Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Time Management Tuesday: Chaos Involving Time, Place, And Money

Last week's TMT post was about my  favorite subject recently, writing in chaos, becoming one with the chaos. While writing it, I was reminded of an article I read a few months ago at Literary HubThe Heartbreaking Ingenuity of the Mother-Writer by Olivia Campbell.

Campbell is writing about women who are actually working as writers while functioning as the primary caregiver for children, not women who get most of their income from other jobs. Caregiving is just plain chaotic, and these women are writing while living with the chaos. They end up having to do what we've talked about here many times. They use small pieces of time to write, because the demands of their lives are such that they don't have big chunks to work with. While it would be terrific to have a month, a week, a weekend or even half a day to write, you can also write with little units of time spread over a long period.

Campbell's mother-writers deal with another level of chaos, of course, in that they often can't work in the same place all the time. It's not unusual for them to have to move around, writing in cars or at child events or in odd spots in their own homes. 

Time is one thing, place is another. Using whatever 20-minute, 45-minute, 90-minute unit of time you can grab when you can sit down at the same desk each time you grab it is very different from using those same amounts of time while in a room with people watching TV or at the lake while someone's having a swimming lesson. I can remember bringing some pages with me to a nursing home to revise and some reading with me when I was going to help out with some childcare in someone else's home. I ended up bringing it all back to my place. Years ago, before the splendor of the iPhone that is in my pocket right now, I bought a small tape recorder to carry with me in the car, so I could record ideas and plans for projects I was working on. I used it a couple of times and think I threw it away this past year.

I'm not touching the whole place thing here at OC

I Will Touch Money, Though

One of the things Campbell writes about is the fantasy that writers, particularly men, work in seclusion at big desks. I am going to argue that if this exists anywhere it is probably just for the most successful writers, male or female. The situation you see for Tom in Home Economics, who I think in one episode was working at a desk in a room with a crib, is probably much more the case for the majority of writers. 

Success and the money it brings is where things become tricky for writers, particularly mother-writers. As Campbell pointed out in an example from her own life, you need a certain amount of writing income to pay for child care so you have more time to write more so you can make more money. This becomes even more frustrating since writers have to spend an enormous amount of time on work that may never generate any income at all. Some of us are giving a lot of work away trying to develop a reputation that editors and publishers will be interested in, which could generate income in the future but there's nothing there to pay for childcare now.

Virginia Woolf is often quoted as saying that in order to write, women need a room of their own. But she didn't just say they needed a room of their own. She said they needed a room of their own and five hundred pounds a year. 

It's the lack of money--from either writing income or family--that has such an impact on mother-writers. It's what leaves them in chaos and working with little units of time.   

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