When I was a lawyer, work weekends were my worst nightmare. They meant several all-nighters in a row, lousy food, sleeping on my office sofa, begging the partner on Monday morning for a half hour to go home and shower, only to have him say, “When you’re done, you go home.”
These days, the possibility of a work weekend fills me with glee–and fear.
Like this weekend. My hubby and son are doing tons of father-son stuff, so I essentially have an entire weekend to myself.
The cat’s away.
And part of me just wants to play, to escape to a beach spa, get massages, sip dirty martinis while gazing at the crashing surf.
The rest of me plans to write all weekend. The house will be largely silent (except for the howls of our massive German Shepherd Dog, who can only go so long without being given a task–chasing a ball, cornering a squirrel, warning me about the ancient man hobbling by across the street). I’ve cleared my schedule. There will be no lunches, dinners, coffees with friends. No grading student papers, no doing laundry, no grocery shopping, no cooking and freezing meals for the week.
I will be alone, with my work. Which terrifies me.
Since my son was born ten years ago, I’ve rarely allowed myself the luxury of doing nothing but write for days. In fact, I’ve only done it once, last November, when I went by myself to my family’s cabin in the mountains of Pennsylvania and wrote for four days. The change of setting was inspiring. I discovered connections in my short story collection that I wouldn’t have realized existed. I journaled and outlined and rewrote. It was invigorating, to discover that I still had the ability to focus on my writing for hours of uninterrupted time.
I want to recreate that idyllic weekend of work. But there’s an essential difference about this coming weekend: I’ll be home, in my own environment. Which makes it more likely that I’ll allow my inner control freak, along with the rational side of my brain (my two most evil critics), to interrupt all that alone time in their loudest, most obnoxious voices.
Why waste a whole weekend on this writing…thing, they’ll say. You’ll just spend hours staring at a blank screen or, worse, writing crap.
And suddenly all those regular distractions–the student papers, the laundry, the grocery shopping, the cooking, those things I vowed not to tackle this weekend–they’ll look so much better by comparison. Might as well get them done. Just so I don’t have to worry about them come the beginning of the week. Just get them out of the way and then get back to writing. Really.
And iced tea, I’ll have to get iced tea. I can’t function without caffeine. I’ll leave my office just for an hour or two, get some tea at a cafe, bring my computer along. Maybe do some people watching, chat with some regulars. Don’t want to be rude, after all. The work will get done. Later. It will.
That’s not the way I want this weekend to go. I want to actually get words on paper. I want my ass-in-the-chair time to add up, to mean something.[bctt tweet=”Time to ignore my inner control freak & rediscover the playfulness and joy of creating.”]So this morning I reread “The Art of Submission: Committing to the Work” by Emily Lackey. In it, Lackey talks about not going to AWP this year and instead resolving to take that weekend and write. Which didn’t happen. And which made her realize something essential:
Sometimes we need something (a plane ticket, a hotel reservation, a strict deadline) to force us to stay in our seats, to face our computers, to do the damn work…[because] to not commit ourselves to our writing in small ways—to not commit our time or our money or our weekends off from work—is to not commit to it in all of ways that matter.
Commitment. That’s what this weekend is missing. My steadfast commitment to my work.
So now I’m writing this post to remind myself what this weekend is about. It’s about finishing a book I’ve been working on for years. About living fully with my characters, giving them the space and time in my mind and heart to emerge as the flawed, fully formed human beings they’ve been longing to be.
It’s about ignoring my inner control freak and rational brain and rediscovering the playfulness and joy of creating, the unexpected turns a story can take if I release the responsibilities and anxieties crowding my mind and let my imagination roam.
Wish me luck.
Place here an image gallery shortcode (Add Media → Create Gallery) or video-page URL starting with http://
I hope it went well and you got tons of words on paper!