by Beth Terrell
The soap opera Grandma watched when I was a child opened with a big hourglass that filled the screen. "Like sand through the hourglass," the voice-over actor intoned, "so are the days of our lives."
Remember how time used to stretch out in front of us like a never-ending landscape? Summers lasted forever. We had all the time in the world to be artists and astronauts, teachers and rodeo riders, circus performers and writers. But time is fuller than it used to be. And it seems so much shorter. In the past two weeks, when I've been working both shifts at work and dealing with the death of our beloved Tibetan Spaniel, Karma, I've also been feeling the ache of not writing.
This morning, I saw a book on my kitchen table called Time to Write by Kelly L. Stone. In it, Stone interviews more than 100 professional writers from all genres. Among them are Tess Gerritsen, Hallie Ephron , C.J. Box, Jodi Picoult, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Rick Mofina, and Rhonda Pollero. I picked up the book and flipped through it. I'd read it before, but just skimming the pages made me feel better.
The book reminded me that there are as many ways of carving out writing time as there writers. Roxanne St. Claire (Thrill Me to Death) wrote her first published novel betwwen 4:45 and 7:00 AM. Sabrina Jeffries (Only a Duke Will Do) wrote after her husband and son went to bed. Bestselling author Tess Gerritson was a physician who wrote whenever she could--"weekends, early mornings, and late nights. After I got home, as soon as the kids were put down, I'd start writing."
Jodi Picoult used to "do a little work," close her office door, and then write. (I don't advise this for anyone who actually needs his or her job!)
Life sometimes seems determined to get in the way of writing. A child needs help with a science project; a parent or grandparent is diagnosed with Alzheimer's; a big project with a looming deadline crops up at the office. It is, as my friend Christina once said, like being nibbled to death by geese. For any writer who struggles to find time for the writing amidst job obligations, family time, housekeeping (what's that?), yard work, pet care, and all the other geese life throws our way, Time to Write delivers a simple message: If you have a Burning Desire to Write, there is a way.
Today, I scribbled a few paragraphs on the back of a memo. Tomorrow, I'll scribble a few more. It's the only way to defeat the geese.