Of Time

Several times of late I have seen friends of mine of the legitmate artistic variety gently chastise and push the rest of us wannabes.

If you really wanted to be an artist [of whatever variety], you’d find a way. You’d find the time.

All of us who want to be, who wish to be, who are in our hearts if not in practice, artists but are not yet — it’s a choice. It’s a time management issue. It’s too much diddling around on Facebook. Too much sleep. Too much single-tasking.

Too many excuses. 

I humbly request help, or at least some sort of guidepost. I am completely at a loss for time to fully, truly create new worlds and new people and new ways of saying the Universal Things.

My days, you see, are concentrated. I am pulled. My focus is not on Facebook or on television. I wish I could at least say my freetime focus is mostly spent reading great books. Or even terrible books. But it is not.

My body, mind, and often spirit are invaded, rented, requested, required, and demanded by my children 14 hours a day minimum. I have no sitter. I have no nanny.

I have no complaints, mind you, but I am also trying desperately to write when I can and what I can.

And sometimes that means “never” or it means “utter crap,” despite my wanting it to be “almost too much” and “things I am proud of that maybe change the world a little bit.”

Stop making excuses. Pull up your panties, Martha. 

But I write. I carry around my notepad and scribble little half-thoughts to myself. If I’m lucky I flesh those out to completion. If the stars align, I string several of those together into a little blog post, or, on a lesser day, a charming little status update. When I punt, I use Twitter. It’s not pretty and it’s not the Great American Anything. It’s hardly even the Adequately American Thought.

So guidance, please.

This sounds whiny. Are you whining? Why don’t you just grow up already? Ask your question or maybe use this time to make some art instead of whatever this is?

If I stick to writing about What I Know Now, i.e. Motherhood, will you sniff and turn up your admittedly well-versed experienced nose at the pedanticism, the orthodoxy, the commonality, the simplicity of it?

It’s just not my thing. I’m sure it’ll get readers, but is it art? Is it saying anything? Or are you just looking for validation of your choice to get knocked up and keep it? Now, Shakespeare, he knew how to write about motherhood. So did Freud. What are you contributing to that? Anything on that level, because if not, honestly, it’s probably not art and it’s definitely not something I’ll read because I don’t have kids and I don’t care and it all sounds like a goddamned Lifetime Movie to me after awhile. Cute, charming, flyover.

If I write about my lack of time, will that be taken as an excuse?

Why would anyone care about that enough to read it?

All I know are heaps these days. Laundry. Limbs. Toys. ToDo items. The books on my nightstand and floor and desk waiting to be read. My own body on the couch at 8:30 PM, after putting back to bed whichever child just came out for a final hug, a final story, a final attempt to stay up later.

Oh, good God, get a sitter already. An hour a day. A few hours one day. For God’s sake.

Who? Not being snarky. Honestly asking. Are you offering? Are you part of my “village”? Do you know someone qualified who will only work an hour or two a couple of days a week? Or even one day for a few hours? Those fabulous people are hard to come by. Fabulous sitters want lots of hours. Or lots of money.

Not my problem. Wake up early. Stay up late. And use that time to create anything but these excuses, please and thank you.

I do get up early. I have mentioned my children’s bat-hearing and their uncanny ability to wake up when I do, whenever I do. I can sneak out of the bedroom sometimes to start working at 5am. I am happy when I do. Groggy, but happy.

Well, that’s something. Maybe after they go down, too? At night?

Agreed. I’ll start sometimes at 8:30 or 9pm. It is admittedly not my prime writing time, and I tend to fall asleep no matter how exciting my writing/reading is, especially if I tried to get up early and work as well.

On this topic — are you ok with me missing out on your opening/open mic/closing night/jam session/improv bar show/read-through/drinking bullshit session because I’m using my time to write, or am I will I be punished for not being “community oriented” and “supportive”? Because honestly, I have to choose between my work and yours sometimes.

You can’t be an artist without experiencing other people’s art. It might inspire you.

