Roughly a month ago (and no, it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long) my family relocated to Michigan. (Ostensibly it was to be closer to my wife’s family. I think it’s because we secretly love snow, and just refuse to admit it to ourselves.) We haven’t moved into our own place yet but have staying with my In-Laws, as they have a tremendously over-sized house and have been happy to have us.
It’s been loads of fun staying with Lib’s family. We’ve been to some fun places, had a great Thanksgiving dinner, attended Great Grandma’s 90th birthday party, visited an Amish market, and put up the Christmas tree. Two of Lib’s brothers live here as well, so currently we’ve got eight people under one roof.
In addition to doing all of those things you do when you move to a new state (first and foremost has been getting the kid’s paperwork in order) and trying to finalize the sale of our house from halfway across the North American continent, I’ve also been frantically searching for a job, Lib has been trying to finish up an extensive on-line computer programming/web design course, and I, of course, have been doing my best to finish up PATH OF BONES and get to work on VAMPIRE DOWN.
And I thought I was busy before.
Wait a second, you might say, you don’t have a job, shouldn’t you have more time to write/edit/blog/make an ass out of yourself? Surprisingly, this hasn’t been the case. There are a number of reasons I’ve suddenly found myself challenged to get anything done. Some of these will seem familiar to all of your writers out there, so maybe you can identify with these issues..
- Job Hunting takes a lot of time, and I say this as someone who isn’t necessarily “hitting the street” but filling our applications online (some of these companies really need to get over themselves with these ridiculously lengthy and convoluted forms). I’ve been going on interviews (6 so far and counting), on the phone a lot more than I’ve ever wanted to be, updating my resume/Linkedin page, scouring the internet for job resources I haven’t seen before, etc. No, it’s no 8-hour workday with a commute, but at the end of the day I honestly think it’s more stressful and, ultimately, less rewarding.
- No work = more time with my son. This is of course a good thing…it’s also a “draining” thing. My son has autism, hyperactivity and ADD. He’s vibrant, full of “piss and vinegar”, as they say, and loves to get out and do things. He also needs his routine, and with the upheaval of moving things have been sort of turned on their end, meaning he needs more one-on-one parenting time and reassurances than ever before. He’s worth every second of my time, but holy $@#! he’s exhausting!
- We’re disrupting someone else’s routine. Lib’s family welcomed us with open arms, and without them there’s no way we could have made this move in the first place. That being said, I’ve had to “train” my children to be good house guests, and Lib and I have done everything we can not to dishevel our host’s lives more than we already have.
- I’m not the only one with a big To-Do List. As I mentioned, Lib is plowing through some hardcore online courses, and she needs just as much/more time to do her work than I do and has had fewer opportunities. I try to accommodate her as much as possible and give her a chance to get work done, but the obvious trade-off is when I give her more time, I have less. (We’re working on it.)
- It’s a different environment. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to get work done pretty much anywhere. I’ve written on buses, commuter trains, between calls at work, in various spots in our Washington home, etc. As it so happens, I’ve met my match in Michigan. For some reason I haven’t been able to focus through the distractions of being in a crowded home, and despite the size of this house I’ve yet to find a place with enough peace and quiet to get much of anything accomplished, which is why this latest edit of PATH OF BONES has taken almost twice as long as usual. I’ve had some modicum of success at the local coffee shops, but finding the time to get out and do that (see Reasons 1-4, above) has been the challenge.
All of this adds up to some new adventures in time management. This is a challenge faced by any Indie author, of course, and part of the fun is trying to find a way to work around it and be productive in spite of difficult circumstances.
In my case, it seems that the solution would be to find a way to get out to the coffee shop more often, and to maximize the time I spend there and get as much done as humanly possible. Easier said than done, I know, but I’m sure I can do it. The amazing author Lucia Berlin, who I had the great pleasure of learning under on two separate occasions during my time at the University of Colorado at Boulder, once taught us that we need to learn to find the time write while we were still in college, because with the introduction of jobs, families, and other commitments it was only going to get tougher to squeeze reading and writing into our daily grind. I always took that lesson to heart, but it’s been tough lately. Time to put what I learned to the test.
Writers, what time management challenges have you faced? How have you overcome them?
Steven Montano is living proof that a purely coffee-based diet is NOT a good idea. He’s also the author of the Blood Skies novels (Blood Skies, Black Scars, Soulrazor, Crown of Ash, The Witch’s Eye, Chain of Shadows) and the Skullborn Trilogy (City of Scars and Path of Bones, coming this February). Learn more about this raving lunatic at http://bloodskies.com/