First Draft Father: No Time for This?

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When we used to live in Connecticut, I’d often remind myself that I was living in a golden age of time surplus—the time before children. Never mind that I was trying to figure out a way to make freelance writing sustainable and needed a stressful year to sort it out. I was wealthy in time…

I woke up early to write at my own leisure.

I worked at cafes for three, sometimes four hours without a care in the world—save for finding a table close enough to an outlet for my aged computer.

I kept the house clean, took a swim at the community center some afternoons, dropped by our community garden patch for a little weeding and harvesting, and knocked out smaller projects in the afternoon.

All of that time… just think about it all… tick, tock. Tick, tock.

So much time to work. I’m still benefiting from all that I accomplished during those two years. There are three or four projects I shaped during those two years that are finally gaining traction now.

I even dabbled in fiction writing and joined a writing group. My, how I used my time… before Ethan arrived.

Those days in Connecticut were like a long marathon. I chipped away at huge chunks of projects each morning—pushing myself to meet word count goals, editing  when I was done writing, and trying to figure out how to use social media just a little bit better.

With Ethan writhing in my arms, snoring in his swing, or wiggling on the floor, time feels very different now.

I’m still trying to figure it out, and I suspect I’ll keep tweaking and shifting how I use my time. The one word that comes to mind with my time these days is this: SPRINT.

I need to tackle projects NOW before they pile up and kill me. And even if I’m on the ball, naps that end before their time have a way of completely derailing the book projects that I need to keep writing and book proposals that require serious concentration.

I’ll be forever tweaking my calendar, testing ways to use Freedom to keep my mind focused, and experimenting with printing out book chapters for editing on the go. I’ll probably multi-task a little if Ethan’s happy enough on the floor with his baby gym and singing inch worm.

When people say that time flies with kids, I think they mean that the days fly by because every moment without a kid in your arms is a little more rushed and frantic.

I need to get the dishes done before he wakes up…

I need to send this email before he starts fussing…

I need to write down this idea before I shove this bottle into his unwilling lips…

It’s like my life has become its own version of Go Dogs Go without the parts where the dogs stop or the party in the tree (which is such a weird concept by the way… Why would dogs have a party in a tree?).

We run, rush, and write. No two days feel quite the same. Time slips by. It feels like I never have quite enough.

And yet, I don’t miss those days of the time surplus. I was unfocused, wasteful, and took on more than I could do well. I’m happier with my little guy squeaking and giggling. I’m blessed to have a little family that I can stay home with and enjoy, even with the chaos of short naps or wakeful evenings that creeps in sometimes.

There are some days when I even feel that blessing, rather than simply knowing it. But those are usually the days when Ethan takes a nice… long… nap.

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4 thoughts on “First Draft Father: No Time for This?

  1. Kirsten LaBlanc

    Just wait! Once you get the timing down and things seem doable, something will change. Ethan will learn something new and then you’ll hve to start figuring it out all over again. :)

  2. Christie

    Oh, how I can relate to this. These days, when Elsa falls asleep, it’s like I’m off and running – which is very unhealthy for me (God gave me asthma for a reason – to keep me moving at a nice, leisurely pace). I don’t want to live a Go Dog Go life, but it’s requiring near constant prayer (of the “help me, Jesus” sort) to slow down, to let go, to rest even in the midst of work. Feeling rushed and hyper aware of time slipping through the hourglass is such a creativity killer. But, like you, I wouldn’t trade these days away for anything.

  3. Herm

    The disciplines your love of and commitment to Ethan teaches you will strengthen and serve you forever. Intimate time with him is fleeting. Savoring the moment is most important because your abundant talents as a writer aren’t nearly as valuable as the experiences which you get to write about from real relationships, especially the more torturous ones you will survive in meeting Ethan’s needs today.

  4. Michelle DeRusha

    It does get easier. A little. My boys are both in school now. But I clearly recall the period you are in now. I wrote a whole book in that period…bit by bit, in dribs and drabs. Not ideal, but it got done. Feeling pressed for time can kill your creativity, but I’d say it will also, in the end, make you a better, more productive, more efficient writer.

    {hope the bottle feeding is going better…I saw your facebook post…I totally remember those moments – hang in there!!}

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