I don’t like to whine about the difficulties of trying to maintain a professional writing schedule while juggling a full-time job, three kids, a husband, two dogs and three cats. Nobody wants to hear excuses. HOWEVER, I think I must do so to explain why The Lesson Plan is running late and likely to run even later than I’d hoped.
In the past, I always looked forward to September through June as my really productive writing time. With the kids in school and my older kids taking the bus both ways, I had a lot of time I could devote to both my day job and to writing. My day went something like this:
6:00 Get up and work an hour on the day job
7:00 Start getting kids out of bed/making breakfast
7:30 Drop youngest at school (15 mins round trip)
7:45 Work and/or write for the next 6.25 hours
2:00 Pick up youngest from school
2:15 Go back to work/writing
5:30 Knock off for the day, start kids on homework and cook dinner
Because my older kids were getting themselves to and from school on the bus, I essentially had about 10.5 hours each day to devote to both my day job and my writing job. I was working almost exclusively at home (although I did try to come into the office a couple of days each week), which means I didn’t lose work time to a commute.
Alas, things changed this year. Dramatically.
First of all, my oldest is now in high school and, for a variety of reasons, has chosen to attend a school that is too far away to ride his bike/walk. There is also no bus service. This means he must be dropped off and picked up each day.
Even worse, the middle school (in the infinite wisdom of budget cuts) stopped servicing the bus stop that was a block and a half from our house AND raised the single ride price (yes, we pay for bus service here) from 75 cents to $2.00. If my daughter were to ride the bus this year, I would have to drive her to the elementary school and pick her up there each day. This is not a time savings, especially not at $2 a pop. SO, she now must be dropped off and picked up each day as well.
And finally, my employer has decided it’s essential for me to be in the office for at least 16 hours a week. Given the drop off and pick up requirements for the kids, this means I have to come in four days a week for about five hours each day (I can’t get a full 16 hours in three days). The commute to and from the office is about 30 minutes each way.
Oh, and we didn’t used to have the dogs. The younger dog, in particular, needs a short walk each morning to burn off steam, and I am the designated walker.
All of these changes have led to a schedule that looks like this:
6:00 Get up, walk the dog, shower and dress to go to the office
6:45 Drive oldest child to school
7:30 Get back home, pick up youngest, take him to school
8:15 Arrive at work (unless husband can’t take middle child to school, in which case, I don’t get to work until 9)
1:30 Leave work
2:00 Pick up youngest from school
2:15 Work more (because I’d only put in a little over 5 hours)
3:00 Go pick up oldest and middle child from school
4:00 Work more (because now I’ve only put in 6 hours)
As you can see, I can hardly even get in a full 8-hour work day anymore. (Fortunately, I’m a salaried employee, so as long as I get my projects done, this isn’t a huge concern, but I do sometimes have stuff roll into weekends or even after dinner if there’s something pressing I need to complete).
So where’s the writing time? Obviously, it’s all but nonexistent. On rare occasions, I can write on the weekends, but that’s not common because we often have scouting and other events, not to mention all the household chores that must be accomplished on Saturday and Sunday (as there’s clearly no time for them during the week).
I know people will say that if I really want to write, I should just get up earlier, but honestly, that’s never going to happen. I have never been a morning person (getting up at 6 is hard enough) and I’m tired enough as it is. Even if I did get up an hour earlier, I doubt I’d be able to write anything coherent, and I have a very strong suspicion it would do bad things to my health, to boot.
All of this means that I am struggling against very long odds to finish my upcoming novella. I didn’t expect things to shake out this way when I planned to release it in October and then in November of this year. And I’m still hoping to find some writing process that will allow me to get this story written and released before the end of the year (ideally, I’d like to hit close to December 1, which is also the day Taking Liberties will be released by Harlequin, and since the two stories are closely related, I think it would be nice if both were available pretty much simultaneously).
That said, I’m not making any promises. I have always been a slow writer, but I used to be able to average about 1,000 words a day, 5 days a week. Lately, I’m luck to average a 10th of that. At this point, my goal is to find a process that allows me to be as productive as possible in the limited amount of time I can beg, borrow, and steal. I’m not sure what that process is going to be yet, but I hope to figure it out soon.
So, stay tuned. I do promise that The Lesson Plan will be released. But only when it’s the best story I can make it.
And finally, thanks for your support and patience. I truly appreciate it.