Writing Progress: Week Ending March 23, 2013

Spring may have sprung*, but when it comes to writing, there’s no spring in my step:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 0 words

Story of V:

  • Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

There’s no need, I think, to rehash all the reasons why my writing hasn’t exactly blossomed.  Suffice to say that the pace of life with both V.R. and B.T. continues unabated.  At the moment, I have no reason to expect anything else.

As I said last week, it is now quite clear to me that I was being overly optimistic when I set my goals for the year.  I knew V.R. was coming, obviously, but I thought it was possible for me both to have a baby and to find time to write.  Maybe if I didn’t already have a demanding daytime career, that might’ve been true, but I do and it’s not.

I have no reason, at this point, to expect the next several weeks to be any different.  If I get any writing in, it won’t be much, and will almost certainly be substantially lower than my stated weekly goal of 1,750 words.

As the regular reader here could possibly tell from the tone of my recent posts, this all leaves me in a bit of an anxious and emotionally conflicted state. As I should hope is obvious, adding V.R. to our lives has been a happy and much-looked-forward-to occasion. And I regard the developments at the day-job that keep me so busy as being largely positive. But as a writer, which is a big part of my self-conception, all of this is a significant set-back. It’s difficult when you go through a sustained period of time where you must, of necessity, suppress an important part of yourself. For me, there’s a lot of internal angst and conflict over whether I can even honestly use the term “writer” to describe myself when I can’t even perform the most basic and self-definitional of tasks attributed to writers: namely, to write something, anything, regardless of quality. If I can’t even put words to paper, then what am I, really? A poseur?

The answer, I think, is that right now, and for the immediately foreseeable future, I’m not a writer. I’m a father who sometimes, on rare occasions when opportunity presents itself, indulges in a fantasy hobby of writing. I hate to call myself a hobbyist, because writing is so much more important to me than a mere hobby, but at the present time it feels the height of pretense to call myself a writer, much less an author, aspiring or otherwise.

I know that’s just the stress of the moment speaking to me. This, too, shall pass. But in the meantime, the fact remains: I’m not writing. And I don’t see that changing for a while.

Which leaves me wondering: why am I running through these paces, going on about how much writing I’m not doing, every week? I wonder if the time hasn’t come to say: “Hey, I’m not writing right now. I’ll let y’all know when that changes.” Then, I can focus what very limited blogging time I have to writing something more interesting than the same old “hey, no writing this week” post.

What do you, dear reader, think?

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*Spring offer not valid in all locations. Please check your local weather listings for more details.

A Good Use of Time

I haven’t written much so far this year. Obviously there’s a good reason for that, and I’ve said as much in my weekly writing updates, but I haven’t exactly been forthcoming about what that reason might be. There’s a good reason for that, too. If you follow the blog very closely, you may have figured out the reason for yourself. Or maybe not. If you know me in real life, you almost certainly already know the reason.

Regardless, enough time has passed to leave sufficient ambiguity regarding exact dates, thereby protecting the privacy of all involved, that I feel comfortable revealing the truth at last, here on a public forum.

I’ve made only two prior mentions of V.R. here before. I explained what I meant by “V.R.” one of those times, but it was a small, passing remark.  Here’s where the very close reading comes into play. Longtime readers of this blog will know I refer to my dear son by the identity-concealing epithet “B.T.” So it will not be shocking when I point out again that “V.R.” is the code-name I’ll be using here to refer to his little brother.

That’s right. I’m a daddy. Again. I’m the father of two little boys, now.

So maybe you can start to see why I haven’t had much time for writing. (Incidentally, this is why I gave myself fourteen whole weeks off from writing, when I set my goals for the year, which was the second time I mentioned V.R. In retrospect, I may have been overly optimistic in how much free time I’d have for writing with a new baby in the house.)

It’s not just the baby, mind you. It’s the rest of real-life, too. Like many – probably most – authors and aspiring authors, I have a day-job. A day-job I happen to like. I work on a rather small team in a much larger company. At the beginning of the year, however, that team shrank one person smaller, as a coworker left for a new position at another company.

This has turned out to be quite good for me in professional terms, on balance. I’ve had to step up to the plate, and take on increased responsibilities. I’ve now been involved in more high-profile projects, and I’m playing a bigger role on the team. In time, I believe this increased exposure will lead to professional development opportunities.

But in the short term, it means a significant investment of time at work. Where I used to have relatively free lunch hours, I now regularly work. It has become not uncommon at all for me to work late – one, two, even three or more hours late. All of this eats into time that used to be somewhat available for writing, reading, blogging, and following the blogs of other authors and writers.  Inasmuch as I’m working more, I’m doing those things less.  For all we mortals (and especially the sort into heavy-duty self-help) like to talk of time management, ultimately time management is a zero-sum game.

So this is how my days go: I wake up early… Earlier than I used to because there’s more to be done each morning before I get out the door.  At this point in the day I’m already groggy and tired, because I didn’t get a great night’s sleep the night before.  (Nor the night before that, nor the night before that…)  Because there are now two children, getting ready is somewhat more complicated.  I get out the door a little earlier than I used to.  For now, I’ve taken over primary responsibility for B.T.’s daycare drop-off.  That means I have to build in a little extra commute time each morning.  (Dropping B.T. off at daycare frequently involves reading  a book.)  I still arrive at work about ten to twenty minutes later, on average, than I used to, when I did only a couple drop offs per week.

