Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Fricassee

Arrrrrr! Tomorrow be Speak Like a Pirate Day.

Call me a dork if ye must, ye scurvy dogs, but I be in love with all things pirate!

(Okay, so maybe the Facebook pirate language setting is a bit beyond me. I mean, there are some hard core pirate speakers out there!)

So I'd like to thank those of you who came crawling from the woodwork yesterday to say, "Oh, yes! I know exactly what it feels like to want life to go away so that I can write."

I felt...vindicated. Affirmed. Less oddball-y.

Thanks for that.

The downside is that it's making me irritable. It's not remotely possible for me to forsake everything in order to satiate my need to write, to get this work DONE.

I do have a marriage to hold together, after all. And, sure, Mr. A is uber-supportive. Awesome, even. I couldn't succeed without him.

But I think he appreciates my undying attention every once in a while.

So, then. Here's what I'd like you to share today (in excellent pirate prose, if ye dare!): How do you find BALANCE during the times when your muse is in overdrive? How do you avoid killing relationships, forgetting to feed your family, getting fired from your job, or whatever it is you are longing to put on the back burner for the sake of your poised quill?

Do tell! Because if I don't snap out of this soon, Mr. A will be doomed to dirty underwear and an empty belly. And the girlfriend who has been trying to snag me for lunch? She's bound to give up at some point.

I'm all ears!


  1. Actually it be t'morrow. But no harm startin' early.

  2. The real answer is you can't balance it all.

    What helps: a laidback spouse.

    What also helps: learning to write in the same room when the Patriots or the Yankees are on TV.

  3. There is no graceful way to achieve balance when you're married to a non-writer and you have an elementary school child. Something will suffer.

    Since I COULD ignore my husband but I CAN'T ignore my child, it's my writing. But I still TRY to write a bit every night. And even though I grit my teeth (isn't a freely-flowing MS more seductive than a highly-skilled lover?) I try to make it a point to do things with the hubby.

    For instance, he's a big football fan. He's already asked me to spend Sunday evening with him watching the game. Laptop not invited.

    I'm halfway through a tough first draft. Saturday I'll spend grocery shoppping and otherwise hunting and gathering because I work a dayjob all week. Sunday evening could be the time I spend catching up on my writing.

    But in deference to marital bliss, I won't. I'll be watching that @#$% football game.

    And Authoress, I'm usually a lurker, but I did want to say that your Secret Agent contests are tres helpful to me -- I love the fact that I can check agent reactions to my genre (and writing similar to mine). I've made several surprise additions to my query list -- and stricken a few names off, because I saw that, if they didn't like Jane Doe's writing, they probably wouldn't like mine. You're performing a valuable public service to agents and writers alike!

  4. Ye must, at times, belay the writing and acquiesce to the requests, spoken or not, of yer mates.

    Ye can run a tight ship if ye get yer sails rigged and yer course set for a specific desination. There be a time for everything, and ye need to allocate it properly. A battle at sea is not won by cannons alone. There's a wee bit of thinking and planning involved, getting your ship in the right position to be at an advantage. Making sure the powder is dry and the spark is bright.

    Prioritize, determine your activities required and their durations and set yerself up a time schedule for each and every task.

    And that's all the pirate talk I can muster on a Friday.

    Good luck. Plan, Do, Check.


  5. Arr.

    Give yer neglected matey to yer lonely galpal.

    They can walk the gangplank together and avast, ye landlubbers!

    Yer problem is solved.


  6. When I hit my stride like you have lately, I begrudge everyone the time they force me away from it ... but force me they manage. It helps that my kids are pushy pre-schoolers who don't know the meaning of "five more minutes" and my husband is an equally pushy personality. By which I mean it helps with relationships and remembering to feed the family. Writing has to come second to them most days and that's just something I've made peace with a long time ago.

  7. Facebook English (Pirate Mode) is absolutely hysterical. I switched to that mode earlier this week for a few days - too funny.

    As for balance, I think that life is always about balance. We balance our jobs with what we really want to do. We balance our needs and desires with the needs and desires of our other halves (who worship the quicksand we walk upon).

    Lately, I've tried to not start writing in the evenings until my beloved other half leaves for work. Yes, it's a sacrifice, the words are just pounding inside my head screaming - release me, release me, release me. I let them pound away until I send beloved out the door. Then, it's all about me and the many voices in my head.

    So, figure out some compromise. On the weekends, cook a few different meals each day to just reheat during the week. I do this a lot since there's not always a lot of time to cook during the week. So, I make 2 dinners on Saturday, and 2 on Sunday, we eat one, and the each day, and the others are for later in the week.

    Laundry - put a load in, write away, stop, put load in dryer, write, stop, hapazardly fold cloths, complain about not having good help if Mr. A says something about wrinkles, and write away.

    You'll figure out the balance. We all do at some point. : )

    Arrrr, ahoy there, mateys.


    p.s. another coworker and I both switched to pirate mode on the same day, we were quite amused. Well, she came over and was telling my both something, and you could tell my boss was about to start venting, and, well, sometimes I just can't stop myself, said 'thar she blows'. Oh, how we laughed, even my boss when she figured out why we were laughing. : )

  8. I consider balance to exist over months and years, not days and weeks. There'll be lots of selfless times ahead and have been many behind. If I'm in writing mode, I figure it's my turn. For a while. It's not like writing mode goes on nonstop for years. All too soon it blows itself out and I'm back to ironing socks.

