Monday, January 21, 2008

Time After Time

Where did the extra day of the long weekend go? I've been experiencing the slightly anxious feeling of trying to balance the demands of a new semester with a different schedule with all of my goals for my writing life, not to mention having a life with my husband. I'm still working out the kinks.

In the new issue of The Writer's Chronicle, there is an interview with married writers Elizabeth Spires and Madison Smartt Bell. At one point they are discussing their different processes/schedules and Spires says, "I have a problem when my concentration gets punctured. I really just like the morning to be a blank slate. I wake up when Celia [their daughter] is ready to go to school, and we have breakfast, but I don't even want to have a conversation about the demands of the day, what we need at the grocery store, etc. I don't want to have anything like that happen until midday." Sigh. In the summers my days approximate this blank slate, and it is such a luxury. I fear I may begin counting the days for summer break before the semester has even really begun.

In the interview, the writers also discuss the difference between writing poetry and fiction. Spires says, "A poet has to start ex nihilo with every poem." She's making the point that prose writers get to come to the desk with a piece already going, for most of the time; whereas, for poets we begin fresh time after time with each poem. Having made an attempt at writing several stories, I do think there is a difference in the energy level there.

Another time question has been pestering me lately as well. When I do manage to find my 2-4 hours of writing time, I have to make a conscious choice about what I do with the time. Do I read a bit and try to start drafting something new? Do I work on one of the handful of newish poems I have going? (I can't usually handle having more than 3 or 4 different works in progress.) Do I manage my submissions, recording rejections, preparing new submissions, etc? Do I read the latest issues of The Writer's Chronicle, Poets & Writers, or any number of lit mags? Do I prepare yet another application for a summer residency? Do I blog? Being a writer whose goal is publication and reaching an audience means much more than being at the desk writing; the business side of things can eat through what little time I have without my even noticing it.

In the midst of this struggle for time, I do recognize that I am blessed with an extremely supportive husband, the financial security of a job I actually enjoy, and a community of friends to offer encouragement along the way.

No comments: