Monday, March 28, 2011

Tightropes and Acrobatics.

"People of the sidewalk! We can't give up on the written word! We need stories--because I don't have a Plan B!" - Liz Lemon, 30 Rock

When I was an undergrad, I had a few problems with time management. Or, as I like to think about it, I knew what my priorities were. Sleep was never a high one. Dorm living, while delightfully appealing to my social side, is probably not the most ideal situation for me. There were definitely nights where I'd hang out with my friends--building relationships, I like to call it--until they went to bed around, oh 1 AM, and then I'd go back to my room to work on my homework.

Before anyone judges me, I graduated with honors. I think I did ok.

Since becoming a REAL person, I find myself with an abundance of free time. Probably because I'm unmarried and childless. I'm not saying I do nothing. But after I come back from work... I have no obligations. I have plans, friends to see, activities, but... no homework.

It's probably the thing I like best about being a grownup.

But in the last couple months, my schedule has exploded. And without the painfully delightful confinement of syllabus deadlines, I have to make sure things get done on my own. And I do get the things I need to get done. It's the extra stuff, baking, finishing books, phone calls, etc. that I have a problem finishing. Or just doing.

When I get off work I'm exhausted, and I still have to make sure I'm juggling keeping in touch with friends and family back home, seeing friends here, church activities, doing dumb grown up stuff like my taxes, baking for birthdays and bridal showers, and--occasionally, when our conflicting work schedules allow it--going out with the Hockey Player.

Oh, and writing.

Back when I wasn't working, I eventually developed amazing discipline. I'd write 8 pages a day. I could FLY through a draft. Now I consider it a victory if I can write a full page of fiction or three screenplay pages. And sometimes it's stressful, like today, when I finally finished a page, and I realized that with my current pace, to finish the first draft of a novel it'll take me a year. At least. And whenever I think about screenwriting, my mind balks at the amount of craft I know that I don't know. I just keep plugging away, hoping that this time personal passion will help me get a lot of things right just

And it's not just making sure I have the time to write--it's what I'm writing. I currently have a screenplay and a couple fiction pieces I'm working on. I don't usually get to work on more than one piece a day. I have to split my writing time among them, as well as any research I need to do on the business side of things.

To be honest, it'd be a lot easier
not to write. Not only would I have hours of my life back to read, bake, or enjoy the slowly brightening weather out here in Michigan, but I could finally stop fighting the tiny voice of discouragement that I have to confront every time I sit down and open a story. I could stop trying to power a dream with my laptop extension cord. I could stop supporting a dubious hope with black tea and sugar cookies. I'd have less weight if I could stop carrying my laptop with me everywhere.

But I don't see that happening anytime soon. I may not have the most amazing discipline, but there is something definitely ingrained in me when it comes to writing. Maybe it's the conviction that comes when you don't have a Plan B.

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