Saturday, November 10, 2007

Finding Time

Back before I had children, I didn't realize just how few hours there are in a day. I had all of the time in the world to sleep late and laze around, and write. Come Friday, I'd be up into the wee hours of the morning working on a manuscript. It was okay because I could sleep until noon the next day if I needed to. I could spend hours wandering around the internet, looking things up, or spend an entire day in the library or Barnes and Noble. My time was just that - my time.

Now I have two kids and 24 hours just ain't enough. My family is plenty understanding when I'm on deadline. After all, if I miss it, the entire book can get held up and no one wants that. So if I'm editing on deadline, no one complains when dinner's a little late, or Mommy can't play one more game of Candyland (which is just as well because I never win anyway.) My husband doesn't gripe about having to change the Boy or get the Girl into the shower. It's pretty peaceful, actually.

But when I'm working on something new that isn't on a deadline, the whole thing changes and I scramble to find the time to get in five pages or to research whether or not forks were in use in the time period I've chosen to write about. I can't spend hours in my office, talking to myself as I try to get a feel for my characters' speech (and I do this often - You'd think there were a dozen people in my office, all from a different part of the world. I find hearing how they sound most definitely helps me in choosing their words, but anyone not in the know would think I've lost my mind.)

As my kids get older, my time becomes more and more at a premium. It's easier when they're babies. They sleep a lot and their naps are relatively lengthy. Perfect for finishing a chapter or hunting down that obscure fact.

But as they get older, they actually want to interact with you and claim a lot more of your time. Now, lest you think I'm complaining, I'm not. My kids are a lot of fun to be with - for the most part - but there are those times when I wish I had just one day entirely to myself. Mother's Day and my birthday are pretty much those times - and that's only twice a year. Try writing, researching, and revising in two days spread six months apart. Not going to happen.

I'm a night owl by nature, but the Boy rises and shines at about 7 AM. I am decidedly unrisen and most definitely not shiny at that ungodly hour. Personally, I think it should be against the law to be awake before 8AM, but I'm pretty much in the minority on that one. And until such a law is passed, that means I operate on auto-pilot until about my fifth cup of coffee.

I tend to lose track of time when I'm writing. I'll go into my office at 8PM, once the kids are in bed, and all of the sudden, it's one in the morning and I'm still wide awake. I'd write all night if I could. Only I'd crash just as my kids are getting up.

So I'm learning to squeeze in fifteen minutes here, ten minutes there. I revise after they go to bed. It's been a long time since I've started a new project, but I've got a few things rattling around in my head, so it won't be so long until I'm back ignoring a lot of silly little things in order to write. The dusting will wait. The vacuuming will wait. I need that time to write. Besides, I know that the day will come when I have the house entirely to myself and the kids will be off doing their own thing, coming home to sleep, eat, and shower. I don't mind squeezing out the five minutes here, or pulling a short night's sleep. It isn't the easiest thing in the world, but it works for me, for now. Besides, the Girl's waiting - it's time for a Candyland rematch.


Nita said...

My husband was a night owl, he thought going to bed at 5am perfectly logical. Of course, that made getting up at 7 to go teach a tad rough, so he forced himself to go to bed a little earlier. Still, his students knew he was on auto pilot and not really awake and functioning until third hour.

My sister is also a night owl. She believes anything that needs to be done before noon can't be important.

I'm usually up by 6, but not really functioning until around 8.

Kim said...

I'm the same way - or I was - going to bed just the rest of the (sane) world was getting up.

I would so love to get up with the sun - it's a beautiful time of day and I did it for a month or so when my daughter was about 3. Unfortunstely, I couldn't make it last... =)