My biggest writing problem is that I never have more than a few minutes of uninterrupted time. It’s been that way ever since my husband retired.
Now, I know there are ways to reclaim time. People tell me to set boundaries, to write in a different location, etc. etc. etc.
But it’s complicated. My husband had surgery last year, and unfortunately had a lot of complications that made him medically fragile. He’s mobility-challenged, weak, and dizzy. He can’t bend over to pick things up, yet he’s constantly dropping things. It seems like every few minutes, he needs help with something.
With pandemic restrictions loosening, I could ask one of our kids to come over for a few hours so I could go to the library or a coffee shop to work, but hubby has let me know he would feel it an imposition on our adult children, and an abandonment by me. I may still do it someday, but I’m hesitating.
The flip side of my situation is that during the 15 days he spent in the hospital and the 70 days he was in a skilled nursing facility (the longest time we’ve ever been separated during 47 years of marriage), I could barely write at all. I was grief-stricken and worried. All I wanted was him home again. None of us knows how much time we have with our loved ones; what a shame it would be to waste a moment we could spend together. This is a season of my life when my writing has to take a back seat.
There was a time in my life when all five of my children were in school full time and my husband had a full time job and I was the mother-at-home. Most days I had several undisturbed hours to write, and sometimes I lost myself in the phenomenon writers call “flow”—a mystical state where you are so focused that you see the scene unfolding around you, and the words pass through you onto the page in a sustained period of productivity. Sigh. I miss those times. I forgot what flow was like, but recently I almost experienced it again, and then I was interrupted.
In the YouTube trailer for her writing MasterClass, Joyce Carol Oates says, “The great enemy of writing isn’t your own lack of talent; it’s being interrupted by other people. Constant interruptions are the destruction of the imagination.” If you are jolted out of your flow, it can take nearly half an hour to get back into it.
In the meantime, I’m writing in the brief snatches of time I have. I know it is possible to write a book by writing in short bursts every day. I’ve even read a book about it. Short bursts work even better on short projects: blog posts, book reviews, poems, short stories. But I pray that someday I can return to the flow state.