In February, I binned the full-time office contract- great for funds, appalling for my just-4 year-old. My extraordinarily understanding client got out her net, dragged me from the slough of despond and offered me fewer hours. The results are incredible: Mondays are sacred son & mum days; Thursdays are holy office days and the other 3 are half-days at home or with the team. The Wee Kirk is transformed; household harmony restored.
I also changed the childcare set-up with a great pre-school which finishes at 3:30. Yup. Uhuh. Three-thirty (rather than, say, 5:30 or 6pm that a nursery offers).
In a previous life, my step-children and I surfed the wave of primary school and I well remember the “eek! It’s 2:30!” winding-down-the-writing alarm. Gorgeously, I had bought my writing time, paid for it in advance and writing was my job.
So now, it’s a new regime and I need to find that writing time space (as 1:45-3:15pm 3 days a week ain’t gonna cut it). I’ve never been an early bird (tho’ Trollope’s several hours before the day job is very inspiring) and I dislike working at night. My weekends are precious.
It’s time to choose, consciously. So where’s the low-hanging fruit, where’s the give? Not work (funds, company, brain exercise and challenge); not offspring (duh); not friends and lurve (ditto). These all “feed my Maslow” [here‘s some spiel from AN Other on that]. So what are the clock-eaters?
But there’s another way: accept and live this life as it is. It, too, will change into something else, just as my several years’ pre-paid dedicated writing time morphed into this. Writers are useless without life experience. We slam politicians who haven’t lived – so why do writers tell others to write, write, write? (You writers out there know of what I speak!).
Before I go, let’s nip back to Bunyon’s slough of despond [italics, mine}:
“This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.”
Here’s a thought: believing you’re lax, remiss, a bad/undisciplined/lazy writer is the problem. You are what you are. You do what you do. You cannot live several lives (worker, campaigner, parent, lover) and be a full-time writer. There are not enough hours. So, choose – time’s winged chariot, regret, self-castigation, change or acceptance? But choose, whatever you do, choose.