Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Zero advice from a multitasking failure

I am a crap multitasker. Seriously, I can’t even answer more than one question at a time. When I was in college, I had to make lists and calendars and check them every 5.2 seconds, and set alarms and Sharpie schedules on my skin, and even then I was a human wad of panic for four years, certain I was going to forget something important or let somebody down.

When my kids were little, I breathed in a volcanic-seized anxiety cloud and held it in my body for about ten years, and everything else in the universe went on hold so I could do just that one job right.

I have to be honest here: I have no advice on how to balance time and commitments, how to keep a consistent writing schedule despite the maelstrom of life. I have never done it successfully.

When you have a day job, you go and do the job, then you come home and—unless you are crazy and bring work home, like I used to do—you have a whole evening to be parent or partner or fan or hobbyist or, basically, yourself. Geography manages the priority of tasks: if you’re at the office, you do the work. If you’re at home, you do the other work.

But writing isn’t like that. I don’t have an office. I don’t even have a chair that other people feel uncomfortable invading when it suits them. I can’t say, hey, here’s the cubicle so I must work. Instead I’m driving down the MoPac Expressway and character dialogue pops into my mind, and I have to pull over and scribble notes and then deal with being late to music class or the dentist. Or I get the most brilliant workaround for a plot snaggle, but it’s 3pm and I have to go fetch the children from school and by the time I get to a place where I can write down that brilliant thought, it’s gone. Lost.

Or I have a deadline, so I put the kids to bed then lock myself in the guest room and write until I literally fall asleep on the smooth, warm keyboard. Only to have my alarm go off an hour later and, as Deadpool would say, it’s time to make the chimichangas.

So yeah, I’ll write this morning… but only after I’m done typing out this blog post.

And putting the laundry into the dryer.

And setting up needed appointments with orthodontists, scanning and emailing forms to day camp coordinators, replying to emails that probably arrived yesterday.

Answering phone calls from family members who are extroverts and need to talk things out, and I love them so it’s OKAY.

Feeding the pets. Taking a shower. Deliberately ignoring the news because I just can't with that.

And quite possibly, by the time I've completed all the musts, it won’t be morning any longer.

I’m sorry I don’t have good advice on carving out write-space in your life, but the thing is, every writer deals with the stuff I deal with, and you make it work. You make the time. You keep all these balls in the air with grace and a grin like precision Cirque jugglers.

And I admire the hell out of y'all.