    Okay, not true. I have never ironed a sock and never will. I've actually given up ironing altogether as I loathe and despise it.

    But I do hold on to my right to surrender to the writing demon when it visits. It's MINE.

  9. More ways to cope:

    Have lunch with the girlfriend who keeps calling... but tell her you're buying, plus you're bringing Chapter One ("It's just a draft! I want you to read it and give me constructive criticism!"). Note: this has to be a special girlfriend.

    I highly, highly, highly (is that enough "highly"?) recommend making friends with some other writers and meeting once a week. If you meet in a college library, you can usually bring coffee, or you can meet in someone's house (the risk here is they get sucked into housework, the phone, etc.). Socialize for 15 minutes and then write in silence for a minimum of 2 hours. This is quality writing time. No interruptions from your spouse, your kids, your dogs, etc. Put it on the calendar and meet once a week.

  10. Bribery works pretty well, but you gotta be careful what you promise. I've actually posted about that in my LJ.

  11. I'm blessed to have a companion who is an artist and completely understands the call of the Muse. We take time to have dinner together, but keep a pantry full of soups and a fridge stocked with cheese and bread for grilled sandwiches when we're on a roll.

    I agree with Francesca. When you look at the big picture, things generally even out.

    I'm off to visit a friend and go to a music festival this weekend. Would I rather stay home and write? You bet, particularly since I'm jazzed from a marathon writing session yesterday.

    But my story will be waiting for me when I return. I can't expect my friends to wait forever. Sure, they understand I'm engrossed. But they're busy, too. Geez, who isn't?

    Step back and take a deep breath. You'll find your balance.

  12. Ah, the tricky precipice of balance. I have kids, the husband, a job outside the home, friends, obligations. In order to balance writing when I want all that to go away is to remember that my computer will always be there. It's feelings won't be hurt if I don't make dinner. I won't have to apologize to it if I'm an hour late. It's patience is endless, it's always there, just waiting. People are not. And they deserve me just as much. PEOPLE make life worth living, not the computer. At least that's what I tell myself when I wish they would all just go away. :)

  13. Fortunately, my husband is very understanding about the NEED TO WRITE. It works out well for him because if I'm writing, I'm not watching TV, which means he can play video games until the cows come home.

    I do have a FT job after almost 2 years of PT-ness, and I'm still adjusting to the 40 hour work week plus the NEED TO WRITE. I haven't found a good balance yet. The house is in shambles and laundry piles up for up to two weeks when the husband says "I need clean underwear."

    So, um. Yeah, not sure how to help you. LOL

  14. Dang it! Not only did I think it was today as well, I thought you said speak like a parrot day. No wonder people kept looking at me funny when I was in the library this afternoon :(

  15. D. Robert Pease--thank you; I've corrected the error!

    Michael--that is BRILLIANT pirate-speak! I'm impressed. =)


    You ALL rock. =)

  16. De truble wid pirats is dat dey doon leaf room fer anyting else. Else dey lose da muse.

    Seriously, every writer has those spells when the story comes first for awhile. Hit the keyboard in spells. Set timers. Stop. Cook. Smile,hug and retreat gracefully back to the keyboard. All things pass in time.

    The worst thing that happens to me is the urge to get up when the whole world is quiet, like 3:00 in the morning, and write so I can talk the talk while I type. After a few hours, I am so ready for bed again.....too late.

  17. Yay! I'm not the only one suffering from this malady. Fortunately my kids and husband are very forgiving.

  18. Wow - I'm impressed with anyone who can generate even a smidgen of pirate-speak on a Friday!

    I love ElanaJ's and Sam's comments! Time consuming job and family mean I never get to a keyboard until at least 7pm, but it's usually more like 9:30 or 10. So I hope that's when my "I've gotta write or I'm gonna shrivel up" mood strikes. At the moment I'm still training the mood, but it's getting a bit easier to control :)

  19. I've been at this business almost thirty years. Here's my words of wisdom.

    Writing is a hobby, an avocation, or a career, but it is not a life. Real life is what matters most. You will regret it if you look up from your keyboard one day to discover life has passed you by, and the writing wasn't worth the cost.

  20. I like to bribe my husband. "If you stop talking and go into another room for the next eight hours, I'll give you a book dedication one day."

    I'm afraid you have to get rid of all your friends though. Sorry.

  21. Marilynn Byerly, thanks for your wise post.

    Yes, write, write, write. But also take time to pack up your coffee and get in the car or walk with your spouse to watch the sunset. That's the struggle of balance.
    Life goes by in a flash. All we have is today.

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  23. I really don't like schedules, but that's exactly what I have to do to get some balance. Friday evenings--100% relationship time, and the same for the rest of the weekend if needed. After dinner--blog and internet. After blogging--read. During the day when I'm not working--write. It works! For the most part.

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  25. Never really a balance. It's always a give and take. So when I'm in that writing mode, and constrained with work, hs football games, and life plans, I have a digital voice recorder. It allows me to jot down the scene evolving in my head so I don't miss how the elements come together. I speak my notes with keywords to bring out the scene as I feel it that moment. Takes five minutes, maybe ten, and I know it's all preserved. Husband and children are patient, but that's my take while I'm giving.