15 Minutes

Those of you long-time blog readers are aware that I’ve been trying to write a novel for the past 2 1/2 years.  Nothing ambitious, more of a “let’s learn how to write a novel” project.  I really love the story, so it gives me a lot of satisfaction when I’m able to get the revisions churned out.

When I can’t get the revisions churned out, life is very, very frustrating.  Right now it is almost unbearably so.  The big kids are back in school, and William’s in preschool every morning.  I was under the impression that Back to School time would mean Back to Writing time for me.  I had a mental goal of getting the book ready for test-readers sometime soon.

But — oh.  What did I forget?  That’s right, Katie.  My big, delicious, very sweet yet very demanding eight-month-old.  She especially likes smacking people in the face.  See?

Before:

After:

William’s preschool is 3 hours long. That’s 3 hours of potential writing time.

Take away 20 minutes for walking back and forth to school: 2 hrs 40 minutes.

Katie needs a nurse right when we get home: 2 hrs. 10 minutes

Katie needs another nurse at the end of the three hour block: 1 hour 40 minutes.

That’s just the basic Katie requirements — and you’ll notice that my writing time is already halved.  Add to this mix a few diaper changes (5 minutes each) a situation where Katie will only take a nap on my lap (20 minutes) a moment when Katie bumps her head and needs a cuddle to stop crying (10-15 minutes) or is simply bored and wants to be held (20 unbearably frustrating minutes) and the time is whittled down even more.

And heaven help us if I even need to do anything like answer the phone, change a load of laundry, or use the bathroom. Every morning I keep trying to get back to my Word files, like a dog tugging on a leash.

Every morning, I spend three hours doing 15 minutes of work.

(How was I able to write this blog post today?  I’m typing while eating, that’s how.  Really.)

I try to type one-handed when I’m nursing, but that’s really frustrating — especially considering that I’m doing heavy revisions, which requires a lot of juggling between different word files, dragging blocks of text here and there, and other tasks that are much easier with two hands.  (One-armed novelists of the world, I salute you!)

The worst part of it all is when someone asks “What did you do today?” or “How did your day go?”  Most young mothers agree: this is about the worst question in the world, because the answer is usually “What did I do?  Nothing,” followed by a torrent of tears.  (Mentally, anyway.  I usually just say “Fine” and sigh.)

A better thing would be to ignore the unfolded laundry, dirty dishes, the scattered toys untouched since yesterday, and say, “Hey, I’m home!  And the kids are safe and healthy, their homework is done, and the baby’s thriving!  You must have had a very productive day!  I am so impressed and proud of you!  Did I also mention that you look fabulous?”

3 thoughts on “15 Minutes

  1. Yes! But I’m not even writing a novel… I think I need to print out your last paragraph and encourage Jared to memorize it.

  2. I remember my sister telling me (back when her 1st two boys, 10 mo’s apart, were little) that her husband would come home and say, “Hey, I’m home. And look, the kids are still both alive! Great job! That’s amazing! You’re such a good mother.” It helped her remember that it was a success.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any excuse so good as a baby for not doing my creative work. Just general procrastination and distraction.

  3. Wow, I’m amazed that you have found the time and energy to even Think about writing a novel, let alone actually get to revision stage. Well Done Brooke. I know how you feel with the demanding baby and the endless housework, and how it seems that the only time your kids seem to REALLY need your attention is when you are trying to talk on the phone or visit with someone for just a few minutes. Instead of writing a novel, I’m just trying to get my house unpacked and in order, not nearly as fun.

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