My days seem to follow this general pattern currently:
Get up with the baby (anywhere from 5am to 7am). See husband off to work. Feed baby and put him down for a nap. Haul ass to make coffee and shove some sort of food down before he wakes up fussy. Hold fussy baby while I catch up on email and guzzle too hot coffee. Tech edit for work. Put baby down for a nap. Play fetch with the dogs. Shove a vacuum around my living room and get halfway through a load of laundry. Feed baby. Work on stuff for Embers. Beta read dear friends’ book. Oh crap, it’s 3pm? Better eat “lunch.” Cook dinner—get interrupted cooking dinner by crying baby. Husband comes home and takes over baby duty. Finish dinner. Wolf down dinner before baby wakes up wanting to eat. Clean up kitchen. Read for pleasure (while feeding baby). Oh right, that load of laundry is still in the washer—throw it in the dryer. Make grocery list while on the verge of sleep. As soon as baby’s down, I’m down, subconsciously waiting for the first evening feed at about 2am. Repeat the next day.
This is my chaos. My beautiful, blessed, God-given chaos. What’s your chaos? Maybe it’s college, maybe it’s a 9-5 that turned out to be a 9-all hours of the night and Saturday too. Perhaps you’re dealing with health issues, or someone you love needs your constant care. Maybe you’ve got four kids and all you want, for the love of all things shiny, is to sleep. My advice? Embrace your chaos. Because it’s within this chaos, dear writer, that you write.
It’s in this chaos that you write not just to-do lists and birthday cards—write your stuff, the stories you’re compelled to tell. But where’s the time, man?! Is it not nuts to think we can find the time to write, and write well? Yes, it’s a little nuts, but that’s the nature of chaos. Embracing the crazy is far more preferable than viewing yourself as its victim. Personally, I’m under no illusion that if I just wait a few years, then ___ will happen and then I’ll have time to write. I can’t afford to think “I’ll write when I’m less busy,” because that’s foolishness. I’ll never be less busy, not really. Right now will always be an inconvenient time to write, because any stretches of convenient time disappeared many years ago when I took the red pill and tumbled down the rabbit hole into adulthood.
And you know what? All that chaos is pretty damn motivating—the baby’s starting to stir, so write faster woman! Fly words, FLY! Even if on some days I only fit in one new sentence or edit one paragraph, that’s something. I may not even get anything on paper, but I’m writing, unseen to all. When I’m at the dentist, sitting in that great, plastic-covered recliner waiting to get my teeth scraped, I don’t need a magazine. Sweeping for the tenth time this week is not a brainless activity. Shower time, brief though it may be, is put to use. How? Writing begins in the mind. In these seemingly insignificant patches of time, plot points of my novel are running through my head, I’m formulating a list of magazines I want to submit my work to next month, I’m wondering why on Earth the word “splendiferous” is stuck in my head and if I should use it in a short story. All this in the midst of my chaos. Like Murphy in The Boondock Saints when all hell’s breaking loose, he throws up his hand and exclaims with vigor, “All right, I love this shit!”
And that’s the attitude we must have, writers. Not only writers, but any person who continues to put off the doing, using the “when I ___, THEN I’ll learn piano, or start my own business, or go back to school, or take a vacation.” No more can we use the “when, then” reasoning. It’s folly. And in doing so, you give the chaos power over you instead of you over it. Instead of riding the chaos dragon, you cower behind your shield as it breathes fire. No more.
Stand on the bow of your chaos ship in the churning waves, throw your head back, and let the sea spray soak your smiling face. Shout with reckless abandon as you plunge once more unto the breach, dear friend. Let your creative endeavor—be it writing, art, music, etc.—be fueled and motivated by the sources of insane inspiration that currently comprise your life. Snatch those slivers of time to write as if they were flashes of light, because they’ll disappear as such. Carve out more time to create, even if it feels like you’re digging through bedrock with your bare hands, busting fingernails to get it. You know why? Because we love this shit.
By Madeleine Mozley