Most days I get to work already knowing at least one or two things I have to start work on – usually things I didn’t quite wrap up from the day before, sometimes a chance to work on longer term but lower priority projects that get pushed to the side in the hustle and bustle of a normal day. It isn’t long before the rest of my coworkers and my supervisor are in, and then it’s really off to the races. I try to catch breakfast before everyone gets there. But once things really get moving on the day’s work, it’s pretty close to non-stop. I usually work through lunch, eating at my desk. By the time I leave work, on a regular day, it’s a little north of nine hours later. But it’s increasingly common these days that it’s a lot further north of nine hours.

Excepting the extra morning commute time taken to drop B.T. off at daycare, the evening commute is invariably worse than the morning. By the time I get home, my family is sitting down to dinner.  Or sometimes they’ve wrapped dinner up already.  Either way, my evenings often begin by going straight from my car to my kitchen table to eat, and from there to play time.  At this point, I haven’t seen Dear Wife all day save for a hug-and-kiss goodbye in the morning.  The time I’ve spent with B.T. consisted largely of trying to herd him out the door followed by car-driving time (which is not typically the most interactive of times with a few exceptions).  And I pretty much haven’t seen V.R. at all.  So I want to spend time with my whole family, being a good husband and father to them all.  Most days, there isn’t much time for that before it’s time for B.T. to head to bed. 

Bedtime is it’s own lengthy ordeal.  Dear Wife and I mostly take turns, though not evenly, and if I’m not putting B.T. to bed, I’ve got V.R. to care for.  Like his brother before him, V.R. likes being held.  A lot.  If I can manage to put V.R. down, there are dishes to be done and lunches to be made for the next day.  Most of the time, none of that gets done until after B.T. is firmly ensconced in his bed.

By the time all of that is done – and we’ve largely abandonned any pretense of getting any additional house-work done – Dear Wife and I both are thoroughly exhausted.  We’ve both had busy days, and for my part if there was time I missed there that I could’ve been writing, I’m too sleep-deprived to see it.  We take maybe ten or fifteen minutes of downtime to decompress (frequently with chocolate-based assistance)… and then it’s off to bed.

Yet, despite our mutual exhaustion, a truly restful sleep remains elusive, as V.R. makes it known frequently throughout the night that we are terrible parents for starving him.  I mean, it’s been like two hours since he last ate.  We should’ve been on top of that like twenty minutes ago!  The delay is simply unconscionable.  Or at least, that’s what it sounds like he’s saying when you translate his hunger screams into something more polite. 

The morning comes too quickly, and the cycle begins anew.

Writing Progress: Week Ending March 16, 2013

Obviously, I’m less happy with this week than I am with the last:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 0 words

Story of V:

  • Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

If I need to spell out why, I’ve not been doing a very good job at spelling out my writing-related goals for the year…

For those following along at home, I’ve now burned through 7 weeks of this year without writing, compared to only 4 weeks of the year spent writing.  I’d allotted myself 14 weeks this year for non-writing, anticipating that I’d need quite a few.  Yet, it’s clear that I was being… optimistic

Overall… I’ve written just north of 3,000 words so far this year.  That’s not a lot of writing, so far.  In fact, even if I take out the seven weeks I’ve spent not writing this year, I’m only at 43% of my goal for the year.  (I should’ve written around 7,000 words if I’d written 1,750 each week that I spent writing.)

From where I stand now, quite honestly, I don’t see a near-term end in sight for this drought from writing.  I know it will end, eventually, but I just can’t tell for certain when it will.  A few weeks?  A few months?  Will most of the year pass before I am once again able to find enough writing time to make some solid forward momentum?  Time will tell, I suppose.  There’s  your daily cliche for you.

So, how are you doing, this week?  If you write, did you get much writing done?

Writing Progress: Week Ending March 9, 2013

All things considered, I’m really happy with this week:

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 1,024 words

Story of V:

  • Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 1,024 words

The circumstances that have limited my free time have not abated, but with a little help from Dear Wife, I was able to find a little time to squeeze out a little writing progress. A thousand words I’d no where near my weekly goal, but it’s substantially more than I’ve been able to do for most of this year. For that, I’m pretty happy.

Structurally, I’m passing through the first turning point, reaching the end of what I’ve been thinking of as the first of five acts. At about thirty-thousand words, that puts me roughly on track for my wordcount target for this book. Of course, that has several assumptions built into it. For instance, while I’ve plotted the book out, I haven’t really dug into my list of scenes to tease out what the structure actually looks like. The assumed five acts is based on a gut feeling. I’ve also assumed the first act would be the shortest; it has the fewest number of scenes.

Regardless, it’s nice to see that the novel is shaping up more or less how I expected, even if the pace of writing it is much slower than I’d like.

So my week was good. How was yours? Tell me about it in the comments.

Writing Progress: Week Ending March 2, 2013

Yes… it was a slow again.  Same story, different week…

Book of M:

  • Background Notes Wordcount: 0 words
  • First Draft Wordcount: 0 words

Story of V:

  • Wordcount: 0 words

Grand Total: 0 words

Circumstances which either prevent or strongly restrict my writing time continue to dominate my life at the moment. Some things are just more important than writing. (Don’t get me wrong, writing is pretty important. It’s just that some things really are more important.) I miss the writing, of course, but with any luck and just a little good planning on my part and I’ll see my way back to having some good, regular writing time again soon.

In the meantime… I got nothing. So instead, it’s your turn. Share something entertaining. Tell us about your week, in writing or otherwise. Just make it interesting!