I wanted to blog about the unenviable state of parking lot etiquette in the United States. It’s a crisis of horrific importance that needs to be addressed, honestly and dispassionately, but it turns out I don’t have the time.
And that, unbelievable as it may sound, is an even bigger problem than the shameful behavior displayed by Americans in parking lots (I’m looking at you, a-hole at IKEA this morning).
I am faced with a time-management crisis.
I work full-time.
I have two toddlers and a wonderful wife who has worn her sanity to the bone dealing with those toddlers while I’m at work.
I’m a writer. As such, I have critique groups, writing to do, a small press I’ve founded, and for the last seven years, I’ve been a NaNoWriMo Municipal Liaison.
I am addicted to reruns of T.J. Hooker, and have to watch at least one episode every night.
I won’t even bring up the lawn I have to mow and maintain.
(Curse you, Kentucky bluegrass!)
It has recently become painfully apparent that I can’t do all of this.
Quitting my job seemed like the obvious first choice for a solution. But the missus was quick to point out some of the disadvantages: no income, no health insurance, and even worse, I’d lose an 8+ hour window each day where I don’t have to deal with my spawn, who seem to relish sucking the marrow out of people’s sanity bones.
(Yes, it’s a real bone. It’s in your arm somewhere, near the funny bone, I think. Look it up.)
The missus can be a real killjoy sometimes.
Which led me to my second idea – ditch the killjoy and the tykes. But there was just something about that idea that felt wrong. I haven’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was, but the closest way to describe it is a horrible, burning void-like emptiness in my soul that manifested immediately after I considered this option.
Dashed inconvenient, that.
And as is obvious to anyone who has experienced the delight that is a William Shatner performance, T.J. Hooker is staying on the agenda.
With those three options off the table, I’ve sort of painted myself into a corner. The area where I need to make a sacrifice appears to be my writing.
Oh, I won’t stop writing. The kids still have a (reasonably) early bedtime, and some nights they even go to sleep when put down. So I can, in theory, squeeze some words in there.
(That said, in the twenty minutes I’ve been (trying to) work on this entry, I’ve had to deal with crying babies twice, and they were put to bed three hours ago.)
Some of these writing commitments are huge time-sucks, and I’m not sure how I’ll address that, given the rapidly shrinking amount of time I have for writing.
OK, that’s a total lie. I know exactly how I’ll have to address them. I’m just not happy about it.
I’m going to have to choose. I’m going to have to make cuts and sacrifices. And unlike our current national debt ceiling crisis, there aren’t any tax revenue options on the table that can be used as offsets to help me scale back the cuts.
(Damn, I miss the days of the writing time surplus. Curse my shortsightedness in not stockpiling some of those precious minutes then, when they were readily available!)
So I have to take a long, hard look at my craft and the activities that surround it. Where can I eek out more efficiency? What can I do to strip out the cost of fraud? How do I determine which writing activities provide the biggest return on the time I invest in them?
It’s going to be ugly. There will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth. And once I’ve calmed the toddlers down, I will most likely cry too.
Maybe the pharmaceutical companies will come up with a pill for horrible, burning void-like emptiness in the soul.
A writer can hope, right?
What about you writers out there? How do you fit the literary compulsion into your life? Have you had to make cuts to this most beloved of entitlements? Once the kids grow up, can you reclaim that time, or does it just get worse and worse the older they get? Is selling your kids off for scientific experimentation still an option these days? If so, how much does a two year old go for?