A Day’s Writing

“Full time writer” sounds so much more glamorous than “going crazy trying to find a few minutes to write in between kid wrangling”.

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When I had my third child my husband and I decided, for various reasons, that I would stay home. It’s a wonderful, amazing thing to be lucky enough to live on one salary and to have this time with my children and I’m grateful for it every day. It also seemed like a great time to finish the stories I’ve been working on for years and start submitting manuscripts, so I suppose that if I wanted to I could describe myself as a full time writer. In the first flush of enthusiasm I thought up a sensible plan where I would devote half of the hours my oldest is in school to chores/children/errands/laundry/dishes/house and half of those hours to writing. Hahaha. Several months later, here is a small slice of how my full time writing job is working out*.

Breakfast is done, 10 year old is at school, dishes are waiting for me in the sink but let them wait, a load of laundry is washing and the 3 year old is set up with her show. It’s Go Time!

It was Nan, of course, who caught her walking back towards the house. Her cautious tiptoe through the narrow dirt alleyway in between her own clapboard home and Seaton’s Grocery next door had become more of a victorious march, before a sudden voice shot out from amidst the clean washing snapping against pegs in zigzag lines over the alley.

“PUT your brother DOWN! Right now! He is not a toy.” The baby is back on the floor, my heart is beating normally again, and it’s Go Time once more.

“Anne Butler! What am I going to do with you? Wandering back here, casual as you please! Just look at your hair!” 

My 3 year old: “Mom? I want a drink of water.” I get up to get the water and hand her a cup. She hands it back. “I want it in a cup with a lid. The Purple one.” The water is transferred to the right cup. Happiness reigns and I can keep going.

The sharp tones cut straight through the screen of laundry to her, drawing out a wince. “Down around your shoulders like some wild woman….” trailing off into irritated mumbles, the voice came closer. “Only two hours left to get you ready for the wedding. Go! Go on and brush your hair out. For mercy’s sake get out of that old dress and pack it up. Go on now!”

I realize that I’m singing along under my breath to Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and that needs to stop right now.

A quick, apologetic hug made the stiff lines of Nan’s shoulders relax, just a touch, but her pointing finger was firmly directed at the back door and her stern face reinforced the command.

“Heave Ho here we go together as a team…..” Damn it.

Anne smiled wryly and started down the narrow hallway to her room to do as instructed. Really, she thought as she grabbed her old wooden brush, she had been gone too long on her walk, but she had wanted one last chance to cherish her letters from the man she had hoped to marry.

And the baby is crying. He’s changed and fed, so he probably wants attention and then a nap. 40 minutes later, he’s down for the nap but the 3 year old wants a snack. I’m done for the next hour while I deal with that and get some more laundry done. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few hundred words done before it’s time to pick the oldest up from school. And I’m laughing at myself for thinking I could use this time at home to be a full time writer.

*There are authors out there who work a full time job, take care of a family, have hobbies and a life, and still somehow manage to write. I bow down to them in abject adoration, because they have it so much harder than I do. And if any of them is reading the blog and has a few tips, I’m all ears over here.