It’s Memorial Day weekend here where I live.
For our family, that means packing up the family trailer, dusting off all the summer stuff, making sure we have sufficient amounts of junk food and stuff we don’t eat on a regular basis, and heading off to a local campground for the weekend. Close enough that the DH can still drive back to work, but far enough away from the every day that it kinda feels like a vacation.
For our family, THIS is the “kick-off” to summer, which means a different schedule, a different pace, days that are (in theory) full of discretionary time for whatever activity we fancy.
Summer should be a time when I “get a lot of writing done.” Notice most of the words in that phrase are fully loaded with whatever meaning and weight I attribute to them. What is “a lot”? What is “writing done”? What is “writing,” and what constitutes a level of accomplishment that makes me feel like I’ve used my time wisely for whatever creative endeavor I choose? *Sigh* Not so simple when I choose to over think the thing, just to avoid the actual act.
I’m sitting on the playground side of our little campground. There are there children playing nearby on the merry-go-round. They obviously have some type of prior relationship, because one little girl is both storyteller, self-proclaimed “captain,” and obviously thinks herself boss. Her shrill little voice seems to direct the other children, some older than she, as she attempts to control and direct the activity around her. Weirdly, the other kids follow her direction, even though there is no outside force pushing them to do so. They just follow.
I have a voice in my head like that little girl. She tends to tell me what to do and when to do it whenever external forces relent a bit and I believe I have found time to “write.” She wants to be captain, and she shrieks out directions for me … do this, don’t do this, what about this, why haven’t you this, you’ll never this … over and over and over again. Somehow, I have relented and given this “little girl” the power over me to keep me from standing up and doing that very thing which I so desire to do.
Where do I find the time to write?
I choose to take control of that voice. I remember that I have been given a certain amount of time. I can choose exactly what I do with that amount of time, however small it is.
I have kids. True, they are older now, but they still depend on me for a lot, and for that I am grateful. My time with them is so very short, and while it sounds cliché, the truth of the matter is those kids grow rapidly and before you know it, they are out making their way in this life. When they were younger, I had time to write whenever they went to bed, or were playing with their friends, or were at some extracurricular class. We have homeschooled their entire lives, which sets a different dynamic when it comes to “available time,” but it seems like I still found time to at least journal during that stage. Now, I must make a conscious effort to corral my run-away schedule and beat myself into submission if I want to get anything down on paper.
This year, in addition to our regular schedule, we have kids coming home for the summer from Oklahoma and China. There’s a graduation to implement (and along with that, a rocking open house!), and then a month later, my first daughter gets married (which, I am finding, is a lot different from your first son getting married, when it comes to details). Life flies at an incessant speed, and while I only work part-time, I do not have extended hours away in an office to work on projects. My writing takes a back seat to everyone else’s “stuff,” mostly because they (and to honest, me) don’t view it as a “real” pursuit. They’re encouraging, sure. But to be honest? The “tyranny of the urgent” almost always wins.(http://www.navfusion. com/assets/Tyranny%20of%20the%20Urgent%20[Hummel].pdf)
So, I find myself “finding time” whenever I can get it. Sometimes, it’s like this morning. I’m up an hour before everyone else, sitting in the sunshine enjoying a “free wi-fi” weekend at the campground. I’ll knock out this essay before we go to our pancake breakfast, pack everyone up for a day trip, pick up my elderly dad and head to Ohio to celebrate my great-nephew’s graduation.
Sometimes, I force myself to sit down at my computer and write nonsense until something with some substance comes to the surface.
Sometimes, for weeks on end, I’m lucky to produce a simple journal entry.
Other times, like nanowrimo, or when one of my amazing creative friends has a project for me to consult on or edit (which is a weird thing … when I “have” to edit, it seems to spark me to write more … I know, it’s paradoxical, but true), I literally tell the family I will be writing for “this amount of time” and I closet myself away until the project is done.
And if I were totally truthful, I go for long periods NOT writing at all. Once, it was for nearly two years. Life just got the best of me, the little girl voice pushed me here and there, and I gave up. It was easier to let her boss me around than to take control of my life. A lot of people fall there, you know. But at the end of the day, we truly are a lot more in control of our situation and circumstance than we want to take responsibility for. Just saying …
So if you want to write, you have to write. Carry an “old school” notebook and pen. Always travel with your laptop. Carry one of those little spiral notebooks in your purse or pocket or car, just to jot things down. You might hear the little girl say it’s a waste of time, and you’re not REALLY writing … tell her to shut up.
And chose to find the time. I believe most of us have good stories to tell. It often seems to me good storytelling is becoming a lost art. Sitting around the campfire last night, I laughed and listened to some good stories (most of which I would not be allowed to share here), and relished the community and friendship I found.I find time for that, because it’s important.
That’s what writing is often for me, too. Bringing along a few of my friends, sitting at the campfire of the blogging world, and sharing stories, ideas, and life.
And I find for it, because despite what the little girl might say, it’s important, too.