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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Good, Better, Best

Consider this my NaNo Brain Break for the day...

Am I the only writer who sits down to write and feels slightly guilty about the time spent? I think it may be the curse of the starving artist. Artists rarely get paid by the hour. For many authors the hours of painful struggle with a plotline become days, months, and then years spent perfecting a phrase. And sometimes I feel like I would get more done if only I didn't have to write. If only I didn't have these silly stories filling my head, if only I didn't want to polish my stories, if only I had a talent that paid up front with no effort...

There are several posts floating around the blogoshpere today about ideal books, what you would write, and the difference between urgent and important. Urgent is the toddler screaming that she needs lunch NOW. Important is making sure that same toddler knows she is loved and is inspired to seek a good life and higher education. Unimportant is the yogurt she dumped on the carpet... but sometimes priorities get confused.

Sometimes the unimportant fills my full perspective, while the urgent demands attention, and I forget the important all together.

Feeling stressed this past week I tried to define what a good day meant for me. I have a checklist of things I want done by the time I fall asleep every night. Here is the "Good" list, the list I expect as bare minimum done every day of myself:
- dishes done
- laundry washed
- floor vacuumed
- kitchen mopped
- 3 balanced meals in every belly in the house
- 1 hour excercise minimum
- walk the dog
- write 2000-3000 words
- edit one chapter
- give feedback on 2 chapters of friends work
- call the Daily Relative (they get days that I call them to say hi)
- Eldest's homework done and checked
- Several hours of game time with Youngest
- Work on home school work to supplement the school curriculum
- Handle any charity event that comes up for DH's work
- Handle any charity work that comes up for church
- Check and submit short story

.... okay... wait... I managed to stop myself there. That's what I want on a good day??? A GOOD day? Am I insane?

I gave myself a stern look and demanded, what do you expect on a better day?

Easy: All of that plus naps, dessert homemade, lunches packed for tomorrow, and time to read a book for fun.

And on the Best Days? Apparently I think I can do more?

Have you ever tried to clean house while a toddler is in residence? I promise, that's a 10 hour job right there. Unless you only want the house clean between the time the toddler goes to sleep and when she wakes up at 5am.

Writing 2-3k is several hours of work for me. Editing another hour or two on it's own. Meals take time to make right and if I actually am expected to be wrapping presents for the Santa Toy Drive or volunteering as a reader at the locals school I can't even multi-task!

So. Would I love to get that all done today? Of course! I fully expect I'm somehow going to get that all done in the next 12 hours. Because I woke up before 7, it's now almost noon, and so far I've packed two lunches, fed the dog, and written 500 words...

I do feel guilty sitting down to write because it means the three year old will have to entertain herself. I just checked, she has all her ponies and green army soldiers arrayed, either for a battle or a major ballroom dance, I can't tell. At the moment, she's oblivious to the fact that mom is working, she's content to play by herself lost in her own imagination.

The dog is sleeping. The dishes will keep until after lunch. And I think it's time to reevaluate what's important, what's urgent, and what can really be ignored from now until the end of time. Most things are GOOD. But they are things which are BETTER. And, at the end of the day, I still want to have done what's BEST.

What about you?


  1. What a fine post, Lei. It's made me think about a few things.

    Best days include about the same stuff as yours. But I only have one child, so my list doesn't seem quite as frantic. I do, however, try and maintain a photography business, so that eats up a bunch of my time, too. One of those other passions, you know?

    And no, you are not the only writer who feels guilty about writing. I do, too.

    HOWEVER, even though Hubby feels left out a lot of the time, and I'm sure Toddler thinks she has mother who is permanently attached to the computer, I feel that writing is my creative release. If I don't have it, I'd go nuts. Wait, I already am.

    Nope. Cultivating my talents. That's what all of this is.

    But I don't lose sight of urgent and important, I hope. I pray not to, anyway. And that's important and urgent, right there. :)

    November is more busy and stressful than most months, so I'm doing good so far with the balance.

    *rushes off to call her friend whose birthday was on Sunday...*

  2. You guys seriously want to mop your kitchens every single day?

    I haven't gotten my brain around that yet.

    Crazy people. :P

    Or maybe I'm in the minority that doesn't believe houses need cleaning more than once a week and a bare minimum sweeping/vacuuming/clean up/dishes (read: as necessary). %-)

    I'm sure I'll be the rebel lady of the household when I have my own home someday. %-)

    On a good day, I will write something, do a crit, read, do chores as necessary, see that my ferrets don't collapse the foundations, and do some exercise if I don't work. :P I don't have a house, kids or SO to deal with, though, so my priorities are pretty laid back. O:)

    No, I don't feel guilty writing. *shrugs* People will just have to suck it up and deal with the fact I write, and that ain't changing. :P

    ~Merc, probably the odd one out

  3. Merc- I'm not a neat freak, but I can count on juice or eggs (long story) being splattered on the floor daily and mud and grass being tracked inside by the dog and all the neighborhood kids. The floor in the living room is always a mess.

    I tried making them leave shoes at the door, but then they forget to put them back on when they go outside so I get muddy red footprints rather than shoe prints on my carpet. And we have such lovely red clay here...

    So, yes, cleaning the floor daily is necessary.

  4. Yeah, time required cleaning house increased exponentially as a factor of the number of under 10's you have in residence - including pets.

    I'm not going to make my list here, but I do know that I've been struggling lately, feeling both absolutely overwhelmed because I'm busy 24/7 and also shockingly guilty for the rare moments I take to write, or chat to friends.

    I feel simultaneously lazy and stressed, and it's not a fun combination.

    I think I shall take your advice, and make some time to sit down and work out some priorities - especially now that my work hours are about to change.

  5. *feels guilty for being cheered up*

    My house is a mess too. There's just not enough time in the day to get in all the cleaning, tot care, and writing in that I want. If something has to suffer...well...the house is suffering. :$

    Prioritizing is good. If only the hours would submit to being prioritized to fit everything in!

  6. I'm with Merc on the cleaning front! If its clean, its fine.

    Owing to health, lately I prioritise what 'has' to be done, to what I'd like to do.

    Has normally = work, japanese homework (if any), making dinner. Sometimes laundry.

    Ideally: read, write, play games, watch dvds, watch anime :)

  7. New to your blog. I have to get out of my house to write, otherwise I spend too much time picking up before writing.