I’ve never been the kind of writer who can sit down for a half hour every morning, rain or shine, seven days a week, and crank out my writing regardless of what else is going on in my life. I know there are many writers who swear you have to write every single day to be considered a serious writer. And for a long time, I was discouraged as a beginning writer because I kept hearing that.
But I marched/wrote to a different drummer, and learned that it didn’t matter HOW you got your writing done, just THAT you got it done. And so I developed my Immersive Technique for writing, where I clear the decks of other distractions and totally immerse myself as much as possible in the project at hand. That approach has worked in the past, and has led to me, as a full-time college professor, in doing a lot of my writing during the Christmas and Spring breaks and the summer months.
That’s all well and good, but as I became more successful, other people’s and my own expectations grew. I started trying to write during the school year and actually managed it…somehow. Once I established that precedent, I no longer told myself I could only write during summer months.
So it is that I find myself, at the end of my Christmas break, halfway through my latest book project, still trying to get it finished, while enduring the stresses of getting my classes ready for instruction that begins a week from Tuesday. I’ve done these classes many times, and there’s a lot of repetition involved, but I like my T’s crossed and my I’s dotted. In other words, I hate leaving things unresolved.
In addition, this break is special because my wife went through total knee replacement surgery on December 23. I told her (and meant it) that she was my number one priority. And despite her desire to be independent, she has relied on me quite heavily for preparing meals, washing dishes, sweeping up, cleaning up, driving her, helping her shower, helping her exercise, taking her to the bathroom… well, you get the idea. It’s getting better, though. The physical therapist just left and said that she is his star pupil and is well ahead of the curve as far as recovery. Our plan is to get the other knee operated on in March or April, so a lot of this will happen again then with the only difference that I will be deep into the semester. We still don’t know how we will manage, but we will have gone through it once already, so we’ll have that going for us.
So here I am, helping my wife, stressing about classes and dreaming about my book. The one consolation is that these types of situations are ideal–I have found–for creative thinking. I get my greatest ideas for my book when I really can’t write. Go figure.
I’m not worried about the book. There’s no contract and no schedule. And I have managed to get most of my prep for classes done in between work with my darling wife. So it’s going to happen. It’s just not ideal.
But then, when is a writer’s life ever ideal?