To Live or To Write? Decisions, Decisions!

I’ve hardly set pen to paper for ten days. It’s a weird feeling. For over five years, I’ve been writing regularly (not daily—I can’t claim that.) Just now, though, I’ve got a five-week trip to pack for, two home improvement projects under way, an elderly friend who’s ill and considering assisted living, and a sick cat. And poison ivy.

So much for the endless stream of whining complaint. Thank you for listening.

I have to find out how real (sc. published) writers get it all done. I know they have lives. At conferences, I’ve distinctly heard them mention spouses and children. Unlike me, they have to make the rounds of book fairs and do public appearances. They must eat: quite a number of them are plump.

I warn you, the first person to suggest ‘discipline’ as the solution, dies. The house, the spouse, the garden, the shopping, the cooking… getting all those seen to, over and over, feels like boot camp forever.

A schedule? I have one. My brain only writes in the morning. In the afternoon, it stares out from behind my eyes and refuses any but simple, repetitive tasks. So I should carve out several undisturbed morning hours. But the 86-pound black Lab, Nussi, needs at least two, spaced half-hour hikes up and down Cottonstone Mountain, where we live, to keep from ballooning to 100 pounds. I confess to having the same problem myself, marked up by a certain percentage. Did I mention plumpness? The spouse, when at home, requires computer assistance at startlingly irregular intervals. The man to fix the dishwasher will be here at 10. Or so.

It’s more complicated than that, really. Here’s an example. Somehow, back in the mists of time, a custom arose that the spouse has a medium-boiled egg for a mid-morning snack. The spouse literally cannot boil an egg. The writer boils it. And empties the dishwasher while the water heats. And flips the wash while waiting for the dirty dish.

I can hear Gloria Steinem screaming. Tough beans, Gloria. That isn’t just a boiled egg. That’s communion, read the word how you will. That’s ritual. That’s a very happy marriage. Sure, I could say, “Go make yourself some toast.” But would that be a good trade?

Here’s a thought: that five-week trip is about to take me to a little town in the Rockies, Redstone, Colorado, population 92. where we have very few friends. There is no garden. There is a Whole Foods – some distance away, granted – that sells pre-made food. We have a microwave. I need to go on a diet anyway. The spouse, bereft of his New Hampshire wood lot, will need exercise. Dog walking is very healthy.

So, maybe that’s a research project for July. Try out ways to free up time. Decide what is worth less than writing and can be lived without. Practice ways of condensing the simple, repetitive tasks.

So, whaddaya think? Will that work? Even if it doesn’t, I’m going to get some writing done.

About Heidi Wilson

I'm currently writing a mystery that takes place in New Hampshire and a novel about an artist who's working in Ireland and Hell. Former incarnations: stock market economist and professor of Greek. Go figure.

Posted on June 29, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I envy you your isolation in CO. On our recent trip to Alaska, I considered putting a deposit down on a cabin in the woods for the winter where I would have nothing to do but write….unfortunately, the spouse would have to agree to this arrangement as he would be the one to shovel, bring in the wood, stoke the wood fire–did I mention shovel? If only he could live without golf and sunshine just for one winter I could finish every writing project I’ve ever started. OK–you can stop laughing anytime now.


  2. The obvious answer to eating well in Colorado is to make more friends with whom you can share beer and barbecues. That alone will give you lots of ideas for storylines.


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