I’ve been thinking about fantasy this morning. Not the genre, but the act and the very particular dream I hold close to my heart. There’s nothing really rational or realistic about it, but it’s a little inner movie I like to bring out and play from time to time, like those old favorites you break out to warm you when you’re sick or feeling blue.
My fantasy is of the perfect writer’s life for me.
My day would begin somewhere between 7:30 and 9 in the morning, after I’ve gotten a full 9-10 hours of sleep (stop snickering, this is my fantasy, remember?). I’d get up, pull on my favorite, snuggly, spa style bathrobe that feels like you’re wrapped in a teddy bear, and go make my first cup of tea. This I would enjoy in the silence of my empty house as I check my email and various blogs I follow and do a quick chat check-in with Pot on what our goals are for the day. Following that, I’d indulge my dogs in a 2 or 3 mile walk (in my fantasy, we live somewhere that’s way better for walking than our present neighborhood where we have to worry about being hit by cars), come home and shower and dress before whipping up a quick breakfast and settling in at my computer with a second cup of tea.
I’d write straight through, uninterrupted until my stomach told me it was time for lunch. Then I’d check in with Pot again for updates on our progress, figure out what was going to be for dinner and pull out whatever was necessary from freezer and pantry. Then it would be back to work until about 4 PM, when I’d stop writing for the day and switch over to whatever book I was reading at the time. I’d read until DH got home from work, go for a second walk with him, fix supper, and spend a nice companionable evening together before going to sleep for that full 9 or 10 hours again.
There would be no demanding boss, no irrational phone calls from my mother, no solicitation calls, nothing to juggle but the basics of exercise, food, writing, and–I suppose–housekeeping. Nah, this is my fantasy. There’s a maid once a week to do that.
My real life bears absolutely no resemblance to that fantasy.
Instead of that lovely, slow start to my day where I get to wake up slowly after adequate sleep, I’m usually up during the week at 5:15 for our first walk of the day (we can only squeeze in 1.5 miles before DH has to get ready for work). Then I fix his lunch while he’s in the shower and sit down to check that email and those blogs, or if I happen to be conscious enough, do some plotting or a bit of writing. DH is out the door by 6:50 (has to be at work at 7), then I hit the shower and begin the very finely tuned routine that has me fixing tea and breakfast and sitting back down by 7:20 with scrambled eggs, toast, and tea (already dressed for the day unless laundry isn’t out of the dryer yet). In the next 40 minutes, I try to kick my brain into gear to plot or write whatever I can as I finish breakfast. Then it’s the rapid brushing of teeth, application of makeup, and putting the dogs out as I jet to get to work by 8:15 (we’re laid back up here about that…my boss usually isn’t in until 8:30).
Then there’s the rapid check of email for all the classes I teach, the dealing with whatever student crises have arisen in a manner which doesn’t involve questioning their alleged intelligence or capability (which is often a challenge), then on to whatever is on the plate for the Evil Day Job. I jet home for lunch at 11, scarf something, maybe start supper (I love my crock pot), jot down whatever I can, back to work at 12. Check in with students again. More Evil Day Job in the afternoon. Over the course of the day, I add whatever I can to the words or outline for the day. Then it’s home by 5:15, more supper preparation, second walk of the day. Have supper ready by 6:15 or so, as I’m usually ready to gnaw my arm off, I’m so hungry. Then it’s grading and more dealing with students as DH and I watch the evening line up of TV. There’s no more silence for the remainder of the night, even if I were to disappear to my office (tiny house, thin walls), so if I haven’t made my word quota for the day, I’ll try to get it in around the grading and the TV and attempting to actually engage with my spouse so that he doesn’t divorce me on grounds of ignoring him all the time. Then it’s to bed by 10 or 10:30 for a piddly 6.5 or 7 hours of sleep. And that’s not counting the days I need to get the housework or grocery shopping or laundry done. By the end of all of it, I tend to feel more like this.
My fantasy life this is not.
Recent events in my life have made me realize how very very stressed I am. It’s starting to take a toll. I have an enormous amount of stuff on my plate and, sadly, absolutely nothing can go. The jobs are necessary to pay things off and further my professional development such that I might, someday, be able to teach online full time (which would be far more conducive to some semblance of that fantasy writer’s life). The exercise is necessary for my health. And the writing…the writing is necessary for my sanity. I’m happier doing it than not. It is the thing that I want to do for a living (though I am realistic enough to know that I am not likely to be able to do that and that alone). I’ll never get anywhere near that fantasy life if I don’t keep writing, keep reading, keep moving forward with my passion, despite the stress of juggling everything else. It won’t be like this forever. We’re closing in on some goals (like DH finishing school, getting debts paid off, etc.), and once those are met, I can toss some of the other things.
My challenge is figuring out how to maintain the balance until that time comes.
I know what you mean about balance. I’m floundering myself. I used to have good, healthy writerly habits. I used to wake up at six, see the kids off to school and write until five. Now it’s snatch and grab with insomnia thrown into the mix. I have to get back to some semblance of creative sanity. Right now my writing time has no discipline or structure to it. I think that puts me at a definite disadvantage production-wise.
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