Do I have to?

Okay, this is totally a rant, so ignore it if you’re not into that sort of thing. I’m struggling to get into my story, and I’m going to blame life. This week started out as something of a panic attack. I had Monday off, but still had phone calls from work (This is generally okay, I’d rather have the discussion on sampling difficulties real-time than weeks later when nothing can be done about it.) Then, on Tuesday, I spent most of the day memorizing four slides of a presentation I’ve already given, along with a good 40 pages of supporting material. (I love the State’s public process. It makes me feel good about the state we live in – everyone can have a say in regulation, but when you work for the state, it can sometimes feel outrageously onerous to prepare for a presentation for a proposal that could very well be DoA.) Sometime during this memorization process, I got an e-mail asking to submit an abstract for the ‘little triple-a’s’ (This is cool and all, I mean getting to stand in front of folks and say: I help to manage the largest data-set of subsistence information in the world and now I’ve got a super-shiny way for you to look at our data, is super-neat. I mean, what I’ve got to present becomes a bit of an ego-trip.) sort of no-problem (I cheated and submitted the same abstract I used for a presentation at a climate change conference in November), except that I’ve already got 4 30-page survey instruments to finalize, and finish the database redesign project I’ve been promising for the better part of six months, and also the one major analysis project I didn’t delegate is four months behind schedule. At the end of the workday, with all this on my mind, I keep opening the file containing the first 12 pages of chapter 11, scanning to the end, and staring blankly at the last paragraph. I KNOW what needs to go there, I can see it, it’s not long, or even difficult to write, yet I can’t get there. I’m just too distracted by work!

Ahhh -now that’s off my chest, I’ve got an hour before bed. I think I’m going to close wordpress, pour a nip of the cheapest whiskey I have in the house, and stare at that chapter for a while.


Stuck today

Today was one of those days where I couldn’t get anything written. I had a particularly intense day that had me fighting off a panic attack by 2. This is, of course, the sort of thing that happens when you’ve got 1 month to complete 1.5 months worth of work. Sigh. I’m tired. As a result, I really didn’t have the mental energy to solve my chapter 3 problem AND put it into prose that is at least an approximation of ‘not suck’. All that said, I had a good run today, and while I wheeled around the small gym track some forty times, I managed to come up with something like a solution. There are a few sticky details to work out, but once I actually sit down and put myself into the main character’s shoes in the scene, I should be able to see exactly how he manages to squeeze out of it. It’ll be difficult, for him, but I think it should be. So, tomorrow, after I’ve thought about it for a while, I’ll sit down and make it happen. For now though, I think I’m going to check out a nip of single-malt, and get some sleep. Tomorrow is likely to be just as intense as today.

Where do you find the time?

This is actually a question I get asked about my other hobbies. I do woodworking, beer brewing and plus there’s the job, kids and trying to help keep the house from falling apart. Not to mention going to the gym in order to avoid a heart attack before the age 39. It’s a good question though. As I devote virtually every free moment to writing, I wonder. How is it that writers manage to finish not one, but multiple book while juggling work, home life and general living? I’ve only been at it hard for about the past year or so, before that I was a lot more casual about it. I’d go on jags for a few weeks where I’d think about and do nothing but work on my story, then I’d go weeks or months with little more than a cursory effort. Now as I enter the home stretch for having a full draft, recognizing there’s about as much work left as I’ve already put into it. I wonder – Is it really worth the exhaustive effort? This is a somewhat rhetorical question, I’m going to keep at it regardless of the outcome. I’m way to stubborn not to. It’s sort of like this: Let’s say I finish my story. Then there are at least 2 books behind that to finish out the project. Let’s further assume I manage to sell my work (this is a big assumption, I fully recognize this, but that is the goal.) I will still be working my full time job, managing children, ducks, other hobbies, and a constant battle with health (I’m not super unhealthy or anything – my usual work out is a 2-3 mile run. I just HAVE to do it almost daily or my blood pressure becomes dangerously high). So, what do other writers do? How do you manage the life-work-writing balance?