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e_moon60

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Saturday Already??? [Dec. 11th, 2010|11:31 am]
e_moon60
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[Current Mood |awake]

A writer's life is not bound by the same work conventions as others...it's not a M-F job unless you're one of the very unusual, perfectly organized writers (I know one or two.   I am in awe, but I don' t have time to be in awe very long, so...moving on...)    Depending on deadlines, illnesses, etc, etc., etc., most of us seem to work very long hours and every day of the week...or close to it.

So not realizing it's Saturday already is normal.   Unless I have an event scheduled, Monday-through-Saturday is all the same, dawn (or before) to midnight (or a little after.)    Not all sitting at the keyboard (sometimes, but not always)...there's cooking, laundry, cleaning, shopping,  and the business side of writing (correspondence, phone calls, etc.)   If I'm not sick (or too far behind on a book)  Wednesday evenings and Sundays are taken up with choir.  Sometimes, when we have a big performance coming up, that includes some other rehearsals as well.

Toward the end of a book--and esp. with a rapidly advancing deadline--the days blur into one another, the divisions and position in the week meaningless.   I creak out of bed (the sounds of older bodies rising are very like the sound of older trees dropping small limbs and dry leaves--crackling, crunching, rustling, thumping.)    Stagger in to turn on the computer, hoping the leg that fell asleep because I didn't wiggle enough during the night will wake up soon.  Brush teeth, hobble out to the kitchen to fix cereal and take morning meds.  Hobble a little less back to see if the computer's ready yet.  (No.  though technically much faster than the old machine, it takes as long to be useful because of all the wonderful (!) software that must be waked, checked, and connected one to another.)  

This is work I chose to do, so I'm not actually complaining...it takes as long as it takes to write a book, and I want to write books, so...that's just a fact writers must come to grips with, the same as people wanting to be farriers coming to grips with what this means to their backs, day after day of bending over with a horse leg clamped between their knees while they trim and shoe.  But it does mean losing track of time, of days of the week, and numbers within the month, because the writer's head (this writer's head, at least) is deep in the book being written, living alongside of, and within, all the characters.   Very much not in this world.   

But somehow it got to be Saturday, when my temporal faculty was still stuck in Tuesday (it's been stuck in Tuesday all week, because had I not been behind on the book, and sick for several weeks of November, I'd have been singing MESSIAH with my choir and the Austin Symphony on Tuesday--the date had been stuck in my brain very firmly since summer.)  So on Tuesday night, I was working on the book with most of my brain, while one small part was doing a White Rabbit imitation over in the corner, jumping up and down and saying "Late--late--late--too late--they've started--" and I was trying to shut it up.   I put Rachmaninoff on the player (very un-MESSIAH-like, Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto) and worked until sometime after midnight, when I fell into bed  I've missed, of course, all the big MESSIAH rehearsals, and I've also missed singing with the choir at services (coughing your lungs out on your fellow singers just before and during the holiday season is not appreciated and besides, my voice was nothing anyone would want to hear in between the coughing fits.)  So that further extended the temporal disconnect.

It's Saturday already.   The book is waiting.  All the chapters are laid out in a row, and deep combing has dealt with most of them.  Gaps are marked for filling.   I've been up since dawn and will be up until the brain shuts off, whenever that is.  

Just in case anyone thought "Oh, it's easy, you just crank them out in a few weeks."   Some (lucky!! talented!!) writers have minds like that.  Not me.   And--if you haven't already discovered that you're one of the fast-writing fraternity--probably not you, either.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: whswhs
2010-12-11 05:45 pm (UTC)
I experience similar issues as a copy editor, a job that is almost entirely freelance now. My personal tag for it is, "The boss is always there, saying, 'You could be making money.'"
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:34 am (UTC)
I'm sure anyone who freelances out of their house has some of the same issues.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:37 am (UTC)
Good luck on your writing! When in crunch mode, as I am now, I try not to look at anything online until the first rush of writing is settling down and I'm sure I have traction for the rest of the day. Between books, I can go online first. (Actually I do check email and for urgent things from editor, agent, close friends, but allow only 20 minutes for that--and then it's "into the book.")
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[User Picture]From: martianmooncrab
2010-12-11 06:56 pm (UTC)
Without the structure of a regular job, the days just escape me.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:38 am (UTC)
But do they escape you pleasantly?
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[User Picture]From: martianmooncrab
2010-12-12 03:26 am (UTC)
I try.
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:38 am (UTC)
School schedules keep a lot of people oriented to date and time.
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[User Picture]From: made_of_paradox
2010-12-11 07:30 pm (UTC)
That Rachmaninoff concerto was one of the things I listened to the most frequently my junior and senior years of high school.

