08 August 2008

The hardest but most important word for writers

I'm one of those people who hate saying No to people, so I hate it when people come asking for favours. Often it's because I work part-time -- so obviously I have a lot of free time on my hands. I don't. I'm currently teaching 0.6, but have taken on an online subject, which I guess makes me 0.8. When I was 0.4, my husband reckoned I did the same work as a full-time worker, which some weeks would be an over-exaggeration, but on marking weeks would be an under-exaggeration. I go to a writing group one afternoon a week and have stuff I have to do for them. I have home commitments (as most of us do), and writing commitments. Other people don't get that.

Writing commitments -- what are they? Surely, writing is that stuff you squeeze into your spare time -- and other people see their pulls on my time as more important than anything squeezed into spare time. Sorry, but they're not. Today, I had an email from someone who wanted me to look over a chunk of manuscript. Writing related, sure, but I had to say no. It made me feel rotten -- truly -- but I'm not getting enough time for my novel at the moment, and that *has* to be my priority. 

For others, other people (or tasks) demand time for less writerly reasons. It might be the neighbour -- whose concerns and needs are genuine. It might be a mother or father, a cousin or aunt. It might be the man in the butcher's shop, or the girl you see by the lake. In the end it's up to us: we have to decide whether we want to write or not. 

A few years ago, Robin Hobb spoke at a Melbourne SF convention. In her Guest of Honour speech she said something along the lines of: you will never have more time to write than now. If you put off your writing until you retire, or until your neighbour moves out or whatever, you won't write because there will always be new demands on your time. If I got nothing else out of that con, it was worth going just to hear that. It's one of the great truths of writing. Write it down and stick it by your computer and then think about what you want to be at the end of day. Do you want to be a writer or not? If you do, you need to make time, not excuses.


Leah-Mae's Scribbles said...

Hiya Tracey,
Thanks for the advice again, Deja Vu!
My English teacher rather gingerly hinted around the edges of my writing getting in the way of my school work -last thing i expected from the english teacher-

and something very similar came unbidden to my mouth.

...though you explained it much better than i did!

Ta, Leah-Mae.

Tracey said...

Thanks, Leah-Mae,

Doesn't your English teacher understand that your writing is going to help your English? Still, from the teacher's viewpoint, I know with my students I get frustrated if they don't do set tasks, because I know what I want them to learn from them (mind you, mine are writing based), and they don't always see it. So, maybe, you need to find some kind of compromise... Just a thought! And hopefully you can find room for both.


Leah-Mae's Scribbles said...

ta for the advice,

Cheers, Leah Mae!