Time to Work

I have a problem. It’s called school.

My daughter is enrolled in kindergarten in one of the local public elementary schools. It’s a terrific place. The teachers are wonderful, dedicated professionals. The principal is new this year, and he seems very engaged. The building is lovely and well-maintained. The playgrounds and soccer field are in great shape. And all of this is FREE. It’s amazing. So what’s my problem?

Well, my main problem is that the place is closed a lot of the time. Last week, we had an entire week of half days. This week, Monday was off. Next week, Monday is off. The school day only lasts until 2:50, so my daughter’s after school care is a bunch of activities that I have cobbled together. This afternoon’s plan was canceled at the last moment, and now my afternoon is shot, work-wise.

When I first became a full-time writer, one friend (now former friend) asked me, “So—what does that mean? That you’re a housewife now?” Others simply assumed that I would constantly be available for lunch, or afternoon breaks, or yoga class. But the truth about being a full-time writer is that nobody is paying you to sit around and do nothing. Either the work gets done, or it doesn’t. People often ask me how I carve out time for writing. This is not a question for a professional writer. We carve out time for working the same way that lawyers, doctors, welders, waitresses, bankers, and teachers do. We go to work.

Most of the professional writers I know are fanatical about protecting their time. Even if you are someone who wants to write a little, once a week, just for the joy of it—you still have to protect that time. When you make your own schedule, sometimes the minutes and hours disappear, and you never get them back.

So I’m working with the school situation. I used to write in the morning, take a break, then write until 4. That no longer works, most days. Instead, I wake up at 5:30 to get a jump on the day. I’m figuring out how to have a productive 9-2:50 workday. At least I have flexibility; I can choose to work Saturday instead of Thursday. I have no idea how other parents—ones who have to be somewhere from 9 to 5—are keeping their jobs.