Yes, very un-MESSIAH-like. Very good for doing history homework, for some reason.

I know what day it is partly because my kids' lives give me the structure. My daughter knows what day it is when she wakes up because, well, she does. (The first test to make sure she's not sick is, ask what the date is. When the groggily muttered number comes out, she's passed the first test.)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:33 am (UTC)
One of the things about not having a kid in school (or homeschooling) is that it's easy to lose track...the choir responsibilities usually anchor me, but I've been away from choir for a month now. Plenty of times I don't want to go to the city for rehearsal or church, but having that responsibility (and also the rewards of choral singing in this particular choir) make it worthwhile.
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[User Picture]From: litch
2010-12-11 09:58 pm (UTC)

I've come to the conclusion that having the days fade into each other, that the artificial separation of weekdays and weekends at least is not so good.

It makes Monday's much more stressful and I think it reduces productivity overall in general. I think it encourages a sort of "sprint" mentality rather than consistent "marathon". And that it encourages much more emotional volatility.

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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:31 am (UTC)
It may do for some people...we're not all wired the same, neurologically speaking.

And we change over time. What I need now, in terms of periodicity and variation, isn't the same as what I needed 20-30 years ago.
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[User Picture]From: draconin
2010-12-12 02:15 am (UTC)
My area is textbooks (high school maths & software) not fiction so obviously it's not the same, but I do tend to find that the time to complete a book is heavily dependent on how much I enjoy using the product itself; how enthused I am about writing on the subject. Is there a parallel for you? Or do you not begin a book unless you are already enthused about it?
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2010-12-12 02:28 am (UTC)
So far, I've written books I wanted to write, so I don't think enthusiasm for the project is a factor in how long it takes...though other psychological/emotional factors can definitely slow things down: worry about a family member, conflicts in other venues, illness, other responsibilities (the years I was home-schooling our autistic son, the writing itself had to be done in fairly short intervals during the day) and so forth.

The work itself: complexity of the fictional universe, complexity of the story (both characters and plot), the length of the work and other work-connected factors, also impact how long it takes. The first and last book of a multi-volume story arc often go faster than the middle volumes, because each "bookend" volume has to connect to the rest on only one end. The others require me to think beyond the immediate volume in two directions (back to the previous, for continuity I know about, and forward to the next, for continuity that must be built from scratch)...and create an internal story arc within that volume that supports the long story arc of the whole.
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[User Picture]From: moonsinger
2010-12-13 03:12 am (UTC)
I'm about to finish writing a series, and I'm hoping to put together a package to find an agent for book one. I have two school age kids (sort of one goes to special ed for about two hours a day), so I write when they're at school. Weekends are free time. I try to put in 2 hours a day at least. It may be fun to write, but it is hard work to do it right. I would imagine it is pretty rough since you were sick and the deadline was looming in the distance.
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[User Picture]From: 90sbondgirl
2010-12-14 03:45 am (UTC)
Oddly, medical transcription is another career where it's very easy to lose your days/dates. So often I've spent the day typing notes from 2 to 5 days old, and when I come up for air, I've forgotten what the "real date" is. Which sometimes causes problems.

Yes, having a child in school definitely enforces awareness of at least Monday through Friday; this summer our lives were bounded by Saturday track meets and midweek practices.

And being effectively self-employed, yes "the boss" is always making noises about how much I'm (not) making that day.
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