Y’know, some people can multitask in life, and some people can’t. I see people in publishing doing so many things at once–reading slush, agenting, parenting, traveling, editing, revising, drafting, and the list goes on and on. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself in the last five and a half years that I’ve been writing seriously, it’s how much of a binge-er I am.
I am not a multi-tasker. I’m a binge-er.
When I draft a novel, everything else in my life takes a back seat. My kids eat hot dogs and toast for a month and the dishes and laundry pile up until I finally get to them maybe once a week during that time.
When I read a novel, I sit and shut out the entire world. It takes my husband three or more tries to get my attention.
When I clean my house, I put on headphones and listen to a book or a podcast or a lecture on writing and I forget about anything else happening. I could do this for hours.
When I play with my kids, I am present and excited and I don’t look at my phone for hours. When I read to them, I abhor being interrupted by anything else.
As most of you probably know, for most of 2016 I was pregnant with my third child. And all of my mental focus went toward that task. You’d think it would just happen subconsciously and I could do other things, but no. Every other section of brain space was limited because of the pregnancy. As evidenced by the fact that I blogged four times the entire year.
I revised well for a while. I drafted 25k words during nano. I read a few books. I mostly kept the house clean. But I could not for the life of me FOCUS on any one thing except Being Pregnant and taking care of my two boys.
And now? Well, the baby is here.
It’s been a single exhausting week, and I’m just starting to help her get her days and nights on schedule. She’s beautiful and perfect and I couldn’t be more grateful that I now have another thing to binge.
Taking care of a newborn is hardest in the first month and a half. After that, things tend to calm down to something resembling a new normal. So for the next five weeks I’m bingeing taking care of a newborn baby. I’m basically in survival mode for a while.
But the thing is, I miss writing. I miss it a LOT. And now that I’m not pregnant my mind keeps floating back to my many manuscripts and side projects and wishing I had the energy to stay awake and work on them instead of sleeping when the baby sleeps. As it is, I’m writing this blog post on my phone while she’s sleeping, and I keep nodding off.
But this is why I chose Patience as my word/goal/mood for 2017. Because I know writing will be there waiting for me when my mind and body are ready to get back to it. My baby won’t always need me this much, and I won’t always be this tired. It’s hard to see that far ahead, but I have to keep telling myself these things or I’ll crash and burn.
Usually I’m very much a go-getter in my life. I set goals and I achieve them. I say, I’m gonna write this book by this date, and I do it. But with a tiny person who needs me so much, I can’t ask so much of myself. So I’m trying to learn to say no to things, to take a step back and take my time when it comes to my personal goals. It’s difficult, especially because I have amazing friends who are agented and publishing and doing all the things I want so much to do… but as Aaron Burr says, “I’m willing to wait for it.”
My time will come, just… not yet.
I have other things to focus on in the mean time.