So, apparently I lied yesterday – I am back today. I didn’t mean to lie, or expect to be here, but after a day at the final Year of the Novel course at the Queensland Writer’s Cetnre there was a part of brain that clicked over and said wait, yes, I am meant to be writing, perhaps it’s time to reclaim that bit of my life again. And so I have critted work, and pondered problems with the novel-in-progress, and chatted with the awesome Angela Slatterabout when we can kick off write-club again and which day we can use so we can get some continuity going (we’ve traditionally used Fridays, Sundays and Thursdays, all of which have become untennable due to semi-regular scheduling conflicts).
It’s been chaotic fortnight around these parts – it kicked off with the news of my dad’s heart attack on the 24th of October that saw me spend much of the week on the Gold Coast, either at the hospital or at my parents place doing stuff to help my mum out. It was followed with my first week of work at the new day job (acquired on the day my dad went in for his triple bypass) while the list of post-operative complications from my dad’s surgery filtered through (short version: collapsed lung, a longer-than-expected stay in Intensive Care, and a slower build-up to post-operative physio than we would have liked).
The good news is that Dad’s looking like he’ll be getting out of the hospital soon. I have to thank a bunch of people for their well-wishes and e-mails and support over the last two weeks, but since it’ll be a while before I’m caught up on e-mail, I’ll say a big public thank-you now. My peeps, they are awesome.
And with all the mental space that’s been freed up, I get to move onto this week’s problem: figuring out how writing fits into my new work schedule.
In theory, this is easy. The day-job is a part-time gig as an office assistant, which makes it somewhat ideal for my purposes – I go in every morning, I work until lunch, and then I’m out. It’s the first job I’ve ever had where the work doesn’t follow me home – no marking, no preperation for the next class, no figuring out of what needs to be done or jobs that get taken home to be worked on after-hours. I don’t have to think about things until the following morning. In this respect its something of an anomoly for me, albeit a welcome one.
The tricky bit is this: I’m used to contracting and casual work, so I’ve never worked regular hours five days a week*. This means I’ve never had to be particularly disciplined about my writing in order to get things done – I didn’t suck at it, but if I set a word-count of 3000 words a day in order to hit a deadline, I could pretty much rearrange my schedule to meet it without too much difficulty. If it had to be done in the morning, I had time to goof off and play computer games. If I hit the wordcount in the wee hours of the morning, I could wake up a little later the following day. In the rare periods where time was at a premium and regidly disciplined schedules were required, they were short-term.
The new day job, hopefully, isn’t a short-term thing. Which means I’m going to have to figure out this “writerly discipline” thing in order to get stuff done at the speed they need to be. On the plus side it means I get to work a little smarter about things, but I also need to relearn how to resshape my expectations of what constitutes a good days’ writing.
With luck it shouldn’t take too long.
*I did work a full-time job once, but that was a work-from-home gig I could do in my pyjama’s most days and accumulated time-off-in-lieui like no-ones busines, so it wasn’t quite the same as this.