Posted in Creativity, Time, Writing

I Need More Time and Space: Part-Time Sunshine’s Summertime Dilemma

cropped-img_7181.jpg

I’m a high school English teacher and love summer break as much as my students do. Summer is for fun. Summer is the time to relax and recharge. Summer is socializing, exercising, and napping. Summer is the time to read more books. Summer is the time to write a book.

Scratch that last one. I need to be realistic. I always mislead myself into thinking I can write the first draft of a book during summer. I have false high hopes of getting large chunks of writing done during my favorite season, but I struggle to make the time and find the right space.  

During the school year, I relish the hour of quiet time at my desk each day before classes start. Morning is when my head is fresh and I’m most energetic to write new material. When time permits, I stay after school to write a little more.

clock

You’d think that when school’s out, I’d have all these extra hours to write whenever I want, but it doesn’t work that way.  My non-teaching husband works all year, so I’m a stay-at-home summer mom to our two non-driving, active teens, their friends, a dog, and a puppy. The freedom, fun, and firecrackers of the season make it hard for me to stick to schedules, especially one for writing.

Beyond my domestic routine of 70,000 tasks, add swimming pool care, weeding, puppy training, deck painting, and picnic hosting. It’s too hard to ignore the above and prove to anyone (even myself) that I should be writing instead. The household stuff needs to be done, so the writing has to wait.

write

Although my daughters are old enough to take care of themselves, they still need me for many things, mostly food and rides. Summer is especially busy for squeezing in their various appointments. Chutes and Ladders!  I just realized I forgot to take Cara to physical therapy for her finger two hours ago!  UGH!  Where can I get a secretary, cleaning lady, dog whisperer, and chauffeur, all wrapped up in one person?  Oh yeah, I’m her…  I need another ME, just a more organized version.

The other writing challenge is that I lack a quiet workspace. I wish I could write without interruption at home, but it doesn’t happen.  I can’t expect my girls to take a vow of silence, but it’s like they talk through megaphones. Factor in their heavy footsteps, awful teenage music, singing, fighting, and contagious giggles and you’d think I had ten kids instead of two.  Their laughter is beautiful, but not when I’m trying to concentrate. Headphones help to a degree, but I still hear the kids and dogs.  I feel their movement.  I smell their breath. I sense their presence all around me.  

I had to hide in our basement to edit this piece, but Cara found me anyhow and disturbed my muse’s groove. She just wanted to say hello and check in on me.  We chatted a bit, then I suggested she go have a fresh asiago bagel with the soft pats of butter she took from the restaurant the night before. She thanked me for going to the bakery but asked If I was trying to get rid of her, and I said, “Absolutely. I’m sorry, but please don’t come back unless you or your bagel catch fire.”  I know. I know. I’m lucky my fifteen-year-old even acknowledges me, but sometimes I gotta get away and will use butter bagel bribes to make it happen.  FYI, she came back thrice since breakfast. She was NOT on fire.  

fire

Louie, our barking sheltie, accompanied Cara to the basement. I told her to take him back up with her, but she said he needed alone time, away from our puppy, Frankie. She had a point, so I let Louie stay.

image

He was fine until he went bonkers over hearing a garbageman, neighbor, and UPS truck. Then he became a loud broken record, “Arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf, arf!” Geez, that was annoying to type, let alone listen to.   

Frankie, my 5:19 AM furry alarm clock, beckons to be freed from her crate when she hears the neighbor leaving for his early job. The piercing octaves Frankie woofs out hurt my teeth. For some reason, no one else hears her but me though. image2.jpg

Each morning (weekends included), I get up to let the dogs out, feed them, let them play, go out again, and bring them in when they bark at a butterfly, chipmunk, or moving cloud.  After all that, it’s time for me to choose to:

  1. Write.
  2. Work out.
  3. Clean the house.
  4. Go back to bed.  

Although choice “A” would be the responsible, author-esque selection, it just never works out for me. I have to do some activity before I can fire away at the keyboard.  keyboardIt would be best to exercise, shower, eat, then write, but the non-schedule of summer makes it too easy to go back to bed. 

Why don’t I just take the pressure off myself and give up this writing gig?  I don’t do it for fame or fortune.  Why do I bother? I guess I write because I need to.  If I don’t release the words, I’ll get stuffed, like when overeating at Thanksgiving.

turkey

When I don’t write, I feel like I’m trying to hold back a sneeze during allergy season. I can’t stifle these stories, however silly or insignificant they might seem. I have to carve out more time and find a place outside of home to write or I’ll burst.Placeholder Image

What’s your creative talent?  How do you make time and space to let it flow? Or do you get stuffed?

Posted in Creativity, Seize the Day!, Time, Writing

A Judging Squirrel Picture is Worth a Half-Thousand Words.

squagI have totally been misusing after-work hours today (and most others) neglecting my art, adult coloring books.  Ha!  I wish that was really the problem because I can’t get enough of those, and I have new gel pens and a bad words book.  It’s really funny to see flowing cursive curses surrounded by paisley patterns and glittery colors.

squirrel-zentangle-stylized-vector-illustration-pattern-free-freehand-pencil-hand-drawn-print-coloring-books-68428212

Nuts and Bolts!  Can you imagine this guy with a swearing thought bubble!  It makes me laugh.  I’m so immature sometimes.

But my true neglected art is writing.  I promise to post a new blog!  I think I can.  I know I can. Squirrel!

Oh, how I procrastinate to create!  I interrupt my free time with online shopping, puzzle building, exercise, coloring, games of Skip Bo, social networking, and so on. All of this keeps me away from my stories though.

Why do I often hide from the keyboard?  I am not a squirrel but am a mole, tunneling underground with only a few finished projects and a messy yard.  I don’t play Whac-A-Mole and instead breed more reasons to keep from my writing.

Why do this?  I truly love words and making them sing on the page. I love writing and have so much to say.  I’m not secretive.  I’m not lazy.  But I think, therefore I am the intrusion to my own creative muse.  Thoughts come and go, and so do opportunities to write with a genuine commitment.  I let them soar away like a flying squirrel.

Squirrel!  I just want to go nutty on this little gavel pounding varmint.  Who is this fuzzy judge in the picture urging me to compose something new, refreshing, and interesting?   The pressure is on to create, yet I just want to go Bill Murray-Caddy Shack-Crazy and crush him.  I will steal his food. I will plug up his hole in the tree and…

And actually I will hug him.  Yes, yes I will.  I will call him George and I will love him and pet him and squeeze him. I will pet his feather duster tail and hand feed him buttery Ritz Crackers.  I will shake his little paw in thanks for getting me off the hide-and-seek writing hook. I do not want the squirrel of judgment looking down on me.

I really must balance on my alphabet beam or I’m going to lose some letters. Oh dear!  What would happen if I even lost one of the twenty-six alphabet characters.  I once went a whole day without the letter “L” on my keyboard where I teach.   It was very hard to be Mrs. _ucas.  What the “L”?  I needed that middle of the alphabet player, so I’m not willing to lose a single one, not even Q (I get it.  He needs U to make sense, but they’re quite a beautiful couple if you query me.)

Seriously, no more distractions.

Squirrel!  I have stories to tell, and this year I’m getting it done!!!