The Writers Circle

creative writing community, craft and inspiration

Stealing Time

On Friday, I finished my revisions. Again. At last. (It had better be!)

No, I don’t share this fact for cheers, though I appreciate them, truly. I share it because so many of you – in my own Writers Circle classes or those of our other instructors – are in the same boat. We’re paddling upstream against time, family or school pressures and the often uninspired tedium of drafting or revision. I want to share with each of you, as my personal gift, how the heck I managed to find the time and commitment to write amidst everything I’ve got going on here at The Writers Circle and in life in general.

My secret? Don’t carve out time to write. Steal it.

clock-svetlana-sewellThese last months have been overwhelming with the joys and challenges of running The Writers Circle. TWC is my full-time job now, for which I am both proud and grateful. But ask any writer how they feel about their day job and they’ll admit without a second thought that they’d rather be writing.

Our own staff often wonder about me and Michelle, uttering in amazement, “With everything that’s going on, you two manage to keep writing?”

Yes, we do. That’s part of our pact. In fact, it’s written into our partnership agreement. We’re writers first and foremost, though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. When we work, we often set a time to stop so we can get to our writing. Sometimes we make it. Sometimes we run over or miss it altogether. But we try.

I am often just getting started writing when my kids get home. Lately, I’ve almost guiltlessly approved their video game play or Netflix obsessions so I can keep going.

Other days – like when we launched the new registration system or the website redesign – I couldn’t squeeze in even those few precious hours. It was down to minutes. For me – a night writer always and forever – I found myself working through the last semi-conscious moments before bed – just staring at the words for one last adjustment – words that I’d practically memorized – tweaking just a bit before falling asleep at the keyboard as I did in the bad-old-days when I had a “real” full-time job.

I’ve taken my laptop to my kids’ afternoon classes and sat editing in coffee shops across the street. At one of my regular haunts, the owner doesn’t even charge for my tea if I run out – preoccupied and therefore late to pick up my son – because he knows I’ll be back next week to make it up to him.

I’ve written in my own class time along with my students and have been unabashedly grateful when they say, “Can we keep going? I’m not quite done.” Yeah, don’t I know how that feels!

There have been moments – more than I care to count – when I’ve truly felt dead inside. Written out. Exhausted. I’ve almost hated my novel – which I actually adore. But I just wanted the damned thing done! I’ve even felt like I was done with writing, simply drained and without any creativity left. Still, I kept going, finding moments of relief when I broke through like water plunging at last over a dam.

On Friday, I knew I was close – a couple of chapters left, but they didn’t have the problems I’d fussed over elsewhere. It was already dark, but not yet dinner time, when the moment came with its subtle giddiness. I sent my email – to Michelle, of course. Only a subject line – no text. “Basically, DONE. EOM.”

Thank God!

She wrote back, “HOORAY!”

Back at my desk yesterday for the first time without it, I felt untethered. I didn’t quite know what to do. There was client work to read, a few things for TWC. I wrapped presents, called some old friends whom I’d neglected for months.

Then, this morning, at the un-holy hour of 6:15 AM, I awoke with this blog post writing itself in my head. I turned on the laptop in the dark and started to work. My husband woke beside me. “Are you OK?”

So I guess I’m still a writer. Maybe this is only a quick blog post, but I drafted it in ten minutes. And I have other things burbling up to say. And yes, a new novel looming before me. I’ll think about that after the holidays. For now I’ll take the rest of the year to rest, recuperate and get re-inspired.

I pray that 2015 will be the year my finished book sells and my new book begins to find its way. I hope the same for all of you.

Keep slogging, everyone. You’ll get there. Happy holidays!

About Judith

Judith Lindbergh's latest novel, Pasture of Heaven, is about a nomad woman warrior on the Central Asian steppes in the 5th century BCE. (And there really were!) Her first novel, The Thrall's Tale, is a literary historical novel about three women in the first Viking Age settlement in 10th century Greenland. The Thrall's Tale was a Booksense Pick and a Borders Original Voices selection. Judith is also the founder and director of The Writers Circle, a creative writing program offering workshops for children and adults.

2 comments on “Stealing Time

  1. Judith
    December 23, 2014

    Reblogged this on Digging for Words and commented:

    At last, my silence is broken. Read below and you’ll see why. I had to choose – write my novel, or write the blog. I think I made the right choice. Happy holidays!

  2. Sheila
    December 23, 2014

    Congratulations on a wonderful accomplishment. A very nice way to end the year and start of a new year. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

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