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  • Em Shotwell

A Quick Update

Spending time.... Have you ever wondered why we phrase it this way? Why not using time? I believe it is because time is not only a commodity, but the one commodity that we cannot get back once it is gone. So, much in the same way we spend money--trading it for things that we want or need, we do the same with our time.

Well folks, much like my money near Christmas , my time gets spent pretty quickly during the summer months. Between being mom to two wild kiddos and selling our house, my ADHD struggle to really stick to a plan, on top of usual life "stuff," this summer didn't leave me much time to spend on myself or my writing. Don't get me wrong, I have no regrets. My summer has been great. Being able to spend time with my kids during the summer months is wonderful and I realize how privileged I am to be in a position to make this choice instead of having necessity make it for me. (THIS IS NOT A WORKING-MOM JAB. I have been a working mom. I have been a stay at home mom. And now I am a weird hybrid of the two, lol. You do you. Sometimes putting your kids first means going to work to put food on the table and for your own sanity. Sometimes it means staying home. Again- this is not a jab at either decision--just a blog about what I am doing. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.)

But that doesn't mean that I don't wish I had more free time to spend doing the other thing I love: creating stories.

In the beginning, I did my best to squirrel away writing moments during "in between" time--time spent in cars waiting for a child to finish an appointment or lesson or when everyone was asleep and the house was still and quiet, but I have to be careful doing this. Too much and my creative well runs dry pretty quickly and the only thing created are flat stories made up of cliched sentences. I am not a person who has to wait for a muse or have a hard-core routine, but I need more than a twenty minute block in the crowded, cry-filled waiting room of the pediatric physical therapist's office.

Now,, I find that often when I do give in and attempt to write in these mini-moments, it is because I am plagued by that familiar feeling of am I doing enough to be considered a 'real' writer if I'm not writing in every crevice of my free time? (Spoiler: yes. Yes I am.)

So this summer, for June and July, I decided to do something I very rarely do--I decided to give myself a break. Yes, I still wrote when I had the time or when inspiration meant an idea couldn't be ignored. I edited and read. But I didn't beat myself up over not finishing everything when it meant to do so I would have to devote every non-kid-filled second to my computer screen. (I know many women who do this and they are super-heroes, y'all. Seriously. This isn't a mommy-wars post or a "real-writers" jab. This is me trying to explain what works for my life. That is all.)

I'm a work horse and I worry that if I don't go at something full-steam-ahead that I will fall behind. That my readers will forget about my books and I will have to start over from the very beginning while my writer friends are seriously killing it. I also feel guilty about ignoring my kids to finish a project. I create in my head these huge soap-opera type scenarios where my then-grown kids are like "we never knew her...all she did was stare at the computer for our entire lives..." (Dramatic. Who? Me?) I know this is silly. That my kids are fine and that a month not writing won't matter in the long run--but knowing something and not obsessing over it are two different things.

I constantly (and silently) compare myself to other writers, other moms, other women, and wonder how I measure up. This is a terrible habit and one that I am working on stopping. So when I decided that a break was needed, not only did I step away from Microsoft Word, but I stepped back from the writing community as well (okay--mostly. I mostly stepped away). I love my community and they keep me going, but I knew that if I wanted to avoid the comparison trap, then this was the only way. I instead spent the summer shuffling and chauffeuring and scheduling and a million other things. I read deeply. I played. I actually had dinner with friends a couple of times.

But now summer is over and I am ready to put my nose to the grindstone once again. I have a book to finish editing, another one that is in the middle of a re-write, and a new and fresh idea that won't leave me alone.

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