Monday, August 16, 2010

August Chaos and Whining

Every year of my adult life the middle of August is filled with days of chaos. My past included a few years of coaching and the preseason starts two weeks before Labor Day. Preseason practices entail multiple workout sessions each day, usually morning and evening, and when my sons played football that sometimes meant ‘three-a-days.’

These days I’m no longer involved in coaching and I only have one child playing a sport this year but there’s still enough chaos and disruption to go around. For the past seven years August has also meant the packing up and sending off of a child to college. For those of you who haven’t gone through that yet, don’t worry about crying when they leave. You cry trying to get everything together they need to live on their own. Teenagers obviously think shampoo just appears in the shower when you need it let alone something as mundane as toilet paper. They also have to learn, this means you have to do it, things take up less room when packed neatly. All this involves numerous trips to the store to get all the things they don’t think they’ll need but you know they will. It also includes buying a lot of things you hope they’ll use but they probably won’t. Things like Lysol kitchen and bathroom wipes, shower cleaners and fabric softeners.

Beyond the trips running the one athlete I have still competing are the three inservice days I must attend before actual school starts. And hanging over all the busy, not entirely unpleasant hustle, is the dread of another year of school.

School means the end of sleeping in an extra hour, staying up as late as I wish when the writing bug keeps me at the keyboard and the impossibility of a cup of coffee whenever I want it. It means my writing hours have been cut into a fraction of what they were during the summer months. It means fewer website and blog updates.  Every year I dread August more than the one before. Every year I wish I could leave teaching behind and work full time on my writing. But this year is not the year.

For at least two or three more years, I must hold onto the day job and write into the late night and in moments snatched from my family time. I must whip out pieces of scenes between loads of laundry and preparing meals. How I envy those who can not only write full time but have the kids all in school while they’re doing it. I know from how much I write during the last six weeks how much I can accomplish when I don’t have to work another job eight hours a day. The prohibitive cost of tuition and the state of the economy disallows any thought of early retirement or trying to live on my husband’s income alone until I make enough writing to replace my teaching salary. I love teaching and enjoy spending all those hours with teenagers though there are many other parts of the profession I despise. But I want to stay home and write or better yet, go to my favorite coffee shop and write.

Sorry for all the whining today but what about you? Would you give up your day job to write full time if you could? Would you be brave enough to dare it if you weren’t making money yet? Do you know many authors who actually support their family with their writing income?


  1. Since my kids are now grown and I'm no longer working full time, I'll say: as trying and frustrating as it is now, treasure the days, the minutes, the seconds. You'll miss them. Plus, what you can accomplish in a stolen fifteen minutes now, you'll take an hour to do once you have all the time in the world.

  2. I did just that a few years ago, although I have done part-time work along the way to keep the lights on. I'm at the point something big needs to happen or I'll need to (gulp) go back out there in the real world and get a real job.

    Stephen Tremp

  3. Helen, I believe what you say is true. I really have to be strict with myself during the summer months to work as hard during my writing time as I do in the shorter hours of the winter.

  4. I send my best wishes for your success, Stephen. It takes a lot of courage to take the chance and I hope that something big come your way soon.

  5. I don't imagine I'll ever quit my dayjob. I'm a teacher too. It can be quite chaotic, can't it :)

    I find I'm able to write at about the speed summer or winter (probably similar to what Helen said), but for agent research, querying, research... I get a ton more of that done in the summer.

  6. Jemi, this is the first summer I've accomplished so much writing. I also do more blogging in the summer. Have fun in your next school year.

  7. I do feel for you Susan. It's a tough one.

    And it's okay for me - you could call me 'fortunate' because I'm at home all day although ill health forced me to retire aged only 32.

    Whilst it was very difficult at the time, (I had a career as a Bank Manager) it worked out well as I could spend quality time with the children and of course, turn my attention to my writing.

    But what I will say is we tend to somehow find the time for the things we love. I'm sure that the time you squeeze from your day will tend to be more productive and focussed that someone who has the luxury of spending all day writing. When I was working, sometimes I would get up at 4am to be creative, writing and doing crafts.

    Whilst I know I can write all the time now, I spend a lot of my day being unproductive and also feeling guilty. Helen Ginger is right - and I for one admit to being almost obsessive about my writing. But I don't think that having all this time makes me a better writer than if I had an hour a day.

    Well, it's good to meet your aquaintance and I look forward to following your writing progress.

    warm wishes

  8. Susan,

    I just wanted to write you to tell you I am a fan of the Futhark Chronicles so far...

    Your have a great storyline with a nice balance of action and romance. It kinda feels like a fantasy version of a James Bond book. I am in my mid 30's and rarely can get into a book unless it has lots of original material in mythic proportions. The classics normally come to mind...Bram Stokers Dracula, The Icewind Dale Trilogy, and certain authors writing styles such as Ben Bova and Poul Anderson.

    Your book was fun to read and I can't wait for the 2nd and 3rd installments to come out. I will probably asking for a gift card to Barnes and Nobles for Christmas since they are scheduled to come out in January.

    Sorry for taking up so much space, but I really wanted you to know that you have a big fan in Ohio, and I hope this is just the beginning of a long a prosperous career.

    Thanks again for a great story.

    Akron Ohio

  9. It so interesting, Bluestocking Mum, to hear about your writing schedule and how you spend your time. I hope I would be productive if I gave up the day job but hearing from people like you creates a little self-doubt. Good luck with your writing.

  10. J, I can't tell you how much your comment means to me. I'm in the middle of back to school work and of course, final edits always seem to be at this time. I've been procrastinating and moving at a snail's pace through them. But hearing from you will get me moving.
    I promise the second book is even better. LOL