The first time I read Lynda’s charming Monday post about how the writing life is like kindergarten, I sat back in my chair as a warm rosy glow washed over me. Awwwww.
Then I scowled at the keyboard as a sharp, stabbity envy replaced it.
I want a kindergarten writing life. I want Dick and Jane. I want to get messy and plant seeds. I want paper crowns.
But my writing life is nothing like kindergarten. It’s painfully and by necessity shaped, bonsai-like, by clocks and schedules and compromise.
Like a lot of writers, I have a day job, and like a lot of writers, my day job is the only thing keeping the lights on. Every minute of every day has to be carefully rationed and parceled out to someone or something that needs sixty seconds of my attention. More often than not, these are not the people and things that live solely in my imagination. There is certainly a lot to learn from kindergarten, but the one thing I covet more than anything is its pacing.
Writing time? Happens every morning from 5:30 to 6:30 am. My brief flirtations with getting up earlier than five resulted in a dead-eyed stare at the monitor, and 6:30 is the start of other people’s days here at Chez J. There’s a kid to jump-start and get out the door, then the Day Job, then all the household stuff that piles up in the meantime. Everything else happens between the cracks, and any time for the extras in my writing life – conferences, social media, research, basic hygiene – is shaved away at the expense of something or someone else.
When I was an aspiring writer, this regimen was an act of faith. Or insanity. Or maybe both. I wrote four books over ten years before I sold The Wicked and the Just. The alarm went off at five every morning. Rejection letters came two and three a day. I made words into pages and pages into chapters without any promises at all that it would gain me anything.
But maybe this is taken straight from the kindergarten writing life. Pursuing something important with pure, fearless, singleminded effort. No hesitation. No self-consciousness. Any self-doubt is overshadowed by a conviction that borders on hubris: I will get there. I will chase it until I catch it.