Tick, Tock

My boss seems to hate my writing.

This is what I picture. Yes, that's you, Mr. Manager. Image via the all-knowing icanhascheezburger.com

At least, when I look at the schedule for the next ten days, it feels that way. No, no. I don’t really  think he sits there writing the schedule, drumming his fingertips together and grinning in malicious glee as he schedules me seven shifts for the upcoming week, but that’s what happened anyway.

And today, I have to be at work at 4, which is in a little over two hours. I’ll be there till about 3 a.m. and then return at 11:30, and I will remain there until 11 at night. So when am I going to write?

The point of this isn’t to bemoan my schedule or to violate the terms of the “Acceptable Social Media Usage” section of my employee handbook — the point is that all writers have scheduling issues. All of us have families, friends, commitments, puking dogs and/or children, car trouble, a significant other who missed the bus, late shifts at work, and precious, precious moments to be used writing.

That’s precisely why the monsters in yesterday’s post are so insidious — they infect our shining treasure that is time.

If you’re anything like me, you would rather spend your days just writing. You probably slump a little bit each time a large bill or rent is due, wishing you could hand your landlord or Verizon a completed section of your novel in lieu of a check. But for most of us at this stage, it doesn’t work that way.

Put the time in the bowl. And we won't have a problem. Image property of Tristar Entertainment.

We stare out into the quickly ticking clocks of the world asking if we could just have some more time. Time won’t wait for us. We have to make it do what we need it to. Which brings me today, as that blasted clock keeps moving closer to 4.

I have about forty chapters of novel to organize and revise, and less time to do it in. Which means I have some decisions to make. Home is a comfortable place, and my desk chair is decidedly not. It hurts my butt and strains my neck, which makes me all too apt to stay in my living room on our cloud-like bed sofa. The problem is that my computer has been effectively turned into a desktop because the battery is like an alcoholic in withdrawal. If I unplug it, it gets the shakes, it moans, and then it shudders and passes out.

Because of that, here I am at my cluttered desk, looking at a prescription bag, a hefty pile of notebooks and books, a rainbow flag someone gave me at D.C. Pride a couple years ago, and a sheet of Toy Story stamps half-obscured by a CVS bag. My husband hates this room. My desk has never been an organized place.

In spite of its foibles, this is where I need to will myself to be for the next several weeks. I am committed to making something happen in January with my novel, whether an agent asks me to send her a query or simply tells me to scrap the idea. Something to move me forward.

It’s that commitment that sets me in a race against the ticking of the clock. It’s the drive to write set against Einstein — we all know that it ticks faster when there’s work to be done and a deadline to meet. And so, gentle viewers, today I want to ask you to take on the clock with me.

How many of you struggle to get your word count goals or revision goals finished with your schedule? How many of you feel like the clock is always set against you? For the month of December, this is my challenge: to create a polished product to present to agents. Yours is probably a different goal, and you might well whine at me for making this a December thing. It’s the holiday season — believe me, I know there are other demands on your time in addition to your normal schedules.

That’s why it’s a challenge, isn’t it?

I have an hour and a half to get ready for work, to eat something, and to format a few more chapters into Scrivener. I’m going to challenge myself. Will you?

Let’s show that clock (and December) who’s boss.

Like this guy. For realsies. Own this image like Chartoff-Winkler Productions does. Be the image.


About Emmie Mears

Saving the world from brooding, one self-actualized vampire at a time.

Posted on December 3, 2011, in writing business, writing process and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Emmie, were you peeking over my shoulder or something? LOL you know I struggle with this. Having worked extensively in the restaurant industry, I remember the holidays. Blearily, through an exhausted haze, because I felt like I was working 24/7. That is the hazard your run when you’re dependable, too–note the slackers probably didn’t get nearly so many shifts, because they can’t be counted on. But lemme guess, Emmie’s trustworthy, prompt, and pleasant? 😉 Shazam (that’s my new word, by the way): tons o’shifts.

    Sigh…I have so much to do it’s just mind-numbing. I work an 8-hour shift for the hotel 6 days per week, although to be fair, I can get a lot of work done between the constant interruptions, er, clients. Then there’s the 4 kids, and my freelance writing stuff. My personal writing is taking a backseat…nay, it’s in a trailer dragged behind the car. But it will get better. I’m working out the schedule. Every day, I’m taking some time to do something of my own, even if it’s a morsel of time snatched between checking people in and out and making dinner. If I can do it, you can, too! Super Woman!

    And I, too, have a laptop that has a bad battery–PLUS, the cord is bad, too, I have to keep the little boxy-thing (what the heck is that, anyway??) level and with the cord at the just-right curvature, or it doesn’t work. I’m hoping Santa or an angel decides to gift me with another one before this one just decides to cough, roll over, and die.

  2. Kristin McFarland

    Ugh, I can feel my clock ticking. TICK TICK TICK, “You have a job interview at a Big 10 University on Monday,” TICK, “You have a huge novel that needs revising, starting yesterday,” TICK, “You have a wedding to plan that you’re ignoring,” TICK, “You need to start researching agents,” TICK, “You’re getting the title of liturgist in a month, and that’s a big deal,” TICK, “You need to go clean up your kitchen!” … you get the idea.

    And I’ll get to all that. Tonight I’ll clean up the kitchen, on Monday I’ll dazzle at the interview, and next week, I’ll (gulp) starting editing The Big One.

    The funny thing is, November made me eager for more, not ready for a break. I WANT to charge in and get the first novel to the state I want it to be in. I WANT to polish the second one, send it off, and succeed like Kim Harrison. (Okay, that one’s a pretty big want.) So I’m with you. Let’s ride December like Santa driving the reindeer.

    Okay, that was creepy. Time to go clean my kitchen.

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