Also agreed. But can I consider my attendance, my focus, my time at your event making the choice to not do my writing? Because while often other art does inspire me, sometimes it just doesn’t. Not even in a “well, at least I know I don’t want to do that and I know why it’s not resonating with me” kind of way. Sometimes it just…honestly…makes me wish I had stayed home to write.  That’s regretful art.

That happens.

Right. True. Nothing wrong with it. I’m just talking about time and this artistic definition of Time = Commitment = You Really Want to be an Artist.

God damn it. You sound like you just want some sort of Get Out Of Sacrificing Free Card. Not going to happen. Write or don’t. Who cares. Someone who really has something to say will write. Maybe you should just focus on your kids and let the artists do the heavy lifting for awhile. Ok? Stop looking for me to make it ok for you to not work as much as you should.

Also, I’d like to point out again that all this time you’re spending whining about writing time is time you could have spent creating something —

What? Better? More important?

Sure. Yes. Ok? Better.

I know. You’re right. And it kills me. The Artist me. Because Artists have this wonderful self-interest, this ability to harness time and set certain things aside to create Better Things. I’m struggling with that self-interest. I have a hard time finding momentum. Hell, I can’t even find moments most days to do anything other than some rather self-aggrandizing meta-cognition and spewing about time.

I have time to report. I have time to reflect on my reality. I have, on occasion, time to call up thoughts from the sleeping mind and craft those into something not bratty, but not large.

Because I also worry about my children. Will your art, or on your lesser (most) days, conversations and clever toss-offs,  comment on my children if they aren’t cared for well? Or fed? Dressed? Well-mannered? Intellectually challenged? What if they’re boring? Screen-addicted? Not potty trained?

I know that so many time managers, especially artistic types, recommend a cataloguing of my time spent…that seeing my days written down will help me find hours of uninterrupted, inspirational, high-energy, quality Art Time.

My days are teaching my kids to read and groom themselves. To be civilized enough not to offend, and feral enough to be imaginative and find stories in the world.  I spend a lot of time teaching my children not only to be bored (i.e. limited screens) but also what to do with that feeling that doesn’t involve fighting with siblings.  I teach them to play. I play with them. They play without me.

Play is loud. I can’t put on headphones, I am responsible for them and need to monitor for injury and for right acts as well.

They play outside. That requires supervision and occasional jurisprudence. I can’t ignore them. I won’t ignore them. I’d like to sometimes.

Jesus Christ. We get it. You’re so burdened. You’re the only one who is busy and has responsibilities and the rest of us just don’t.

No…not what I’m saying…

It sure sounds like it. Like I said: Create or don’t. Just don’t look for the rest of us to call you an artist just because you want to be one without actually having to do it. Maybe you should just stop spending time thinking why you can’t and just…don’t. Or do. Thanks for thinking we care so much about why you are or are not able to write.

Well, as I started with, you and several others did say that if I cared enough, if I wanted it enough, I’d make the time and the sacrifice.

You’re sure sacrificing long enough here.

Ha!! Yes! I wrote this one sentence at a time, for a month.

See? All you need is five minutes a day. And patience. 

Yeah, I’m just trying to get everything to the point where I will actually have five minutes where I can be present in original worlds and with characters I (or others) created. I’m trying to teach the Littles to get to that place where I don’t have to be mentally present…just for five minutes.

You don’t have five minutes a day now? In the middle of the day, I mean?

Well, I did today. I was super excited, too! I thought I might outline, or brainstorm, or write something — ANYTHING — even something awful but then I had to change my tampon, and the kids needed water and there ya go.

Oh for God’s sake. 

Break a leg tonight. Sorry I can’t be there. Preschooler has the trots. Honestly, I’d rather be there with you.

Yeah. It’s ok. You probably wouldn’t fit in anyway. No offense, you’re just…in a different place

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2 thoughts on “Of Time

  1. Right now you are doing the most important job of your life – raising your children to the best of your ability. Nothing in your life, excerpt your marriage, will be more important. So, just accept that this part of your life will be devoted to others. You’ll have all the time in the world one day to write all you want. And you’ll wonder why everything happened so quickly & now the children are grown & gone. Happy Passover. Love, Joan

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