This weekend, for the first time since November, I wrote a scene for Andrew’s story. That shouldn’t be as monumental as it is, but other than a few unexpected days in December, I haven’t done any writing in two months, which is just–it’s unheard of, honestly. Since I stepped away from my twelve-year project and started writing new ideas in 2016, there has not been a single month that’s gone by without me writing, and yet, here we are.
There are a lot of competing factors in this. The biggest one is definitely work, and I want to preface this with saying that I love my job. I really, really do. I’m blessed to have incredible coworkers that have become friends, work that I actually enjoy doing, and a company that I not only support in their research, but am excited about. My job is amazing, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s also a lot.
In January, we expanded our space from 5000 sq ft to 18,000, and it’s been a big adjustment for everyone. For me, that’s widened the scope of my job from a small office to a fairly big one. I was hired as a kind of catch-all for admin assistance, but it’s quickly become much bigger than that, and my job now spreads across several different departments. The pace of it reminds me a lot of retail in that I’m constantly moving and pivoting to new projects, and while I love it, it is a pretty big departure from how I spent the five years prior to it.
It’s not just my day job, though. I also teach yoga twice a week, and while a few years ago, that would have meant that I got home at 7ish instead of 6ish, it now means getting home around 8:30PM. And I know that’s not late, but when you’ve worked all day, climbed for two hours, and taught yoga for an hour, by the time you get home and get settled, it’s past 9PM, and you’ve got a long day ahead of you, and you just want to go to bed. And the very last thing I want to do at 9PM when I’m home after a thirteen-hour day is write. Truly, all I want to do is curl up with my cats and read for a couple hours. I have so little time during the day to read, and all of my chores end up happening on the weekend that those hours at night are the only time that I have to read.
So where does that leave writing?
For the last five years, writing has been a daytime thing for me. I worked an office job where I never really got up from my desk, and I had a lot of free time. It makes sense, looking back, that I was able to write as much as I was. But even when I think back on my retail days, I know that I wrote on days that I worked, too. I know that I was squirreling away time at night, or scribbling across sticky notes during downtime. I know that I found time to write then, too, so I keep asking myself what’s changed that I can’t–or won’t, probably–find time for it now.
I think I’m just tired. If we’re being honest, it’s unrealistic that most people work a forty hour week. Even if that’s your slated hours, you don’t do it. Over the pandemic, when companies allowed their employees to work from home, a lot of people were forced to grabble with this because they had to account for all eight hours of their day, and it suddenly started occurring to everyone that forty hours is bullshit. Think about the small batches of time here and there that you spend talking to your coworkers during the day. I probably spend at least an hour every day just chatting with them, whether it’s in five minutes spurts on my way running through the office, or if it’s lunch dragging a little longer. Think about the quick few minutes you spend scrolling social media. A solid chunk of us get those Apple updates telling us how much screen time we’ve averaged each day, and mine’s at five hours, so I’m finding those five hours to be in front of my phone somehow. There’s no way to work forty hours straight, and yet, I’ve been managing it throughout January.
I will admit, things are starting to slow down now. We’ve settled into a rhythm, and now that the chaos of moving so many people and large pieces of equipment as fast as we could has come to an end, we’re starting to figure out how to exist in this new space. And I do have time again. It’s Monday morning as I’m drafting this, and though I have a meeting later today, I’m also organizing a hot chocolate bar as a Valentine’s surprise for my boys, and I’m probably going to spend an hour in my car returning things and picking up the hot chocolate. I do think that I’ll be able to get back to a space where I have time to write occasionally at work, and I’m really hoping so because I noticed something big this weekend.
On Saturday, I went to one of my favorite cafés in Beverly, Atomic, and instead of bringing a book, I brought my laptop. I am sick to death of not writing, so I thought if I just forced myself to write with no other option, then that’s what I’d do. And it was exactly what happened. I finished a scene I’d been in the middle of several weeks ago, and I wrote another scene, and though I know that I need to beef up both of those, I wrote for the first time in two months, and you know what happened after that?
I went clothes shopping. I spent two hours at Atomic, and then I went off to Target, where I tried on a few pairs of jeans, despaired at their horrible patterns in shirts, bought three pairs of new jeans, and then went to TJ Maxx, not once, but twice! I got five new sweaters and a new shirt, and after probably five hours out and about, I decided it was time to head home. I’d also taught yoga that morning and food shopped, but I was feeling pretty good, so Erin and I hopped on video earlier than usual, and we knocked out the last three episodes of Midnight Mass together.
Usually, when I wake up on Sunday, I’m exhausted. But when I woke up this Sunday, I was still feeling really good, so I made breakfast, read a little, and hopped into a day of cooking & baking. I wanted to make heart-shaped rice krispies for the boys at work to go with our hot chocolate bar, so I started in on those, which required three batches, and while those cooled, I meal prepped for lunch and dinner, went back to the krispies to decorate them with melted chocolate and a piping bag, and then made bread. I was tired when I was done, but I still had a ton of energy to hop on a two-hour call with Sara to see her and the baby before I finally tucked in for bed.
Are you noticing a trend? Because I did. Even right now, I’m feeling pretty good. It’s Monday morning, and I’m not tired. I think, even after I teach tonight and get home around 9PM, I still won’t be the kind of hellishly tired that I’ve been over the last several weeks, and I honestly do think that’s solely because I wrote this weekend. It’s the only difference in my every day chaos, and it’s always been the thing that’s given me the most release and relief, so it makes sense that it’s the thing that cut through that fog of exhaustion and woke me the hell up again.
I’m not even sure what I’m trying to say here. Obviously that I need to be writing again because it’s good for my mental health, and hopefully I can find the time to do that at work, but even if I can’t, I need to make time for it elsewhere. I’ve always said this, too, and I’ll continue to say this. It’s not about finding time, it’s about making time, and if I want to finish Andrew’s insane story this year, I need to make the time to write it. I miss writing so much, and now that things are starting to slow down a bit at work, I’m going to make time to write again. Clearly, I need to.