Saturday, February 17, 2007

Choices

In a previous post I mentioned a two week on-line writing course I signed up for. Its official start was last Monday but I discovered (belatedly) that assignments had been posted on the Sunday. I was behind before the course even began.

I managed to catch up but I’m about to fall way behind again. And this time, I’ll be staying behind.

The latest assignment requires that I write and submit a 5000 word story by Monday or late Tuesday. I’m supposed to work on it over the weekend. This is not going to happen.

Why?

Two of my kids are on their Reading Week. One is home now. The other arrives tomorrow. Call me crazy, but I consider this family time. I’m not a martyr — this is a matter of choice. My choice.

Even if I chose to ignore my kids (and my husband) over the course of the weekend and into next week, it would be next to impossible to write. I need peace and quiet to be creative. My desk and computer are located in the family room/kitchen area — the “hub” of family activity. (Yes, poor planning.)

And while 5000 words doesn’t sound like much, it is when you’re dealing with a “hook,” a believable plot, characterization, dialogue and a plausible ending. I would need absolute silence to concentrate and produce such a mini-epic. To be honest, I have never in my life written a story in four days. Well, I’ve written one — but then it takes me days to edit the first draft.

I actually gave some thought as to where I could “hide” and write. The only place is my bedroom and I’m not capable of using a laptop while sitting on my bed. (Ouch, the pain — to my back, legs, neck, shoulders, etc.)

And then I gave my head a shake. Why would I want to hide or escape when presented with this rare opportunity to be with my kids?

Although it’s tempting to write a story that would be critiqued by a pro, I’d rather spend this time listening to, laughing with and having a good time with my boys. And I’m not na├»ve — I know they aren’t going to be hanging around the house every minute of their vacation. However, when they are home, I don’t want to be saying, “Sshh, I can’t listen or talk to you right now. I’m busy.”

I love to write. It’s satisfying and a wonderful thing to do as the nest empties. But my kids are and have always been a priority in my life. That was a choice I made years ago — motherhood over a career. I was fortunate to be able to make such a choice. I’m sticking with it now.

Too bad as to the timing of this writing course. C’est la vie. (Well, my life, anyway.)

BTW, while I’ve been writing this (which is not a creative masterpiece) I’ve also been chatting with my youngest. Welcome interruptions. He’s cute, he’s funny and brings more joy to my life than any published story.


Postscript

Turns out I have approximately 24 hours of solitude in which to write! My husband and youngest son just left for a quick overnight to the cottage. I’m still not going to be able to pull off a 5000 word story in that time but perhaps the instructor will accept and critique a (rough) beginning and (maybe?) middle???

Beth — start your engines…

11 comments:

Jackie said...

Beth,
I am sure you have heard the theory that creative writing cannot be taught. The "mechanics" - structure and grammar - can be taught but "creativity" cannot be taught. So, enjoy your week with the boys. You won't be missing a thing if you don't have that assignment done and critiqued by a person who may or may not be competent. Passing or failing a writing course would not make you any less a writer.

Beth said...

jackie: Thanks for those kind words of encouragement and support!
I'm writing but I don't think it's turning out so well with this 24 hour deadline. (How did I ever write that column years ago?)

The Guy Who Writes This said...

Don't you have anything of 5k words in the computer? I'd offer to lend you something, but that isn't what learning is all about, is it?

Beth said...

guy: Trust me, if I had a 5k piece on this computer (or stashed in a drawer) that fit the theme and content required, I'd be using it!

Trish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Trish said...

Ohhh I hear your dilemma, Good luck on that story I am sure it will be fabulous.

Mom of Three said...

I'll write it for ya if you pay me! :)

I feel I have to be in the mood to write, though I wrote on deadline for years and made them all.

Beth said...

trish: My 24 hours is up - story not so fabulous.

mof3: Your offer is tempting...
My writing (decently) on a deadline seems to be a thing of the past.

Dorky Dad said...

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

And I agree with you ... I need quiet in which to write, but I'd rather spend time with my kid. I'll find time to write ...

Attila The Mom said...

Ooooh, how'd you do?

Beth said...

dorky dad and attila:

Thanks for asking. I'd have to say it did not go well. See today's (Monday's) post.