Yesterday, I asked a question on my Facebook page:
“How do you all find time to write? Seriously, I’m starting to wonder how people do it. I know you’re supposed to make time, but out of what, thin air? It’s frustrating . . .”
I got some wonderful comments about how to find time, and some that recommended things I was already doing: for example, I don’t watch much television anyway. But reading through them, I realized that the real problem wasn’t time. It was energy.
The real question is, how do you find the energy to write? Because honestly, some days I can’t even write a blog post. Part of it is my schedule: I teach four writing classes, and I have a two-hour commute to the university. Those two things by themselves take an enormous amount of time, but they take even more energy. At the end of a working day, I often just want to lie in bed, under a warm blanket, and do nothing. I’ve spent the entire day interacting with people, solving problems, dealing with whatever issues come up, and I’m exhausted. Perhaps I’m different from other writers in this way, but I need a clear head to write. I need energy.
You’ve seen “Blanchefleur,” right? Well, that’s my first draft. And while I don’t want to praise my own writing, that’s the way it comes out: what I type up, for a short story at least, is usually close to a final draft. But when I write, I’m never sitting there, idly scribbling. It always takes my complete focus. An hour or two of writing can be exhausting, although at the same time it can also be exhilarating enough that I continue on, sometimes beyond the point where I’m about ready to fall over.
So I think the real solution isn’t to find more time, but to change my life so that I have more energy to write. That partly involves making sure I’m doing writing that pays, so I can justify not taking on other paying work and focusing on the writing. That means writing novels, and I’m certainly going to focus on novel writing next.
So here’s the plan. (You knew there was going to be a plan, right? I am an inveterate maker of plans. And, often, those plans work.)
The plan is to get through the semester and then finish the novel over the summer. That will mean a lot of work, a lot of writing, all over the world since I’m going to be traveling. But I’m looking forward to it. I know my characters, I know quite a bit of the story I want to tell, and I’m looking forward to that sense of full immersion I get when I’m really going, when I’m living in the world I’ve created.
I want to spend time with my girl monsters.
The visual I’m going to give you tonight is Sarah Bernhardt:
Why am I giving you Sarah Berhardt? Because in a way, she identified herself as a girl monsters long before Lady Gaga came along. She slept in a coffin and she sculpted an inkwell with an image of herself as a gargoyle. That takes guts.
I have an enormous amount of respect for Sarah Bernhardt. Maybe I’ll write her into my novel, somehow . . .