Many of you know that I begin a new life on the first day of each month, a life that will revolve around creative joy and dazzling productivity. For a few days, I do indeed dazzle myself, but then the new life peters out and I'm back to my usual slothful, sluggish ways. Still, I owe everything I've ever achieved to those first few days of each month times twelve months in the year.
This month my new life needs to be the newest new life ever. I really think I'm done with academia this time, done with juggling dual careers as college professor and children's book author, done with traveling back and forth between Colorado and Indiana, done with ripping my heart out as I make each transition. I'm back in Colorado to stay. My children's book writing career will finally come first. I've recommitted to my family. "This one," I've said, pointing to my Colorado life. "This is the life I want to live."
So now I have to figure out exactly how to live it.
My chief structural challenge is that I live in a very small house that is filled with many creatures whom I love, and who love me: one husband, one son, one-daughter-in-law, two adorable granddaughters (two years old and two-and-a-half weeks old), a needy dog, and an aging cat. I'm the chief dog walker and toddler-entertainer. I guess I'm the matriarch, the mover-and-shaker, or maybe, to switch metaphors, the stabilizing presence that keeps it all from moving and shaking apart. But I'm also, or at least I want to be, a writer. That's always been the biggest part of who I am.
My usual answer for how to juggle competing demands in my life has been to wake up at 5 a.m. and spend the first, best hour of the day writing. Then I can spend the rest of the day however the universe (or my employer, or my family) wants me to spend it. I've "paid myself first," and the books have gotten written, slowly, surely, at a pace that ensured victory for a certain famous tortoise.
Lately, however, this isn't working for me. Kataleya can wake up at 5 or 5:30, when her daddy is already off at work and her mommy is trying to get needed sleep after being up several times at night with baby Madilyne. I can no longer count on my undisturbed hour. Should I get up at 4 a.m.? That is awfully early, even for me. And there's something about being unable to COUNT on my hour that consumes me with such nervous anxiety that I can't write.
Obviously, the solution is to take an hour for myself LATER in the day, leaving the house to do it. That is truly all I need to do. Leave! Go somewhere else! For just one hour! I could go to the local branch of the public library, but they don't open until 10, and if 4 a.m. is too early, 10 a.m. is too late. I could go to the nearest cafe, but it doesn't have couches, and I love writing on a couch. I could accept offers from friends to come write at their houses, but it's so easy to slip into chatting instead.
One way or another, I have to find a way to get an hour for myself, say, from 8:30-9:30, on some convenient couch with hot chocolate handy. Surely this can be done. And if I do it, my NEW new life will be my best new life ever.