But change is here; change that means my daytime hours can now be used for work that isn’t related to domesticity. I will no longer be forced to squeeze my writing into the 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. time period. I will be able to accept assignments that were not possible before and delve more deeply into my work as a writer.
This is all good. It’s as it should be. It’s time. And it helps that my youngest child in particular has been counting down to this day all summer long. The change seems to be good for everyone in our family.
But as more people around me realize my kids will all be in school during the days, they’ve begun extending invitations, making suggestions as to how I might fill up the space that will now be available. Honestly, I don’t fault them. The suggestions have all been well-intending. But I’ve had to learn to convey to them, as graciously as possible, that the space they have in mind is already accounted for.
In other words, I’m learning to say “No” even though not everyone will understand. Some will try, of course. Others might secretly wonder just how many bon-bons and soap operas I’ll be consuming in my free time. But as a writer, and one who is choosing to embrace the writing life to the full, the “new” time before me is sacred time that I will be working hard over the next year to protect.
I view this “new” time as time that will allow me to help keep my family fed and clothed in a different way, time that will be spent filing and learning how to run a business from home, time that will, on occasion, allow me a chance to work on creative projects that have been calling to me. This year will be all about trying to make the very best use of the hours that my children are in school for the benefit of all of us.
In Heather Sellers’ book, Page after Page, she dedicates a chapter to honoring writing time. She calls it, “How to Be Unpopular and Why.” She uses her friend Betsy as an example, noting how, in order to be a productive writer, “Betsy has had to remove herself from the contest called Most Popular Girl in Town.”
According to Sellers, Betsy says no, a lot. “Like training for a marathon, Betsy wisely conserves her energy.”
I can relate to Betsy right now. That’s not to say I will refuse to volunteer at school, exercise or attend meetings of my local communicator’s group. It doesn’t mean I will abandon my faith community or quit hosting radio a couple times a month or stop having lunch with friends. I will continue to do all the things that keep me healthy, but I will pace myself and assess my priorities anew.
My life is full, and as I look ahead, I see no empty spaces waiting to be filled. Even though it might seem otherwise from the outside, my schedule is already marked up. And in order to be a productive writer, I will continue to guard my time, to conserve energy, so that I can make the most of this life I’ve been given.
Q4U: When have you had to say “No” in order to protect your writing time?