A Time and Place for Everything

I had a breakdown the other night. (Isn’t that a great way to start a post?) I’m not crazy, well, not terribly anyway. The breakdown was nothing serious, nothing where you have to go pull out the straight jacket; not that you have one but if you do you can keep it hidden in your trunk…for now.

No, it was your everyday breakdown that I’m sure every mom has once in awhile, or once a week if you’re me. It started because I woke in the morning to the dogs going through the trash that was topped off with dirty diapers and ended at night with the kids taking the crib apart. Tuesday was a wonderful day to be me, seriously, you should be jealous.

When my ever so sweet, caring and supportive husband sat me down two nights ago to talk about what has me so stressed I almost blew a gasket. What doesn’t have me stressed nowadays? Before I started writing my days revolved around the kids, changing diapers, walking to the park, changing more diapers, changing my clothes because someone spit up on me, reading bed time stories so on and so forth. Now with writing its like I’ve added another child to our growing brood.

Sparky genuinely tried to help me organize my days. That was, is, and probably always will be a problem. Trying to balance the life of a wife, mother and now a writer is very, very difficult. I’m always putting off something to do something else. I can’t read my oldest her favorite book for the 30th time because the baby’s diaper needs to be changed, the dogs need to be fed and I forgot to put pants on this morning and that should be corrected before we leave the house. (It happened yesterday morning. Don’t judge.)

Sparky and I went over the days and times when writing seems to be the easiest for me and the less guilt inducing. After we had a nice little schedule set I looked up at him with love in my eyes and said “It’ll never work.” He looked deflated, crushed and really confused.

It won’t work because all of those times that we set aside for me to write I’ll be sitting at my dining room table. Why there? Because that’s my desk. Amongst the used tissues, the naked Barbie dolls, and dried on oatmeal lies my computer, notebooks and books on writing. Albeit I have a comfy chair, but really that only goes so far.

Some days the world can fall down around me and I can write without batting an eye lash. Others it can be quiet as a church mouse and out of the corner of my eye I’ll see a dust bunny and feel the need to clean the entire house. I need an office, but since that isn’t in the cards now, or anytime soon, what I need is to get out of the house.

I proposed a question to Twitter two nights ago asking of places outside the home where I could go to write. I got the usuals, Barnes & Noble, coffee shops, libraries to the not so usual, the neighborhood McDonald’s.

Where do you go if you want to write outside your home? Do you find that you get more distracted by being amongst other people? Or do you find you get more work done because you’re not at home where the mundane tasks of homeownership guilt you into reseeding the lawn?

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About Karen DeLabar

A writer who divides her time between her family and her computer while sparing some time to her other loves of theatre, books and scotch.
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20 Responses to A Time and Place for Everything

  1. Steve says:

    Kaye, my desk is the dining room table also! I’m in a position where I work out of my house, so the basement is a big office for three people working. I can’t possibly use that as my writing environment, so I go upstairs to the dining room table. Which is fine…until like you, life intrudes. I’m lucky in that my kids are school-age, so they’re gone from 8 to 3; however that seems to be the busy time for work. After 3, work slows down, but then the kids get home…in an hour I’m carting one off to soccer, then the other to karate, then I’m making dinner, then we finally all sit down and watch a TV show or two. Kids hit bed at 9, my wife and I watch our show, so it’s gotten to the point where my only writing time, uninterrupted, is 10pm on.

    I feel your pain…is your husband available for me to cry on his shoulder as well? 🙂

    Oh…and if you read between the lines, my hidden message is that it doesn’t get much better on time as they get older…

    ~Steve
    http://www.SteveUmstead.com

    • Kaye Peters says:

      So, you’re saying that I should let go of what little hope I had for the future, huh? I was looking forward to the days when my kids would be in school and I would have uninterrupted hours of writing. But then reality steps in in the form of people who have been down the same road I’m currently trucking and remind me that things rarely go as planned.

      I should just suck it up and write at night whether I’m tired or not. I mean, I’m a mom, I should be used to functioning on less than 2 hrs of sleep. Maybe I’m just a slacker? 😉

      • Steve says:

        I think EVERY writer has said, or continues to say, if only I had more time. I know I sit back sometimes and think, “If I just had a week straight of uninterrupted time, I could put out a solid 90,000 MS at 1500 words per hour.”

        You shouldn’t listen to me though…I’m inherently lazy, and probably do have a couple hours each day where I’m literally doing nothing but eating pretzels watching ESPN. *Poof* – Instant bestseller in 3 weeks.

  2. Savana Quinn says:

    I am making you a sign for your door to remind you to put your pants on! Ha! Got a good laugh from that one!

    I write at the dining room table too. I don’t have kids (yet), but I still manage to get distracted. Either the dog, or dishes or laundry, or that random dust bunny floating across the wood floor can pull me away. If Pookie is home, it is worse (there are days I regret the open concept floor plan I so desperately wanted).

    I like coffee shops to write in. I find that the little
    mom and pop” shops are usually more conducive to writing than the chains like Starbucks. College libraries can work well, too, but you have to be careful where you go. Some of them are like one big party! 🙂

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Can it be purple with sparkles all over it? That way it will really pop against our cream shade that I have hanging in the door window. Awesome.

      I’m thinking of trying Panera this weekend only because the time I have scheduled for writing is over lunch, so I can get some grub and some writing done.

      I like the idea of coffee shops, but I need room. I’m a spreader, I take over small spaces as fast as the black plague. I should be called the red plague.

      If I could create my perfect writing spot it would be in an old library with huge wooden desks with secret drawers that I would hide highlighters and my prized thesaurus in. It would be a little drafty and there would be a spindly librarian who would vanish mysteriously behind a door labeled “Reference.”

