Saturday, February 27, 2010

Time Is Fleeting (Madness takes its toll)

Where does the time go?

Or, more appropriately, where does it come from?

I'm a writer, and if I ever hope to succeed as one, I need time to write.

I may not have much of a life, but what little I have also requires a great deal of time.

I'm a single dad, and my days can pretty much be summed up as follows:

Wake up (for the most part).

Get kids up.

Get kids fed.

Get kids dressed.

Get kids to school/day care.

Go to work.

Leave work.

Pick up kids.

Get kids home.

Feed kids (this one is kinda important).

Bathe kids (see above).

Be dad (most important of all).

Get kids to bed.

Sit down to write.

Get kids back into bed.

Sit down to try and write.

Get kids back into bed.

Sit down again.

Realize that my kids are not going to stay in bed, much less sleep.

Weep profusely.

Wake up in front of computer the next morning and start the excitement all over again.

Which presents the problem:

Where does the time to write come from?

I end up writing in stolen moments, those little scraps of time between breaths. Ideas, story elements, and sometimes entire conversations are written down in the notebook I keep with me, on receipts or envelopes, sometimes on the back of Hunter's old homework papers. I've discovered that toilet paper (oops...I mean bathroom tissue)is very difficult to write on and even harder to read from. More than a few ideas have literally gone down the drain.

When I finally do have the time to sit down and write, I stitch those little scraps of time together into a whole. A scene which takes mere moments in storytime may represent a year's worth of fragmentary moments woven together.

It works. Not as well as I'd like, but it works, and unless someone comes up with a way that I really can save time in a bottle, stolen moments are all I have.

To all you other writers out there, I'm curious:

Where do you steal your time from?

We all have lives to lead. Some of us have more available time than others, but we all need to have time to write.

Of course, I'll understand if you don't have the time to answer.

Thanks for reading my ranting,



  1. My ideas always manifest 1) on the drive to/from work and any other time I may be in the car and 2) when I'm in the shower or just falling to or waking from sleep.

    You know, pretty much anytime I can't write them down. And yes, I tried a recorder and no that does not work. The ideas disappear when I try to put them into spoken words.

    So like you, I collect throughout the day, make a mental note in my head and write them down when I have time which makes it infinitely easier to start truly writing when it is time to sit down and write. Less staring at the screen, more typing.


  2. I get a lot of ideas in the car, too. Some of them stick around long enough to get written down.

  3. I don't have kids of my that might be one way I steal time..

    Mostly, for me, what I do is two-fold. I typically write late into the night (say, 2 or 3 am) since I'm naturally a night-owl anyway, and plagued with insomnia. Might as well be doing something other than counting ceiling tiles.

    Secondly, I purposely ask for the shifts no one wants at my job. :) That is, the mid and evening shifts. So, I work late, but I get 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon to write...

    I've also learned some more...ingenious..ways to take notes. My mp3 player voice records (for ideas in the car. hehe) And, I often text myself scraps of words/sentences.

  4. I'm a night-owl too, but as I have kids that need to be up early and I have to go to work in the mornings, staying up as late as I used to just isn't an option.

  5. I noticed a major typo in one line of your rant "Be dad (most important of all)." dad is misspelled and should be Dad.

    In answer to the "Where do you steal your time from?" question, I think the simple answer is from You.

    Regarding sleep, yesterday in Sunday School, the pastor mentioned that studies show that in the 1850s adults slept an average of 9.5 hours a night. That was down to approximately 8.5 by the 1950s and down to something like 7-7.5 nowadays. He levied a challenge to everyone in our class (early to late 30 somethings) to try and get more sleep. All the parents in the class laughed at him. He's a father of 2 himself so he wasn't offended. He just suggested trying it anyway.

    Man, 7 hours a night sounds wonderful, let alone 8 or 9. I'm averaging 4.5-6 on a good night. Maybe 7 on weekends.

  6. Thank you, Rob, for pointing out my shortcomings and errors before all else.
    "The little lights aren't blinking, Clark."
    "I know, Art, and thanks for noticing."
    This is what I rely on you for.
    I agree: 7 hours of sleep would be bliss.
    As much as I love my kids, I haven't slept in nine years.

  7. Don't have kids so can't say anything!

  8. Hmmm, Brad, I can see how that could have been taken as pointing out shortcomings, but I actually meant it as a don't sell yourself short kinda comment. Not so much a "you made a mistake" kinda thing. I think being a Dad or a Mom should be at least elevated to capital letters like any other title of worth. Don't be so negative all the time dude.

  9. I know, Rob. I took it as you intended. I was just responding with my usual bit of sarcasm and self-deprecating humor.
    It's what I do.

  10. Well, I don't have kids, but I do have a demonic cat. Seriously. She doesn't let me sleep in. At 7:00am every morning she sits by my head and taps me on the nose every few seconds until I wake up and feed her. ;-)

    But, in actuality, I don't have the crazy-busy schedule of a parent so I can write until 11, 12, 1, 2am and no one is asking me for a drink of water or another bedtime story. So, I steal my writing time from the Sandman.

    Now, having the time to write it completely different from having the inspiration to write something worth reading.

  11. Hey Brad, from one single parent to another, there is a saving grace - they grow up! Mine are now 23 and 17 but I was where you are and it was not easy. I often looked up and wondered what ever gave me the idea that I could do it alone but I did, and you will too. One thing I did was when they started to get to me I gave myself a time-out instead of them. I went in my bedroom for 15 - 30 minutes(until it got either too loud or too quiet) and wrote. Even if it was about them, I found something to write down.

    As far as time, you can't steal it, you have to take from it when you can. I have a 45 min ride to and from work and I bought a tape recorder (with real tiny tapes) to record whatever comes to mind. After realizing writing while driving is not good and memory doesn't serve completely well, the tape recorder is a great tool for reminders, scenes, and even venting. Play it back on your way home and you'll realize how brilliant you are.

    I also taped this to my fridge: "Everything is temporary - this too shall pass."


  12. 1 mg of liquid Melatonin. The pediatrician told me about it, boys took it for like 2 weeks, got into a routine and now go to bed and stay there. I get to write again!!! YAY ME!