Tuesday, July 5, 2016


As a writer, I enjoy the luxury of working from home and managing my time myself.

As a writer, I find it is sometimes kind of heavy, working from home and managing my time myself.

It is especially difficult when the demands of home - my day job is full-time mom - require all my energy and expand to fill every waking minute.

If I sequester time for writing despite the things that scream for attention in the chaos around me (there is always something that needs attention), an attitude of she's-slacking-on-the-job pollutes the air. Sort of like the faint odor of roadkill skunk wafting off the highway and across the hay field.

In The View From the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman shares how Stephen King nudged him down the path of becoming a fiction writer. Gaiman did not have time to write fiction. As a journalist, he was too busy trying to drum up enough odd jobs to keep food on the table. Then King told Gaiman that if he would write just one page a day, just 300 words, than at the end of a year he would have a novel.

Recalling this advice from King, Gaiman commented, "...it's how I've written books I haven't had the time to write." Children's books like Coraline and The Graveyard Book. Adult fiction like Neverwhere, and American Gods.

Stephen King's own writing career had a rather inauspicious beginning. Dirt poor and living in a trailer, he worked in an industrial laundry and he pumped gas and he worked as a janitor. (This does not sound too unlike being a mom, does it?)

Exhausted at the end of each day after working two or three different jobs, King would make himself sit down at a makeshift desk set up between the washer and dryer and write at least one page each night before collapsing into bed. A page a day. Eventually, Stephen King finished his first novel.

And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

This story encourages me for a couple of reasons. First, it reminds me that others know what it is to have to squeeze their writing into the cracks of a too-full day. Others understand the tension of juggling what simply must be done and what one wants most to do.

Second, it reminds me that perseverance in very small ways - one page! - can accomplish great things. This encourages me to be disciplined, to make myself do the sometimes incredibly difficult task of writing (I am so tired! I am so busy!) even when countless other things demand my time and attention.

Finally, it makes me think: it is okay to write. It is okay for me to clock out after pulling a third shift, to say "no" to the one-more-thing that needs to be done, and to write.

I work hard at my day job: I am not a slacker.

I want to work hard at my writing, too.

Even if it's only one page a day.

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