Monday, June 6, 2016

Finding an Hour a Day

Well, one day - ONE! - after posting my weepy, whiny complaint about how I can no longer find my golden hour of the early morning to write, I sat down with my little strategizing notebook and solved my problem, just like that.

The problem: my house is very small and very crowded, and my darling two-year-old toddler-in-residence now gets up unpredictably early. I've built my whole entire career on writing for an hour first thing in the morning. So it's now impossible to pursue my career as a children's book author, right?


To find my solution I began by listing all my woefully  imperfect options, with my litany of reminders why each one wasn't going to work:

1) Get my hour later in the day - oh, but I hate not starting my day off with writing! Once that crucial early morning time slot has passed, it's too easy to talk myself into thinking I might as well do my writing "tomorrow."

2) Slip away to a cafe and spend my hour there - oh, but that would mean getting dressed, and driving somewhere, and spending money, and what if they don't have a comfy couch, or what if they do and some other author has already claimed it?

3) Get up at 4:00 - oh, but that's sooooo early, even for me!

4) Try to make someone else take care of Kataleya - oh, but her father is off at work and her mother has been up many times all night long with a newborn baby, and it hardly seems fair to rouse her again.

5) Let Kataleya fend for herself when she awakes - oh, but who could recommend that for a very active and mischievous two-year-old who every day finds a new way to foil our child-proofing?

6) Give up writing. I don't even need to list why this option is unacceptable to me.

I realized that I could stare at this list for the rest of my days, and it wasn't going to change. These are the options. I had to pick one of them. The best one, all in all, was #3. As my literary hero, Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, wrote about his own pursuit of a writing career in tandem with a career in the British Post Office: "There must be early hours, and I had not as yet learned to love early hours." Okay. Early hours it would be, and I'd make myself learn to love them.

Unless. . . I reminded myself that actually Kataleya usually sleeps until 6 or 6:30 or even 7. There was only one morning - really, only one - when she was up at 5:30. It's true that now that I know she may wake up, I can't have the utter, spellbound, writing concentration of yore. But maybe I can talk myself into ignoring this dread possibility and write my best, anyway.

So, a new option appeared on the list:
7) Get up at 5:00. Don't check email. Don't check Facebook. Don't do anything but write as fully and fiercely as you can for one hour. If Kataleya wakes up during that hour,  yes, it's a disappointment. But life has disappointments in it, and only whiny babies wallow in them.

Problem solved. This morning I got up at 5:00. I worked for a glorious hour on the keynote address I'm giving in a week and a half at the Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers workshop in Utah. I realized that I already had the talk well in hand from previous hour-a-day stints, so in today's hour of intense concentration I got the rest of it in good enough shape that, although I plan to do plenty of tweaking between now and then, if I had to give it tomorrow, that would be perfectly fine. Hooray!

Next time I have a vexing problem, I think I'll skip right over the self-pity stage and go straight to finding an imperfect but workable solution. I mean, why not?

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