don’t process with me as you argue, because I’ll cut to the base issue. Dang, if only this had been my strategy when I was 23 and not 43. I could have lived a couple of additional lifetimes or something, with all of the saved time.
Limited time has also sped up my writing process—when I can get my brain to work well enough to generate writing, that is. But if the circuits are firing, I find I’m not dilly-dallying with junk like Facebook and email, I’m just writing. I carved out three new story arcs for my time travel series this week (Note to self: negotiate with publisher about the series) and got restarted on writing those 10,000 words I lost when my hard drive died last month. I don’t know when I’ll have a steady block of writing time again so I WRITEWRITEWRITE whenever I have the chance. Tomorrow may not show its face. Write when you get the chance, Maroon.
A new distraction in my world is the lovely spring weather. I am terrible at typing into a computer outside. And I like to write in a notebook, but I seriously require a flat writing surface thirty-four inches off the ground to be able to scribble anything legible onto a page. My knees are creaky, my back complains if I bend over for hours just to pretend I’m not repeating Raymond Carver’s work from half a century ago. Grass is fine, but grass stains are a beast to remove from my jeans. I’m just not very outdoorsy. I’m more…lodge dwelling. But even so I can’t resist walking around our manufactured park lawns with my wee ones, hiding under 80-foot pine trees and meandering over to the Mill Creek. Emile likes to push straw through the fence and watch it get carried away on the tiny crests of water. He hasn’t quite figured out why the detritus he tosses away never comes back to him, however. I’ll work on explaining that better.
I’ve gotten a few emails and instant messages from people asking with an air of incredulity how I find any time to write. Well, there’s no easy answer. I prioritize it. I squeeze it in when it’s 3:17AM and the baby has finally fallen asleep and I’m half-zoned out myself. I stick to my pre-Lucas writing schedule as much as I can (which isn’t much these days). I scribble down notes if that’s all the time I have. I let my characters do ridiculous things in my head that I’d never let them get away with in the bounds of the written story—and I can’t really say enough about staying present in the narrative. Keep it near you like a basketball, never off of your fingertips for long. For me, because I’m in the lifelong process of reclaiming my writinghood, I insist in 48 different ways that I’m going to keep writing. Tulips are pretty, and I am engaged in the world around me, with all of its aggravations, beauty, and surprises, but for me, my family and my work and my writing is life. This may not be the most productive time for squeezing words out of my brain, but I’d rather spend my energy making happen what I can than complaining about it.
Those Felicias, though? That whooshing sound is the door about to hit ya on the derriere.