In the rather long list of Things I Wish I’d Said, is a quote whose attribution I’ve shamefully forgotten. Possibly it’s Stephen King. But it is: “No writer has ever been able to convince his spouse that when he is looking out a window, he is working.”
That right there is a prime aphorism. Witty and true. Of course, you can expand it to family, children, in-laws, etc., but why complicate such elegance?
I had a corollary to that aphorism bite me on the butt yesterday.
I’m engaged in a writing contract right now – I think I alluded to that earlier. Can’t say much about it, of course, but it amounts to another writing-by-committee venture, in which I bring my work to the table and I am informed of every aspect in which I am wrong, wrong, wrong, and my lively and likable main characters are ground down to bland, inoffensive placeholders. It’s not fun or necessarily rewarding, but it is a paycheck, and after a couple of years of scraping by on a part-time job and half, the money is more than welcome.
Anyway, said part-time and a half jobs, after shutting down completely for two and three weeks for the holidays (without pay, which makes the income from the writing gig even more welcome), suddenly gearing back up and demanding more of my time than usual, I am finding myself working hard on my time management, at which I’ve never been that adept. Setting aside blocks of time for writing. I’m told this is how honest-to-God writers operate, they keep office hours. Mine tend to fall in the evenings, from 4 to 8. It’s just the way it worked out – that’s when I have a block of free time, with an option of expanding into the 8-10 range, as necessary.
This scheduling is complicated by the fact that I generally prepare dinner in the evenings, as I’m the one who has – or had – the time to do that.
So yesterday afternoon, I am a couple of hours into my writing – I had started an hour early, yay Sundays – when I realize I am very hungry. I’d had a late breakfast, and had powered my way through without lunch. So I left my sanctum and called down the stairs, “Has anyone considered dinner yet?”
“What were you thinking?”
There was some pre-fab chicken parmigiana, pasta and garlic bread I had picked up the week before, so my family would have something to heat up and eat when I was in town for meetings to puree my writing. They never used it, though, and I suggested it.
“No, I don’t want that. I think you should go get us some fried chicken.”
“Um, I’m writing to a deadline, here.”
“Well, we’re watching Dispicable Me.”
“I fail to see the equivalence there.”
But, there are some things it is useless to argue about. I wound up dressing more warmly, leaving, stopping by the bank (which admittedly I needed to, anyway), getting the chicken, returning, and eating.
Net sum: about an hour of writing time lost.
It did give me a little time to consider, and construct a list of things I needed definitive answers about from the clients, to avoid the “wrong, wrong, wrong”s. That limited what I actually could write about, and I finished that in good time, and e-mailed it out to the various recipients. Was feeling pretty good and full of chicken, until I got an e-mail, saying it was all great as usual, but would it be possible to have three more pages done by tomorrow?
Sure, I sigh, Why not. I’ve still got the 8-10 slot.
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