Clare: The week has suddenly twisted up around me and I find myself trying desperately to get things done when virtually everything else is conspiring to prevent that happening! It’s my busy time at work and my hours in the office are stretching longer every day. At home, one of my sons has just lost his travel pass on the bus, and for reasons that’d take too long to explain and would bore you rigid, there’s a dismantled microwave on my living room floor. Online – though I’m really enjoying being here! - I’ve unwisely committed myself to more chat events in the next month than I can cope with. And I’ve just discovered I forgot to buy enough meat for family suppers this week yet I somehow managed (that’s online shopping for you!) to order eight underarm deodorants and a tin of sliced peaches I *didn’t* need.
Chrissy: I’m following along in a whirlwind all my own. June is always a difficult month with more than the usual outside the box events. We’ve had out-of-town company the last three weekends in a row with more expected Friday night. Of course, there are the dreaded *things that must be done* with said company – despite my barely hidden desire to wave hello and then run and hide in the basement with the computer. While I am happy in these current economic times to be employed, staff has been cut so bare at my workplace that in addition to the work of three people I’ve been doing for the last several years I’m now picking up the slack for the last two layoffs as well. I haven’t taken a lunch in ten years and that doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Online? Well, as you can all tell, I’m reduced to the minimum of posts simply because I’m only online for a half and hour or so each morning and that’s if I ignore my employer’s online policies. Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone! By the way, this is a great time to extend my thanks to Clare for the awesome job of posting she’s been doing this week.
Clare: *wipes brow*. So that’s us today.
Chrissy: You’ll notice that we’ve not even mentioned writing.
And so... THE STRUGGLE TO JUGGLE.
Clare: The most common thing people say to me when I tell them I’m a writer is not – what’s your pen name? What’s your genre? How on earth do you know all those intimate things about male/male relationships?, but…
When do you write?
Chrissy: I’ve asked you that myself. Hey, how do you know all those intimate things about male/male relationships?
Clare: That’s for me to know and you to… speculate *cough*.
Well, you get the picture.
Chrissy: And I get the emails. *blinks* What? Just saying. You did return that axe to the hardware store like we discussed, right?
Clare: Axe? You gotta ask yourself, do you feel lucky …?
But despite the compulsion to write, I have other things in life that are just as important. My family, my friends, my health, even my full-time job despite the fact I moan about it so frequently. I try to fit this gallon of a life into the pint-pot of time I’ve given (there’s an old-fashioned analogy for you!) and then try to cope with any strain.
Recently I received a link to a publication: Time Management: Finding and Organizing the Time to Write. And all I thought? I wish.
Chrissy: She then sent it to me. I thought it sounded brilliant. Someday, I hope to find time to sit down and read this article.
Clare: Me too *mwahaha*. Though I suspect I’ve been on the management training course, as it must rely heavily on basic time management strategies. I’ll be interested to know, however, how those processes deal with the random addition of microwave crises, bicycle punctures, excess toiletries, laptop go-slow and a Writing Muse who takes holiday on his own whim and doesn’t bother to keep in touch.
Chrissy: I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me to pace myself or it all comes down to setting priorities, or that I try to get too much done. The simple reality is that no matter how many times we try to pare things down to the bare essentials the list of things that MUST BE DONE is always greater than the 27 hours in a day we are given.
Clare: Uh, Chrissy – there’s only 24 hours in a day.
Chrissy: Well, hell. No wonder I’m always behind.
Clare: So Chrissy and I are going to ask each other some of those questions we’re often asked by others – and dammit, we ask ourselves! See what answers we come up with. Then we’ll throw the floor open and ask any of you to pitch to us – any questions you’d like to ask, any experience you’d like to share.
Chrissy: Whenever I can. That sounds like a bad joke, but seriously, I always carry something with me to write on if I’m not sleeping. Which is not as odd as it sounds - I have a bad habit of falling asleep anywhere, anytime, within three minutes of stopping movement. It’s an art form called exhaustion. I make time on the weekends to actually sit at a keyboard to transcribe and continue. When I have a piece on a deadline I always plan to squeeze time in every morning before work, but then my bosses usually come in early to get me going on a project and that’s the end of that.
Chrissy: It’s not so much the outer trappings of the world around me as it is what’s going on inside me. Some day’s my brain is simply flatlined.
What plops barriers in the path of your writing every time? Is it setting, environment, timing etc etc, you get the picture :).
Chrissy: Heh, my biggest barrier is *me*. Well, not to sound like a broken record, but my lack of time. I know people say you make time for what’s important. Trust me; I’ve stripped away any and all pretence of what isn’t a priority. Just ask those that know me. (Sorry, everyone).
Who *is* your Muse and are they on Twitter?
Chrissy: I’ve danced around the elusive Muse question for years and will *cough* continue to do so simply because I never spent the time to sit down and think about it (see subject of this post above). I will say that whatever form said Muse may take - definitely NOT on Twitter.
What’s the most useful tip you’d pass to an author in the same position?
Chrissy: Ignore everything else I’ve said, cut yourself some slack and have fun with it. There’s no perfect way to do anything (where’s the joy in that) and balancing life/work/writing and double chocolate cake is no exception.
Emotionally? Praise yourself for small achievements. 100 words a day average? Fabulous! Enjoy your words, use the best and the most enjoyable you can, make the writing a treat for the small snips of time, else you end up rewriting the same damned sentence every time you go in and look at it again.
Enjoy, ENJOY, or you won't WANT to keep writing.
Oh, and in my case (Hubby yelling from the other room) - turn off the f*g net.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d done better / earlier / differently?
Chrissy: I try to live without regrets. Things are what they are. I can only do my best to enjoy them.
What’s the one thing you’re really proud of that facilitates your writing?
Chrissy: I might say my curiosity about people and the world around me. Humans are quite interesting to observe.
How many works in progress do you have open on your screen at this very moment?
Chrissy: Even though I am at work I will confess to having three open in the word processor. I love flashdrives.
I stopped any IM-ing because I can’t write while I chat, and I’m sorry, but I want to write more than chat casually! And Twitter leaves me cold, even though people try to persuade me it can be used just for marketing and information and I don’t have to spend hours texting what I’m currently eating, how squee is Captain Jack (which he is, of course) and isn’t the weather hot for the time of year (yes, I’m British, obviously there's a specific genetic trait for chatting about the weather). But anyway, it’s a major Time Suck for me.
HOWEVER, this week I met the loveliest web designer ever who’s also a yogi, has a beautifully soothing voice, has a healthy disrespect equal to my own for the time wasted on social networking sites, but insists he can show me how to get a Twitter feed from mobile phone to website without me ever having to chat inanely. Entranced by his waist-length dreadlocks, I’m meeting him next week to talk it through. Oh, so easily seduced…
Anyone itching to say - no, no that's not how it is for me?