Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Buffet Time

Lots of stuff to click on and an answer:

Seems like award season has seriously hit the literary arts. Here's just a few of the award finalists mentioned around the place.

The reason I'm happy to list these awards is because they help build reading lists writers should be reading. Not only do we need to read what's come before (an incredible backlist in any chosen genre which will fill a lifetime of reading on its own), but we need to stay in touch with what is considered really good at the moment. Do yourself a favour and scan the lists, and then pick one to buy. Remember that buying a book helps the industry you want to be a part of.

Below I have some links I saved a little while back because I thought they were useful to writers whether they new, emerging (got to love that title - it's like labelling a sportsperson with 'potential'), or seasoned veterans. Some really good points made here - go read.

Last link for this post - Alexandra Sokoloff has been at it again, producing writing lesson posts on her blog which are insightful and extremely educational. Go have a look at the latest one here. At the bottom of the post are the links to all the other writing lessons, but she has recently done some scene and character breakdowns of much loved and hugely iconic films - worth checking out.

Now - the answer - specifically, Ben's answer:

Ben - how much writing are you actually getting done at the moment? I may be way off the mark, and if I am with any of this, I apologise up front, but unless every weekday needs to be used to do something different in your writing, or you spend much of your work day doing writing instead of your real job (guilty as charged on both counts), then you have time to go to uni.

Is the issue writing time, or commitment to better time management to allow you to do study, write, and have a life?

It all comes down to how much you want something, and what you're willing to sacrifice for it - and we all know how much writing is about sacrifice.

My comments on study impinging on my writing is because I have no wish to totally disregard my family. They have shown an unbelievable amount of support for what I'm trying to accomplish - which in the end, is a very selfish thing. So I want to make time to do things with them. I still don't do as much as I probably should, and I feel guilty more often than not because of that, but we all know how writing is a disease, not a whim.

Like you, I work full time at a normal day job. I'm lucky because I have plenty of autonomy to get my job done and get some writing in. If I didn't, I wouldn't be studying because I wouldn't have enough writing time. Of an evening I write most of the time, but sometimes I sit and watch TV with my wife, or simply by myself (or do some reading) so the rest of the family has some computer time. I'm trying to make time to spend with my kids. I play console games with my youngest or discuss homework or whatever. I give her lots of hugs and kisses if I can't manage any other time. I think she knows how much I love her - I hope she does anyway. I want to go and kick the footy with my lad - and I will if he ever manages to get a ball from the coach - or I might just have to go buy one. He's a bit old for hugs and kisses, but I want to share time so he knows I still love him. I take time to listen to my wife's day and occasionally do jigsaw puzzles with her. We always wind up the evening by watching a little TV together - if I can drag myself away from the keyboard before she goes to sleep. I love her more now than the day we meet, but I feel I take her for granted sometimes and that's not a good thing. (Now I'll probably be in trouble for revealing too much personal life...)

The point is, I have to share myself around a number of individuals. I don't really have friends other than those online. None of the other people I know in real life have the same writing interests. I play sport during summer and have friends there, but I don't have contact with them outside of the sporting arena - that's my choice. I'd rather have that time to write.

I allocate a couple of days a week to getting coursework done. I've made a commitment to it, both financially, professionally, and personally. I hate starting something and not finishing it. So I've sacrificed some writing time to get it done. I rearrange my schedule so I still get some writing done and some reading in - otherwise why bother, but if I couldn't write a little at work as well, then I wouldn't do it.

So, for you, it comes down to what you can give up of your social life. I know you can't write at work due to them locking everything down. You may not have the freedom I currently enjoy either. I believe you have a partner, who you must not take for granted, and who is currently supportive of your writing (which is great).

So you need to decide on how much you want to continue with your current social schedule, because that is where the sacrifice must come from - and that probably includes your political involvement. I know you're passionate about that side of things, but it becomes a question of how many passions you can support and be totally committed to. It's great for successful writers to support politicians or animal rights groups or any other cause they deem worthy, but it's a lot harder for an up and comer.

Now I know this comes across as a lot of telling rather than suggesting, but then sometimes things just need to be laid out. If we want to write, we must make sacrifices. If we want to study as well, then more sacrifices need to be made, otherwise we will not finish what we start. We still need to work a day job, and we still need to care for our loved ones. I whinge about the study, but I am learning, but at the same time it isn't for everyone.

Ask yourself:

Why do you want to study?
Can you give up some things to make the time, and not resent giving them up three or four years down the track?
Can you give your partner enough time?
Will you still have enough time to maintain your current writing output (and you need to be honest here)?

If this lengthy answer is stepping over the boundary of friendship, or even that of faceless advisor, then feel free to tell me so and I'll happily delete this section of the post and never go there again, but I thought if my rambling is having an effect on your decision, then I should address it and put some real light on things.

That's more than enough from me for today.


  1. I find myself sometimes saying the words "life gets in the way" but when you think about it, it only got in the way because I let it. Sacrifice, discipline and dedication are three words I use to remind myself that if I want to get anywhere I need to put the time in.

  2. Thanks for the answer. No it's not stepping over any lines and it helps.

    I guess I already have a lot on my plate, and the only thing I'd want to give up is work -- which I'm looking at doing anyway in place of another job.

    I couldn't give up any time with my partner because I love that time so muchl; same with politics, which takes priority over everything except my partner (who's involved too anyway so I'm dividing my time so much).

    I can write at work; I always manage to find ways around the blocks.

    If I went to uni, I'd probably want to do it on campus and quit my job, but that would require me to give up the night with my partner which I can't do.

    Why do I want to do uni? Mostly not very good reasons, like thinking I'm missing out if I don't, but missing out on what I don't know.

    Thanks for the answer. I'm leaning toward not giving up anything anytime soon unless I can go without working which isn't really an option with the current AusStudy payments.

  3. D - keep those words close.

    Ben - my sister brought me a lotto ticket for my birthday for this weeks Saturday night draw. If I win the $20m, I'll put in a good word for you to have my job, but you'll have to move to SA.

  4. I have a large immediate family - I'll have bugger all left as it is :c)

  5. writing and family are my two largest commitments (actually, they are my only commitments at this time) My wife knows what I am trying to build up, so she is very understanding at this moment, as long as I can find time to be with the family, especially after she comes home from work. I can't imagine the amount of time that you spend every week on your coursework and job as well as those other two commitments. You are truly a marvel of time management.