Monday, October 6, 2008

Livin' La Vida Loca

And whose life isn't crazy, right? At least some of the time, and too often a lot of the time? But I've stepped up to a new level of insanity that is "new" for several reasons: (1) I can't opt out of any of this responsibility. A number of family decisions (mainly involving my mother's affairs) are simply on my shoulders and must be made and carried out in mucho detail (as long as there's a Spanish flavor to this post :)). (2) This has gone way beyond multi-tasking. This is multi-layered multi-tasking, in which even those things I'm putting off are things that can't be put off. You know what's scary? I don't even have small children anymore. Although, speaking of my mother, she was right: You don't concern yourself one iota less when they're grown. In fact, once they take on jobs, spouses, mortgages, and children of their own, you experience that much more "walking around with your heart outside your body," as somebody once summed up parenting.

Billy Graham was asked what he found to be the biggest surprise of life. His answer was, "The brevity of life is the biggest surprise." I would agree. But, thus far, I have to add that another big surprise is that the decade of my 50s is the most chaotic I've yet had, much more so than, say, my 30s. (And my 40s was the most fun.)

Okay, not everything I said in point 2 is quite true. I have put off some things that can be put off. Like reading. For a writer, reading isn't optional, of course. So it's not like I'm jettisoning some hobby here. I don't have any mere pastimes; for the most part, as an adult I've not had the luxury of being able to "pass" time. I haven't watched TV since Murder, She Wrote went off the air. :)

But the cheese gets more binding, as my grandma used to say: I'm not writing, either.

The irony that I am blogging but not writing is not lost on me. I think it's that I'm trying to keep my public act together as much as possible -- even though my activity on boards and blogs is sketchier than it was two months ago, aided by the seemingly monthly problems with my Internet connection lately.

People often complain they don't have time to write, and I'm not horribly sympathetic with that view. Most of the time, the truth is that they're simply choosing other things. But not having the psychological space and peace to write is something else, which I've tended to address in the past by writing short stories as opposed to novels, and nonfiction as opposed to fiction. Right now I'm not sure what I'm going to do. But I've had to face that this difficult period has been going on for seven years now, and that's rather scary.

11 comments:

Tabitha said...

Wow, you weren't kidding about the parallels with our blog posts today! First the book Rash, now this! :)

So I understand perfectly where you're coming from. I don't have much sympathy for those who say they don't have time to write, either. But when circumstances take over your life, there's not much you can do about it. Carve out a minute here and there? Gets tedious. Only a major life-change could shift things, and sometimes that's not possible.

I'm looking at limited writing time for the next three years, and I'm not sure how I'll handle that... I wish you luck in your situation, and that you'll be able to delve into your stories again soon.

Anne Spollen said...

I took care of my great aunt while my children were really small (my daughter was not quite two at the time), and there is a psychological exhaustion that accompanies taking care of other people's affairs. I only published poems back then, and a few short short stories.

But I did outline novels. I used to take notes while we waited at the doctors (which we did A LOT), and when I had a few minutes, I would take notes about what I would write about when I did get some sustained time.

If it's any consolation, when you're thinking/worrying about your fiction, your mind is still at work on some level. When you do get the time, my bet is that you will be uber productive.

Marcia said...

Tabitha -- Yeah, we were kinda separated at birth. :) When my kids were little, I wrote at night from 9pm-midnight. Considering I'm not a night person, it went okay. I trust you'll find what works for you in this next season of life.

Anne -- Yes, psychological exhaustion is it exactly. And a feeling that sinking down into a fictional world "isn't safe," because you'll be yanked out at any time by somebody's need. Good point about outlining novels in short snatches. Just sharing with others is consolation. Thanks for commenting!

PJ Hoover said...

Life does seem to go in waves, with multi-tasking seeming to turn into a mountain of stuff which can never be tames.
But then it calms.

Now I'm looking forward to my 40s. I have the feeling they will be the best yet, also!

Marcia said...

Yes, and we should be grateful for waves. The thought that the waves would not ebb is pretty tough to contemplate.

I hope you'll have great 40s. :) That was when my kids were older but still far from leaving the nest, and when I had the most writing success. I'm generally one to look to the future, but those were fun days.

WordWrangler said...

Wow. You really have quite a lot on your plate. I, too, blog sometimes when I can't "write". It's a freeing experience for me.

I hope you find some time soon to just "be". Some time to bask in quietness and peace.

Hugs,
Donna

Marcia said...

Thanks, Donna! In fact, I plan to take tomorrow as just a prayer day. I need it! Sometimes writing "peripherals" -- reading, market study, blogging -- help keep you connected to writing. I'm going to try to look at it that way.

Angela said...

Marcia,
I want to let you know that I'm thinking of you and your mother.

Marcia said...

Thanks, Angela. I so appreciate it!

Patricia said...

Writing smaller things does help keep some form of writing continuity flowing. (I started a blog three days agao and I'm already getting more done.) There's a saying that we were all given 24 hours a day - Mother Theresa, Jesus, Billy Graham, Einstein, you and I, etc. Those people were either really good with multi-tasking or they had helpers! I haven't figured out a good routine for myself yet.

I, too, take care of my mother's affairs. She's in a nursing home because of dementia. I have to remember to just take a few deep breaths every once in a while when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Then I have to kick myself to get back to work. <--This from the ICL student who is once again late with her lesson!
I enjoy your blog and will be praying for you.

Marcia said...

Thanks for visiting, Patricia! And I do appreciate the prayer. I also appreciate what's NOT wrong -- as my MIL always said, "It could be worse." I'm sorry about your mother's dementia; it's hard and even frightening to watch them decline mentally.

I took a prayer/decompress day yesterday and it did wonders. When the stress really closes in, it's important to step back "in time." Meaning before you crack up, not chronologically . . . :)