Insert own cuddly-but-deadly monster here.)
If you have small children, you do all of these things covered in other people’s poo/snot/oatmeal, with nary a moment of mental silence to complete a sentence out loud, let alone in your head. Unless that sentence is, “Please, for the love of all that is holy, move your little a#$.” I seem to complete that one a lot. In my head. Please don’t call CPS.
I was at a writer’s seminar and heard the speaker say that “to be a successful writer, you must write every day.” At this moment in time, my youngest was four months old and I was getting so little sleep I had fainting spells. After the talk, I lamented with my fellow writers, knowing that even with some child care, there was no way on this not as green earth as it used to be that I could write every day.
“Even emails count,” said a trying-to-be-helpful woman. “Use every chance you can to write well.”
Ok, that’s doable. Maybe five out of ten emails I could take more than a nano-second to compose and send. I was feeling a bit better. Then, up strolled a late-middle-aged, tweed be-decked man.
He: “Saying you can’t find time to write every day just means you don’t really want to be a writer.”
Me: “Well, I take care of my four-month old, a three-year old, and I have two other jobs, so it’s not so much commitment but time in the day.” Polite laughter.
He: Patronizing chuckle. “I wake up at five every morning and write for three hours. That’s the commitment I make.”
Me: “Yeah, I’m up at 5am every morning too. Breastfeeding.”
But Tweeded Man has a point: writing every day does help one’s craft. Exercising every day does help one’s bottom, sleeping eight hours a night does help one get off Zoloft. Your own bees do make better honey. But right now, in the midst of little-little kids, work, writing a novel, and not enough disposable income to employ both Mr. Carson and Mary Poppins, I’m in chaos mode. (Case in point, my four-year old has interrupted me six times in the last fifteen minutes. So much for her “quiet play time.”)
I don’t see this as failure.
When I do get time to write, I throw all of myself in to it. I work. Hard. But just because it’s not every day, nor will it amount to 10,000 hours any time soon, I don’t see this as giving up. This is not lack of taking my commitments seriously. This is endurance.