K is for…Kids

“You know how happy you feel when you’re playing legos?” I asked my son the other day as he was begging me to put down my computer and help him build yet another lego ship with him.

“Yeah?” he answered, clearly not sure where this was going.

“Well, that’s how Mommy feels when she’s writing,” I replied. It bought me a few extra minutes, which was a first. Hey, I’ll take what I can get.

Today’s post is about how my kids support my writing. Granted, it seems oxymoronic. At 4 and 6, my kids take up most of my time outside of work. And I’m happy to give it. I worship, love and adore those two little boys with a fierceness that continues to amaze and surprise me. But let’s be honest – little kids and big blocks of uninterrupted writing time do not mix.

While juggling kids and their schedules and their legos impact the amount of time I have to write, my children have expanded my writing in ways I never dreamed possible.

They force me to be intentional about my writing time. Time is a limited commodity (for all of us, really, but it especially feels that way now), so I’m intentional not only about what I do during each writing session, but also about my broader goals for my writing career.

They remind me that there’s a benefit to limited writing time. I can’t just sit and write for 8 hours a day, even if I had the time. I’ve learned that I can do about 1 – 2 hours max of generating new material and maybe 3 – 4 hours tops if I’m editing. Beyond that, my brain goes kaput.

Finally, my kids inspire me in so many countless ways. It shows up on the page all the time. They’ve inspired plots, characters and place names. I write about adoption, identity, race, diversity, loss, hope, life and death in ways that I would never have written if I didn’t know them. Because of them, my life and writing are enriched in ways I never thought possible.

G is for…Goals

In addition to being a writer, my dream jobs are backup singer for Bruce Springsteen and/or professional hermit. More on Bruce in a later post – this challenge wouldn’t be complete without an ode to my second husband. (See what I did there?)

I would be a superb hermit. I am an introvert’s introvert. I value long periods of time by myself, pondering the movements and currents of my life. I need the perspective that only comes from stepping back from daily life and examining the causes and conditions that are arising. After I decide if or how I want to vary the course, I make to do lists and intentions and once or twice I’ve written manifestos.

(I’d be an even better full time hermit with Netflix but I’m suspecting some of the nuances of the job would be lost.)

I realized, however, after I talked with my therapist last year, that I’m somewhat passive when it comes to setting goals and making plans. I tend to react to whatever’s arising rather than proactively set goals. I’m not a wallflower – I do make decisions and plans, but I’m not as intentional as I could be about where I want to be and how I want to get there.

So my therapist had me set goals and outline the practices I’d use to reach them. Then she suggested I review my goals and practices once a month and chart the progress I make. So…at the end of every month, I carve out some time and make a pot of tea and review my goals. It’s awesome. Even when I freak out and worry that I’ll never achieve my goals, I have a folder of notes that says at least I’m trying.

I blogged about my goals and practices at the start of the year as New Years Unresolutions.  I’ve modified the goals and practices slightly (I’m all about revisions), so here’s the current list:

Goal: To realize my full potential as a creative writer.


  • Taking time to reflect on my life and writing (aka the hermit part)
  • Being intentional about how I spend my time & take care of myself
  • Exploring ways to take risk in my life and writing
  • Living with simplicity by not taking on extraneous projects, attitudes or worries
  • Preserving my autonomy in terms of how I spend my time and the projects I undertake

Are you intentional about your goals? What goals and practices do you prioritize?


Stealing Time, Stolen Time

IMAG0513So this pipe used to be in my wall.  Last week the plumber had to cut a hole in my kitchen to remove said pipe after it froze and then burst.  It was kind of a funny day, actually.  I’d been to the gym and had time for a leisurely breakfast before heading to work.  Then I discovered that the pipes had frozen.  As I was running around, cursing and setting up space heaters, the school nurse called.  My son had the flu.

So there went the day and the week.  All of my intentions for writing and work went out the window.  But it was all good.  My son was better after spending two days collapsed on the couch.  We snuggled.  I caught up on all 600 seasons of SpongeBob.  I wore jammies for three days straight.  Also, Ed the AMAZING PLUMBER fixed the pipe, delaying his own vacation to help us. (Thank you, Ed!!)

I also thought about time, as well as the degree to which I wrote about time in my New Year’s Unresolutions post.  I’m greedy about time.  I always want more (to sit in front of the fireplace, drink tea and write) and there’s never enough of it.  Even today, when I’ve been able to write for a few hours, I’m still up against the clock and realizing I didn’t finish everything I wanted to finish before family obligations demand my attention.

To combat the feeling of not having enough time, I go into hyperdrive, trying to be as efficient as possible on every last item in my to do list.  I still never finish the list, but I at least have that heady feeling of control – do what you want, world, I will tackle it!!

At least until I wake up with a sinus headache and absolutely zero motivation.  This happens from time to time.  Like this morning.  I won’t finish everything on my list.  I’ll be behind.  Enter the sinking feelings of disappointment and irritation. And once again, I ask myself the same question I did when I wrote about my unresolutions: does it help anyone if I feel bad about myself?  (The congregation replies with a resounding NO.)

And I remind myself of my intentions, especially the ones of reflection and risk, and the little wisdom I have gained about writing.  Creative work comes from a place beyond scheduled time. I can’t sit down and say, “I have 15 minutes, let’s write this story.”  If anything, that unnecessary pressure chokes my creativity.  But, creative work still needs time in order to unfold.

What to do?

A writer friend of mine, a person I deeply admire, said that you have to steal time from everywhere in order to write – steal from your work, from your family, from yourself.  It’s not easy. I watch my kids grow and I feel guilt over not spending every moment with them.  (Although let’s be honest, I’d feel that way no matter what – hmm, let’s explore this more in another post, shall we?)  I weigh all possible “extra” work commitments in terms of the degree they will impinge on my writing time.  And I have no idea when I’m going to catch up with Sleepy Hollow.  But I’m also taking a risk, one that I have’t done well in the past:  recognize that my writing is important enough to be a major player in how I spend my time.

At this point in my life, I feel like I’m entering a strange little dance with time.  We do a spin around the ballroom.  I take some time here, I give some there.  Circumstances arise that change my plans, sometimes stealing all of my time and other times giving me some unexpected wiggle room in my schedule.  I channel my mania over finishing the to do list into making sure the to do list doesn’t get to be so long in the first place.  There will always be time thieves, often ones I’ve created myself.  But I’m also developing a lovely little network of my own thieves to steal some of it back.

Do any of you have crazy issues with time, too?  How do you cope?