The article is about how I was able to Balance my time in writing my novel
Over the years as a college professor, I wrote several books and other shorter works. Then, widowed and in the middle of busy retirement, I married my high school sweetheart, increasing exponentially my family size and complexity. It seemed that people “ate up my time,” and age began to take a toll on my energy. But I wasn’t ready to settle for the routine, and as I approached the eighth decade of life I became mindful that I had not fulfilled my dream of writing a novel. Then and there, like turning on a dime, I decided to become a serious student of fiction and write a novel that would speak to the fifty-plus year old reader.
My big hurtle was to block out uninterrupted time to write and to give myself permission to use the needed resources (time, money, energy) to get the help I needed to understand the structure of fiction. And I wanted to be part of the give-and-take of the creative writers’ community.
I approached what I needed like any self-confident woman would: I hid my, I want uninterrupted time, wish behind my age. I thought, No one expects an eighty-something year old to be available from early till late! This time slot idea was great because I enjoy working into the night—and I also enjoy sleeping my eight hours from the time I go to bed until I get up. I carved out my writing time from about 8pm until around 3am, when the home activities had settled down, and I slept from about 3am until 10:00am or later. (Note: As fate would have it, shortly after our marriage, my husband and I had agreed that we would make our own breakfast.)
My use of money was actually much less a problem at my age than it would have been had I been a young mother with children. Retired and with my own income (and with an agreed upon joint account for our common use) I did not need to account to anyone for my expenditures and I could determine what I could or would spend on my writing activities. For example, I was free to pay a consultant to critique my work if I made that choice. However, being away from home to attend conferences required negotiations and/or making the event a shared experience (which was not always convenient or even comfortable—but it was workable.)
As my writing progressed, and my commitment to my novel became more intense, I did have some internal friction about some things, like not having frequent family gatherings (because preparation and cleaning up afterwards was time consuming), and sometimes I had the feeling that my extended family was unhappy with the way I was using my time; yet, their disapproval (if real) was unspoken and so I pursued my dream knowing that we are living fully when we are pursuing our passion.
Voila! This past year, at age 82, I had my first novel, A RING, A DANCE, A SECOND CHANCE (Tate. 2011) published. Writing the love story about high school sweethearts, who marry more than forty years later, was a personally satisfying experience. Now, I’m looking forward to embarking on my next work of fiction.