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I have been struggling with my workspace and my ability to work here at home. The biggest problem is the TV. I write in the family room. It is where my desk and computer are located. It used to not bother me as much when I was headlong throwing myself into the work, in the zone, etc. But after a time, perhaps after the book came out, when I pulled back from the singular drive of producing and revising, it was hard to get back in the groove, and I faltered.
There was also the issue of respect—I wasn’t getting any. When I needed to work, the distractions were constant. When my family is here the TV is almost always on. Or, my people would need me right when I was deep in the middle of something.
I think the fact that I am a woman not employed outside of the home, our family dynamic has been that I am the nurturing, need-filler–The Go-To Girl for Everything…To some extent that is true but our lives are changing (our daughter is an adult now). The dynamic has to shift. I have grown and changed so much. I am sure it is disconcerting and confusing to another to grasp that someone is not the person they think they are. The idea of me is not me.
Well, that is a whole ‘nuther topic.
It’s easy, if you are not paying attention, to think that I was just surfing the Internet, rather than working, if whomever was not really paying attention. I was told that I was ignoring my family to play on the computer. That really pissed me off. I had to really fight to get across the fact that I am a working poet, and now editor, whose work takes place 24/7 365 and that at any point I could be doing some task related to that work.
It took me eight years to write Eating the Heart First, but a big chunk of that time was in the wee hours, because I had chronic insomnia. Also, when I did write in the daytime, my daughter was in school and my husband was at work. I still had time to write, submit, and book readings. I was able to work uninterrupted for long stretches of time.
Now it is about to get even more important for me to get a hold of my time to be able to complete the tasks that need to be done in a timely manner, because I am working with others on several projects. I really had to raise hell to get my boundaries set. I got my point across successfully and I feel like I can devote renewed energy in a productive ways.
In the past few months, my husband’s work schedule has changed, my daughter is out of high school. Between the time she goes to work and my husband comes home I have less than an hour to myself. It has been hard to find chunks of time in which I could work, read uninterrupted, soak quietly, meditate, etc. I have begun putting “Work Blocks” and “Clare Blocks” on Google Calendar around other commitments. This has proved helpful.
I admit Facebook eats up time, and I go to it because I feel at times defeated by not having needed time and the mind-state to go deep into myself as is necessary to produce writing. I don’t play games on Facebook. I joke around with friends, yes, but most of what I do is networking, promotion of literary activities, and event announcements, etc. It is a helpful tool.
Something great has happened though. Last week I cleared my desk entirely, dusted it and began re-ordering the essentials on it. It was a paper avalanche threatening collapse but I took care of that too. I’ve set up my desk to be functional rather than a place to dump mail. I went to Family Dollar and bought a clear plastic container with a lid and put all of the mail and paperwork that had been piling up in it. Now, I can sit with that box and go through each piece and file what needs to be filed, shred what needs to be shred.
I put a small lamp on my desk, so that I would have soft light and the other humans here could be in dimmer areas. I have art pieces on the wall I face and hung poetry broadsides there too. Also of late, I have been using Pandora much of the time with head phones on, so that the noise from the TV (which regrettably is almost always on) is cancelled.
I love my new work corner. And my desire has been resilient to work again. The most serious work is the writing itself. After that, my other professional obligations follow. So, I have clarified my work area, made it cozy and conducive to work, solved the sound distraction problem, and made clear that if the people in my life value me, they must value the fact that I am a writer, not a hobbyist, I do not write because I love it. I write because it is what I am and the act of it cannot be set apart from my identity. I have more hope now for the progress I will make in my own artistic development and my ability to work clutter-free, free from draining nuisances and disrespect on many levels, and with the freedom to open a document and follow word after word after word.