Conflict–The Not Good Kind

Last night did not go well. As anybody who’s been here for the last few weeks knows, I just began a new job on Wednesday, which puts me back to working a normal M-F 8-5 workweek. Previously I was working evenings from 5:30-9:30 and weekends, while my husband worked 7-3 M-F. This previous schedule worked out wonderfully for my writing because he was out of my hair for long stretches at a time, and I was even able to write at work frequently. Well with the new job I have lots of actual work to do, so no more writing on the job. And now he’s home when I get home and expects attention.

So as I said, last night did not go well. It took me 4 hours and 20 minutes to get my words written, between cooking and eating diner. And when I finished at 9:20, I had a really angry husband to deal with because I had “ignored” him all night. I feel I should also mention that we don’t go to bed early around here. I fully expected to be able to spend at least a couple of hours with him before hitting the hay. But that wasn’t how he saw it. We wound up not even doing the things we’d planned to do because he was in such a bad mood. We finally apologized–he for getting mad, and I for ignoring him (even though I told him on the front end that I had to get in my words for the day). But we’re not any closer to a solution to this problem.

I will still need to get my words of the day written when I get home from work. Some days that will go quickly, and others will be more like last night. This is a priority for me, period. And now its a conflict because I don’t have time away from him in which to do it. Obviously, my marriage is a priority as well. So is keeping house, doing laundry, the cooking, etc. And it will get worse once my 2 sections of general psych start on the 20th, and I have time that needs to be devoted to teaching and class preparation. I need a 36 hour day. Seeing as the earth is not about to change its rotation in my honor, I’ve got to come up with some sort of solution.

Previously I would work in the living room, at least physically present. But that left him mad because he’d try to talk to me and I had totally tuned him out. I thought shutting myself in my office would help, since he couldn’t talk to me and distract me. But our interior walls aren’t especially well insulated, so I can hear everything he says or does even with the door closed. I work so much better when there are no distractions. I was all excited to have the house to myself for a few hours today while he was out helping his parents with some stuff. And he’s already called 3 times and broken my concentration.

And everyone wonders why I’m cranky today? (As if the two automated phone calls that we got between 8 and 8:30 this morning weren’t enough?)

I don’t know what the solution to this problem is. I know we’re going to have to sit down and talk about it. And I know he will continue to pay lip service to supporting my writing (and he DOES support what I’m doing)–but I have a feeling that he means so long as it doesn’t take away from time with him. Which would be a death knell to my daily writing. And he does NOT understand that when I say I have to write 500 words a day, that if I write 1000, I can’t take the next day off. Or if I miss a day, he thinks I can make it up later. Nope, that’s not how it works. The point of a daily writing goal is to keep me immersed in the story. I keeps me moving forward mentally, if not in actual words. Because when I don’t write every day, I get out of their heads and it takes forever to get back in. And that usually requires a full read-through, which also takes more time…and it’s just inefficient. Better to sit down and do it every day.

A dear poet friend of mine has a saying:

Poetry is a bitchy mistress.

The same can be said for writing fiction. I’m beginning to feel like I’m having an illicit affair with my work. And the thing that absolutely astonishes him is that I don’t feel guilty about it. Instead of apologizing, I am apt to defend my work habits. Which all makes him feel like he takes a backseat to my work. Which is a valid concern, I suppose. But damn! Of course I would rather be working on my book than watching some stupid t.v. show and not actually interacting with him (because this is often what hanging out means in our house). And this is reason #586 for why I am not ready for children. Because that will cut down on my already incredibly limited time to write.

So, anyway, as I said, I don’t know what the answer is, and I have a feeling we’ll be having a family conference about it this weekend because I want this settled. I want something accepted and set in stone so that he doesn’t get pissed at me for doing exactly what I have said I am going to be doing.

I am completely open to suggestions. How do the rest of you juggle family, the work that pays the bills, and your writing?

5 thoughts on “Conflict–The Not Good Kind

  1. Er…um…I got nothin’. You know that I try to write when everyone else is in bed. That does and does not work for me in that I don’t always know when that’s going to be, and sometimes, inspiration or know, I just get too sleepy to write anything decent by the time I get the chance. And sometimes it means I get 4-6 hours sleep. But you know that the main part of my job is plucking Spider-Toddler off the walls and trying to keep plush toys out of the toilet, and when I fail at that, it’s just more laundry.

    This is not to say that when I do end up putting writing ahead that I don’t get into trouble. Because I do. I guess I’m just not actually able to do it enough yet that it has much impact.

    If you’re able to turn off distractions while you’re sitting in front of the TV with your husband talking, then you ought to be able to turn them off in your office. It sounds like you’ve got one ear open to make sure he’s not calling on you, so you can jump up from what you’re doing and not be accused of ignoring him, and that’s a problem. I think that should be part of your agreement when you talk. That you get so much time in your office to work and should only expect to be bothered in case of fire.

    So from after dinner until X time or Y words, whichever comes first, you are in your office and are not expected to come to the phone, answer dumb-ass questions about where he put his own stuff, or talk about whether or not there’s a spare jar of peanut butter. Everything waits until X:00pm. After X:00pm, you won’t come out if you’re not finished, but he’s allowed to interrupt to ask dumbass questions or ask you to do something with him.

    The other thought I had is that if we’re working together at that time, that we should be stricter with ourselves about staying on topic.

  2. It isn’t easy to get a non-writer to understand the importance of a daily writing practice. There must be a way to juggle both his needs and yours. At least one night a week he could have a boys night out. Perhaps, he could get involved in some hobby or creative outlet. It isn’t easy to set boundaries with someone you love and live with. If you could rent some seperate space that might help or apply for a grant or residency where they give you a writing space. Good Luck!


  3. I don’t know how people like you do it. I”m retired so I don’t have a regular job and I still have gaps in writing Fiction. Fiction is all I write except on the blog. I have an agent working on getting a publisher for my book, but it’s really tough for a Fiction author to get published the first time.

    Your blog is the best one I’ve seen on writing fiction.
    My book, Deadly Delusion, is available in excerpts on my blog.

  4. Wow! Thanks! I try to put a lot of thought into writing useful and/or interesting posts, so it’s nice to know that someone appreciates it!

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