  3. DanaB says:

    Hang in there, it does get a bit easier as the kids get older. Mine are now teens and we homeschool so they are always here at home but there are large pockets of time where they vanish to their own computers and pursuits.
    I didn’t start pursuing my writing earnestly until last year, for I knew I’d have the same reaction you are having at trying to find time for it all. What little writing I did when mine were small was done in the wee hours after midnight and before 6am. *zzzz*
    It’s wonderful that your husband is supportive–I know I wouldn’t be able to get any writing done if mine weren’t my number one cheerleader! While I don’t have any concrete answers, I just want you to know you’re not alone 🙂
    Keep putting the babies and the husband first, then the writing and the rest will fall into place over time, it really will.
    ~

    • Kaye Peters says:

      That’s for the advice!

      I have to remember I am just one person with a million dreams and the only way to achieve them is one day at a time. I never was a structured person but having little ones that crave routine is helping me organize my own time. I’ve learned to carry small notebooks and even a voice recorder with me so if I’m hit with an idea I can jot it down, or record it, so I can get back to it later.

      And yes, I’m very lucky that my husband is there for me and this new venture. I couldn’t imagine trying to do this without him behind me 150%

  4. Fallon says:

    my desk is a lapdesk I use while sitting on the couch. Have thought about moving over to the bar on the other side of our kitchen counter but then have to rely on battery power or keep moving the cord(and the cord is behind the couch so a PITA to move it). I might try it out next week and see how it works for me though. I just try to get up before the kids, which means 5 am and even then I don’t always beat them by much. I’m a morning person though, so that’s when I’m most productive. I don’t really have anywhere to write outside the home since we live outside of a really small town. I can usually tune most things out(including the need to do housework. lol) if I have some music on.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Good for you being a morning person! I wish I was. I am a night owl through and through. The only problem with that is, by the end of the day I’m exhausted. I may be able to stay awake but my body is beaten down after chasing a 1 and 3 yr old around that all I can do is lay there and stare at the ceiling. Such a waste. I’ve tried waking up in the morning to write, but then I end up drooling on my keyboard because I fell back to sleep. And, you know you shouldn’t get your computer wet, so its a loss there. 😉

      • Steve says:

        Gaaa, how in the world do you people get up before 6AM and write? Or 5 AM? Cripes…I’m barely into REM sleep by then I think. I’ve always been a night person, thank god I don’t have a real job where I have to drive into the city every morning. Honestly I have a hard enough time getting up to get my kids to the bus at 7:30AM, my brain simply won’t work that early to write. Plus, the red wine doesn’t go down as well at 6AM as it does at 10PM.

  5. Kaye Peters says:

    It does if you go by the old adage that its 5 o’clock somewhere. HA! In that case it really is 5 o’clock – it doesn’t specify am or pm! God, I love those loopholes.

  6. 2blu2btru says:

    When I’m not writing at home, I find I write best two places: the library and the park. The library is relatively quiet, but with ambient sounds. If I get stuck or can’t come up with anything to write, I people watch and come up with sketches of them until it builds to something, or I’ve fulfilled my quota.

    At the park, I can get up and move if I don’t feel inspired where I am. It’s amazing how much moving to another place can change your perspective and help you write. Also, there is usually some body of water, which is soothing, and people to watch (I get a lot of inspiration from people watching).

    When I’m people watching, I try to figure out where people came from, where they are going, why they are here (in a literal sense), who they love and whether they’re happy. This opens up a whole world of possibility.

    I also write in my car on my lunch break sometimes. It’s quieter (and warmer) than the breakroom.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      I have to say that I’m anxious for the weather to warm up. There are a couple of parks and even some college campuses around us that have beautiful and serene landscaping that is very soothing and inspiring. I definitely want to try getting out there in the fresh air to play around with some ideas.

      I agree with you, for me, people watching helps with the inspiration. Whenever I sit and watch people I make up little stories about who they are, where they came from, where they’re going. It helps get the creative juices flowing. We live by an airport and when I was younger we’d watch the planes take off and make up stories about where it was heading and all the adventures the people would take. Great fun…and cheap – all you needed was an imagination. 🙂

  7. DanaB says:

    Man o man, chasing wee ones of that age always left me comatose at the end of the day for anything seriously productive. (Mine are 23 months apart) I stayed up late back then after my wee ones were in bed,but it was reading or watching tv…recharging batteries! So I know just what you mean!

    I’m also one of those that has to move about frequently…which can sometimes seriously eat into productive time, but at the same time is part of my productivity–I never said I made sense 🙂

    ~~

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Mine are 22 months apart…I have no idea how that happened. I mean, well….never mind. And I totally get the moving around being productive but then not productive at the same time. I can sit down exhausted at the end of the day and recount everything I did, all the running around etc, and yet not do anything I needed to accomplish. Weird how that works.

  8. Lisa says:

    I don’t really have anything to add, but I did want to say hang in there.

  9. dlburton says:

    Hang in there. As for writing I have this thing that I do: every Sunday morning at six I wake up and I write for three hours. It’s just me, my MacBook, and pot of tea, and my writings. Somedays I accomplish a lot and somedays I don’t, but I write.

    • Kaye Peters says:

      Thanks for your comment! I’ve tried to wake up early during the week to do that, but there’s too much going on in the day that I crash early. However, on the weekends, with my husband home to do the morning routine, maybe I could get away with that. I may have to try it. Although, I do like so sleep in, so it may need some getting used to 🙂

  10. Pingback: » My Escape to Panera Kaye Peters

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