Holding myself accountable

For decades, sadly, I’ve said I’m going to write a book. I’ve got starts and spurts of things all over the place – pages of scenes, half-written things, one story I did complete…and realized it was too much of a happy cheesy tidy ending for me to put out into the world. 

All good exercises in writing.  But no finished products. 

Meanwhile, I’ve had all these kids.  I spent my 20’s being pregnant, giving birth, chasing toddlers.  I then spent my 30’s dealing with special needs, sitting at therapies, at IEP’s, at doctor’s offices – while sitting at soccer practices and dance rehearsals and all the other normal kid stuff.  I’ve spent the past year or so getting ready to move, moving, settling in, trying to find schools, entertaining kids who weren’t in any school, summer break…

Finally, for the first time in 15 and a half years – I had all four children in school and oodles of time to do what I wanted to do.

And yet – no finished product.

I’ve learned a lot through the years – what I like to write, what I want to write, how to keep pushing through and edit later, how it’s okay to not do things in chronological order.  I’ve lost my need for instant perfection. I can put down a thousand words a day on a good day, five hundred on a bad day.  Which doesn’t sound like much, but is actually pretty dang good.

And I know I can write.  It’s one of the few things I’ve always been secure about in myself. I don’t know if I can sing as well as I think I sound in the car.  I have cooking failures every so often.  I’m certain 50% of the time that I’m screwing up my kids.  But I know I’m a good writer.

So then, what’s been my problem?

I realized that I’ve made the one crucial mistake wannabe writers do – they don’t make writing their job.  I haven’t made it my job – it’s always been something I fit in where I could.  I don’t set aside a portion of my day for writing.  I don’t say “No, I can’t do that right now, I have to write.”

It’s time to make it my job.  I may have to actually leave the house some days and sit at the local coffee shop, because even with all the kids gone all day, I feel like when I’m at home, I should be doing something.  All that cleaning and decluttering and laundry and chasing after the puppy.  At this very moment, I feel like I should be organizing our bedroom, going through the clothes to get rid of some stuff, or at least taking the dog for a walk.  And the washer just stopped, so I should take care of that.

See?  Not giving the writing that priority status of Real Job.

So, my goal for this month is to make my writing a job.  Something I do every day, and something that is worthy of the time I dedicate to it.   I’m making game plans for the summer, when kids are home (aka, paying my teens to actually mind Maura) and looking into hiring a cleaning lady (I can actually hear my mother-in-law cheering over this one – she has said for years that I’m too busy and should have someone to clean for me so I don’t have to).  I may even – *gasp* – write myself up a schedule and try to stick to it. 

I am so not a schedule girl.  But maybe it’s time to try it out.  Before now, I always had kids schedules to run my life – nap times and pick up times and all – but now, I have my time.  I should make the most of it.  Because the one thing I do know is that once Maura gets home, 3 pm to 9 pm is kid time.  I still have to harass older kids about homework and chores.  I still have to get kids to their places.  I still have to feed them dinner every. single. night.  I will not compromise kid time unless absolutely necessary.  But I need to work on my time and how I arrange it.

It’s time to make writing my job.