Some Mornings Hurt Worse Than Others
Being a writer hurts. In my efforts to finish Teen Novel #3, my “momoir,” my website revamp, my promo materials, and get my freelance editing caught up while raising my triplets as a work-at-home mom, I’ve given up sleep. And that’s barely an exaggeration. Take last night, for example: I got just four hours of shut-eye, on the generous side. This morning my body hurts. Really, physically hurts. I think I may have a head cold, too, but that’s beside the point, which is that I’m suffering from sustained sleep deprivation. Again.
It wasn’t that I was out doing the Friday night party scene last night, although I did see a lot of other people doing the Friday night party scene. I was working on my computer at Starbucks, finishing up an edit on a picture book manuscript. And you know what was weird? A lot of the partiers in Starbucks were little kids. Seriously. Will someone please tell me what small kids are doing out on the town at 10:00pm? Those are gonna be some cranky buckaroos this morning! But I digress. This post is about my rough morning, not theirs.
Making the time to write and edit is nothing new for me. I’m a freak for time management and schedules, so when the boys were born I tackled my busy new life with a calendar and a stopwatch. I’m writing an entire book about that frightening and hilarious effort (hence the “momoir”), but what’s important about that now is to note that in the end, the boys and I worked out a truce where they agreed to nap soundly twice a day so that I could write while they slept, leaving my evenings free for the gym or bonus work time. That’s how my second novel, Big Mouth, was written in just five months, from my trio’s first birthday onward. But this year, my darling boys reneged on the deal: They gave up their afternoon naps.
Believe me when I say that this dropped nap is a catastrophe of the highest order, and it’s in direct violation to everything I believe in. That is, that a schedule that ain’t broke don’t need fixing. How dare they alter their schedule without my approval, which I absolutely would not give! It’s almost too much to bear.
I fought the boys’ new schedule tooth and nail, but they eventually won. It was bound to happen, of course. I mean, how many seven-year-olds do you know who nap twice a day? Still, it’s painful. And now the boys are going to bed at 7:00-7:30 instead of 6:30 for various reasons. That and the dropped nap mean I have approximately three hours less writing/editing time per day. That’s a severe cutback. Ever hear the phrase “Cramming ten pounds of crap into a five pound bag”? I understand it now. My day is the five-pound bag. Guess which one my writing time is.
In the months since this tragic turn of events, I’ve been on an up-and-down cycle of being caught up on work and madly chasing deadlines in the middle of the night. I have just 2 hours of work time each day, four if I don’t go to the gym or talk to my husband in the evening. Indeed, now the real challenge of balancing this freelance editing and writing and triplet life has kicked in. I’ve been putting my calendar and stopwatch through their paces, but so far I haven’t nailed down a new schedule. And it is killing the time management monster in me. Oh, I know I’ll conquer this challenge somehow, in fact, I’m going to try going back to my morning workout routine to free up my evenings, but I just wonder what shape I’ll be in when that happens. If it’s anything like this morning, I’ll have to add aspirin to my office supply box.
But that’s what four hours of sleep will get you. I finally let go of yesterday at 1:30 a.m. Turning the computer off, I stumbled to bed, where I laid for maybe another half an hour working out the plot of a picture book story that’s been brewing in my mind. I have no idea when I finally zonked out. What I do know is that I’m here now, at 5:41 a.m., finishing a blog post, waiting for the boys’ oatmeal to cook, and listening for the dryer’s buzzer for the second load of laundry . . . all while my husband still sleeps. That last part is my own fault: Normally he wakes at 4:45 with me, and we do all the morning prep together. But this a.m. I decided to turn off the alarm and sneak out of the room while he still slept. After all, the night before last, he hadn’t gotten to sleep until 1:30. I want to be sure the poor guy gets caught up on his zzz’s.
*Sigh* Somebody please save me from myself.