My big change to my writing/working routine that I made this year was actually taking weekends – which is to say, not heaping up lists of things I needed to get done on the weekend only to discover on Sunday night that I had failed to do so.
The current edits of Book Two are kicking my arse well and truly – I’m getting the work done, but it’s gone painfully slowly for the first nearly two weeks, and I only have 9 days now before they’re due. You know that thing where people keep asking me how on earth I write with a 5 year old and a baby and I wave my hand airily and say things like ‘oh, I just snatch moments where I can, somehow it all works out?’
Screw that! Obviously I have completely lost whatever knack I used to have for finding time. It doesn’t help that the baby has just moved into the developmental stage which means she needs a person interacting with her pretty much all the time she is awake. I could work in the evenings if I wasn’t already falling asleep by the time Masterchef ends (which coincidentally is about the time I find myself child-free for most of the rest of the evening, except when I don’t). Sometimes Jem will take up to 4 times being put down, screaming, got up again, etc. before she settles down for her night’s sleep, and by the end of it, I’m shattered.
The first week was mostly warming up, and getting to grips with what I had to do. The second was about pushing into a routine and writing new chapters. Now I’m stuck with having to edit 5 chapters a day minimum, no breaks, to get this done. And that means working weekends. No skipping days.
Sometimes it takes me 2 uninterrupted hours to get 5 chapters edited. Sometimes it’s closer to 4. Even that is a mythical number because in my life, there are no uninterrupted hours.
Add to that the general expectation by my children that weekends are times for fun, family, reading, playing, and Mummy not being cranky at them when they ask for things, and the weekend was very, very hard work. It also means I’ve had almost no time to myself – normally the hours snatched from my children on weekends are used to relax and regroup so I can face the week ahead without turning into a gorgon-like creature who tells her 10 month old to make her own damn toast.
I did manage, in the earliest and latest hours of the weekend, to finish my book, the awesome The Privilege of the Sword, which I shall discuss more when I get a chance to do some recreational blogging, and I also finished the Guild comics as iApps which I loved. And there was a bit of socialising, including me getting to cook my own osso bucco recipe which I am very proud of. But, yeah. I am basically going to have to burn myself to a crisp this week. I am kind of shocked that when Raeli claimed sniffles and the need of a sick day today, I didn’t burst into tears.
But yes, I really hope that next time someone asks how on earth I do it, I actually do have the presence of mind to say ‘well it’s really hard’ as opposed to ‘oh, I manage.’ I love this work and I feel enormously privileged to be in this position, but it doesn’t help anyone – least of all me – to pretend that it’s easy to balance writing with motherhood. Writing requires bursts of steady work and bursts of super high energy Get Shit Done work, and I really do forget far too often that the steady work I do is actually at the top, not the middle, of my current work capacity.
My only comfort is that I am a better writer and editor than I was back when I was a childless twenty-something! And, you know, my family is very forgiving…