I got my hands full.
I've got the majority of the running this house/ family/ life, I do three days each week at the barn, and the weekly shopping trip, which I try to do all in one shot because I have such a hate for shopping. If it's not done by Tuesday, we live without it.
I'm trying to study for my upcoming Riding Instructor Examinations. Yes, there is actual paper studying involved. There's a written test but I also have to be able to come up with a lesson plan to hand my examiners (examinators??) and I have to do a lot of reading to get the terminology right.
I'm trawling the intermittent net for useful info on the publishing industry, and for more useful info on the horse industry- and let me tell you, just going through the Ontario Equestrian Federation site can take a good chunk of time! Then there's blogging, which I'm doing less of because of time constraints, unfortunately.
I'm poking at my husband's office because it's getting to be tax time and there's a lot of loose paper in there.
Reading. One joyful aspect of being a writer is that I must read. I have to. So let me read. Thank you. And, writing. Yes, writing. This includes, especially lately, editing and rewriting. Lots of it.
On top of that, I'm fighting and wrestling and succumbing to a nasty little depression that's been dogging me for a few weeks. I know it's not permanent and I'm enduring, I'm keeping my work going, but it's hard to shake.
And what does it all boil down to? Me, lying in bed in the dark with a skinny old cat under my arm, thinking.
Last night I was thinking about my writers group meeting. It was a very interesting meeting, in which we discussed writing chronologically vs plotting the story with time jumps, and the potential of our stories to offend people we know and love, and the problem of working for a living while writing.
AHA. There it is. Notice that in my list of metaphorical flaming chainsaws that I juggle, there is no "Job." There's no earning of an income.
Here's something I shared with my group last night: It was 2003, I hadn't gone totally mental yet and was doing a pretty good job of holding it together and faking some form of sanity. Not normality, just functionality. I had a part time job at the local department store. I held down the cafeteria cash register, which was silly because I went into the job interview begging not to be counting money or doing any form of math. I occupied my time by flirting with the cute young stock boys who seemed to be hungry a lot over my three hour shift, and flirting with the lovely grey haired fellas who came in on Senior's Day for a cheap lunch. (Digression: the old fellas know how to flirt.) I made it clear to the HR department that I couldn't work earlier than 9 am or later than 3 pm because I had to get my kids back and forth to school. I couldn't work Mondays because that was the day I did the invoicing for my husband's business. I couldn't work weekends, obviously. They knew all this, but they still tried to schedule me at the wrong times because they were the great minds that put me on cash after I failed the math portion of the interview test.
It was a minimum wage job. I sometimes only brought home $50 a week, but it was a very necessary amount. Every little drop counts. I was driving my cherished, gorgeous '87 Pontiac Station Wagon to work. I loved that big car, but it was such a gas guzzler I hardly had any money left over once I dribbled some fuel into the tank. Meanwhile, Jethro was driving a '92 Dodge Spirit with no muffler and a license plate sticker that was about two months expired. He'd just started renting a studio and the expenses were piling up on us. We felt like we were drowning.
We kind of still do.
June rolled around, and I announced that I would be quitting. The stock boys wailed and I consoled them. (There had to be some benefits to that job.) The other employees heard that I was leaving and asked why. I explained that I had to be there for my kids. "Why don't you just get a babysitter?" This really stunned me, especially after I explained, me, who is so bad with numbers, that if I made $7 an hour and the babysitter cost $6 an hour, I'd have to borrow money from my husband to gas up the car so I could work for free. Duh. Blank stares. I have no idea how some of these people get through life.
I did have a burst of panic before my last shift. How would we get through summer without that drip of money I'd been getting? I'd have to go back in September. We were going to starve/ die/ get kicked out of our house.
Jethro laid a giant hand on my arm and said, very calmly, "If you keep working at Zellers, you'll never finish writing your book."
What could I say to that? "Writing novels is not a good financial plan." I think I said something like that.
"Yeah but you have to do it." That was his reply. "Things will get better. Write that book."
Things have gotten better and worse since then. Financially we have the kind of magnificent debt that I used to think only rich people were allowed to have. I went completely droolingly nuts a year and a half later. I'm feeling a bit better now, thank you. The book is written, and I stopped denying myself a place in the horse business too.
I decided to do it all. I decided to make a goal of getting paid for it.
Last night one of my writer friends asked me if I thought the riding lessons could get in the way of the writing. I had to be honest- Yes. I do worry about that. Jethro doesn't. He figures the best thing for me would be to get out of the house during a frustrating page, head out to the barn, and put somebody on a horse for an hour. It's a different kind of brain activity, plus it gets my butt out of the chair and gets me moving. He knows that I have a serious need to write that can't even be clearly explained, but that if I go too long without horse contact, I'm miserable. I need to write and I need horses. I'd like to think the two can compliment each other, but I don't know if I can do both careers. Maybe one will have to make room for the other at some point. I won't know until I get there.
I don't know... maybe I could just lay down some of those flaming chainsaws for a short break before I pick it all up again...
Back to work. I just figured out who one of my main characters is, a kid who isn't even alive anymore by the time the book starts, and all this time he haunted me. I finally know what he was all about and must write it down. Plus I have to photocopy some arena diagrams for my lesson plan and I might even wash a dish or two. And the juggling is ON...