When I was in the middle of writing my first novel, The Immortals, a woman-writer friend of mine who’s published three books said to me, “As a female writer, you must demand the time to write. Male writers don’t have to demand the time; it’s just accepted that they go off and do their thing. For women, we must fight for the time. Don’t be afraid to take it.” She was right. When I researched successful authors’ writing habits, I found a varied list of each artist’s routines. Some writers craft at night, some scribble as soon as they wake up, some carve out certain hours each day, and some write when the mood strikes them. It seemed to me that as long as I was writing, even if it was the proverbial “shitty first draft”, that there was no wrong time to write. But did you catch that word in the last sentence that gets many of us writers hung up? Time.
In addition to being a writer, I’m a wife, a mother, a friend, a sister, a daughter, a volunteer, the CEO and head chef of our household, just to name a few of my prominent titles. I have four pets, two of whom are energetic Labrador Retrievers who stare at me and follow me everywhere until I take them on their daily walk. While I do covet routine, everyday is truly new. On Facebook I recently posted that I’d [stupidly] forgotten that if you want to make God laugh, make a plan. While I’m all for God’s laughter, as a writer this is not good news. Deadlines and plans are necessary, if not mandatory guidelines, otherwise the stories I want to craft and the words I want to play with are jailed in my brain. To some this may seem safe but a published writer it does not make. Furthermore, I have some unsavory family members whose sole campaign is to keep the keys to my creativity and productivity hidden. They are very jealous and possessive. So let me introduce you to my rogue cousins, the Time Bandits, who love to invite themselves over unannounced and unwanted.
First there are the Figurative Wrinkles: there’s no escaping them. They are the most benign cousins from that side of the family. The Figurative Wrinkles are the unavoidable hiccups, urgencies, emergencies, phone calls from old friends whom I haven’t heard from in four years, escaped dogs running down the road looking for a tryst, or the disposal of some animal or bird carcass eviscerated by one of my cats that he left for me at the back door in case I decided I want some extra protein that day. The Figurative Wrinkles delight in showing up looking for a spot of tea and a good chinny-wag just as I’m about to sit down and bang out a few clever sentences of really impressive words that I hope will unite and form coherent paragraphs and brilliant stories that other people want to read. I don’t dislike most of these cousins and sometimes even enjoy their company, but they are really hard to shake some days.
Besides the Figurative Wrinkles, my ankle-biting cousins the Procrastination-Pests live next door and don’t understand the word ‘boundary’. They conspicuously arrive and ceaselessly remind me that laundry needs to be washed and folded or an email needs to be answered immediately or that I forgot to buy my mother’s birthday gift that’s still two weeks away; or, the best one: that now is the perfect time to organize the thousands of photos from my forty-five years of life that I have stashed in several large cardboard boxes out in the garage. They always offer to help me organize the photos which makes it hard to say no. They sabotage all writing effort, sometimes for hours with their nonstop chatter and desire to hang out with me, until I remind myself that they live next door and I can tell them, “Go home. I need to write.”
But the worst Time Bandit offenders are the Insecurity Ogres. I’m not sure where they live because I’ve never been invited over but I suspect it’s a dank cave with slimy algae that looks similar to snot dripping from the ceiling. The Insecurity-Ogres are my evil cousins because they not only show up uninvited but also lurk in the corner waiting to sling their vomitus insults at me and then cackle when they see fear on my face. With startling ease, they con me into believing that I should have a large glass of wine or two with the Procrastination Pests because my words aren’t as good – never will be in fact – as the outstanding writers I revere. Sometimes they chant, “You don’t deserve success” or “You’re not clever. You’re not witty. You’re not smart. No, not ever!” so quietly but profoundly that I believe them. In their charming voices that I imagine are similar to the Sirens on Cape Pelorum, they hypnotize me into believing that no one will like what I’ve written so what’s the point. The Insecurity Ogres also possess the uncanny ability to make my brain go blank like they sucked all good ideas out with a Dyson vacuum and paralyze my fingers so I’m unable to type a single letter. Subtle manipulation and covert operations are their main forms of warfare. I’ve lost a lot of time to the Insecurity Ogres. Can you tell I don’t like them?
So what have I learned? The Time Bandits are my prodigal cousins. However, I have another set of shy, yet spiritually brawny cousins called The Muses. They’re knowledgeable and embody all the qualities writers love because they invoke powerful inspiration when they show up at my door. The Muses smell like blooming jasmine to me; however, they are fetid to the Time Bandits who often hold their noses with clothes pins when the Muses are here. I’ve seen them in fierce arm wrestling matches that sometimes go on for days. When the Muses win, it’s a celebration no doubt and the Time Bandits retreat and go back home to sulk. To be honest, I cherish the Muses and wish they weren’t so elusive.
The talented and creative John Cleese calls it the “time-space-oasis”, and if you haven’t seen his thirty-minute talk on creativity, I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for that sneaky extra time in the same twenty-four hours we’ve all been granted. The door is bolted shut to the Time Bandits when I’m in my oasis. There is no bouncer with a secret word of the night to let them in. And if I listen patiently, my demure Muses tiptoe in and without realizing it, we’re all together enjoying each others’ company for an hour or more. However, as I’ve pointed out, plans change – and that’s ok. But let me caution you, those Time Bandit cousins, if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile. Do you have any cousins like mine? Maybe we’re related.
Thanks to @TravelingWithT for some of these images. If you want to know more about Tori Eversmann, choose one of the links below and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!!https://www.facebook.com/TheImmortalsNovel?ref=hl