Here’s what my usual week looks like. During the work week, I wake up around 6:00. I read the paper, check email, surf the internet for a few minutes, and get to work by 8:00. I toil away until 5:00 or so and am home around 6:00.
Lately, at least two or three evenings a week, I go for a run as soon as I get home, which, between the run, the sweating, and the shower, kills at least another hour. Then there’s dinner and sometimes I do the dishes (if not that, I’m watering flower beds or doing something else). More often than not, it’s 8:00 before I have a chance to sit down and relax. Even when I don’t run, there’s always something that comes up and that moment of relaxation doesn’t come until 7:30 or 8:00 most weeknight evenings.
And after all that I go through each day, relaxing is really just about all I can handle. The untold piece of my day is the on-going, persistent stress and frustration of my day job. It is this huge weight that is bearing down on me. A weight from which I cannot escape. And there’s the daily trauma of raising two kids who are both on their way to college this summer. I thought it would get easier now, but the financial stress of seeing your kids off when they are less than ready for it is something north of astounding.
So, yeah, it’s 8:00 and I could write but all I can think of at that point is that I want to do nothing. I don’t want to use one single brain cell. I just want to be nothing for a few minutes and not have to think, to worry, to fret, to analyze, to evaluate, to do anything more than watch the Giants on TV for a few minutes before going upstairs and reading before my eyes close and I get a few hours of peace.
Only I don’t even get it while I sleep. I’ve never slept well. In my 20s, it was insomnia. Having kids cured me of insomnia somehow, but I still don’t sleep well. I have no idea what it feels like wake up feeling rested. I did a sleep study a few years ago and was diagnosed as maybe having restless leg syndrome — a thing that can do serious damage to the depth and quality of your sleep without you even realizing it. There’s a drug for it, but I don’t think it works very good. So, let’s just say, I just don’t sleep that soundly. Which leaves me tired when I wake up and dragging through the day. And these days, I’m pretty much done by 8:30, upstairs with a book, and asleep by 9:00 or 9:30. And eight hours later I’m awake again.
My weekends aren’t much different. I get up at the same time, regardless of what I did the night before. I give myself some more time relaxing, until I feel somewhat awake and then I go for a run or a bike ride. I come home, get a few things done, have lunch, and take a nap, because you know after the week of you know what, it’s there and I want it. And most weekends, I’m on dinner duty. So, you now, weekends are mostly a wash as well.
Yes, there are decisions I make along the way. I could skip exercise and write instead. But my physical health is too important. I could write when I first wake up — but see above about how I feel when I wake up. It’s really, really hard to write or even think about it when I wake up. I could write more on weekends. This I know is true. But, it just doesn’t seem to be working out that way. Which leads to …
… and Why It Doesn’t Make Sense.
I started this whole writing journey about twelve years ago. Let’s go back there and take a look at what my life was like then. Same job and work hours, although not quite as stressful. Two kids who were 8 and 5 at the time. They both were playing soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring. Except for December, January, June and July, I was coaching their teams, which meant practices three or four evenings a week and games all Saturday long. And somehow I wrote a novel, and then I wrote another novel, and dozens of shorts stories. I look back at that time and compare it to what I’m doing now and I simply do not know how I was able to write as much as I did back then. Oh yeah, add in another thing. About ten years ago, I started running and ran regularly, including the training that was necessary for four half marathons. So, there was all this stuff I was doing then and I was writing like a mad man.
Today, I’m not writing much. Or blogging. Somehow, back then I could write for 30 minutes or 60 minutes. Here and there, filling in the blank spaces of my day with words on the page. These days, that just doesn’t seem to work. I can’t crack a story open feeling like I’m only going to have 30 minutes to write. It’s far more difficult now then it was then. For a long time, my internal editor was quiet. I just wrote and wrote and wrote. Now, not so much. I sit down to write and on my right shoulder, the lazy me is saying, “why bother, you’ve only got 45 minutes, just go on FB, it’ll be easier. Read a book, it’s easier.” And on my left shoulder, if I start to try to string words together, my internal editor is saying, “what a crappy writer you are. Did you really just write that? It sucks. Start over.” But my 45 minutes is up and there’s no time, so why bother starting over.
I think that’s it. I’m trying. I’m working on this. Trying to find a path towards more time to write and freeing my internal editor so IT can go bother somebody else. It’s just not happening yet.
Thought I’d share that with you all. 😉