Making Time

The other day as I was wrapping up a phone interview, my subject asked where I was phoning her from. Well, I was calling her from my office, I explained, the law office where I work full time. It’s my lunch hour; I write on the side.

Oh, she said, it’s nice that you have time to do that.

This comment really got my goat. My hackles raised and I felt so … belittled. It’s nice that you have time to spend on your little hobby – I’m too busy doing important things, she meant.

Hey, guess what lady, I felt like saying, I DON’T have time to write. Who the fuck does? Most writers MAKE time, they don’t HAVE it. Unless you’ve got that big advance and you can sit around in your jammies all day writing, you’re MAKING time. We also don’t FIND time. That suggests a happy coincidence, rather than a deliberate decision. And guess what else? Making time SUCKS. I make time to write by getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning, and saying no to invitations, and skipping my workout, and not cleaning my apartment, and ignoring my own well-being, and sometimes sacrificing the goodwill of family and friends. I do it because I LIKE it and it MATTERS.

Luckily most of my friends and family accept it. Even more luckily, they mostly encourage it.

But you know, it’s not just writing I’ve heard this kind of shitty back-handed compliment applied to. People say it about all kinds of pursuits. Oh, I wish *I* had time to: knit, read, make art, go to the gym, they’ll say, trivializing whatever you’re doing that they aren’t. But these are not little hobbies. These are meditations, and downtime, and self-care, and political acts. This stuff is important. You MAKE time.

6 thoughts on “Making Time

  1. Nice post. I like the distinction. I too choose to make time for things that matter to me and most people don’t get it because their lives are too compartmentalized and focused on have-tos rather than want-tos. In the end, I think we are happier for it – understood, or not. Thanks for sharing.

  2. YES. Take these people and put them in a hot air balloon basket with the people who glance at your art/writing/creative endeavor and chirp, “Oh, how fun!” Send the balloon up into the stratosphere. Keep doing what you do.

  3. Yes. I’ve also felt like this. Once, when I told a friend I had to work on my blog, she replied, “But that’s just for fun, right?” I didn’t know how to respond.

  4. I wrote when I worked full time, helped the child bride about the house and “raised” two kids. I stayed up until I couldn’t see the computer screen and once woke at 5:30 with a face imprinted with keyboard. But I wrote. I got distracted by life for a while but then retired and took the child bride on a year of travels to de-stress and recover my mental and physical health. Now I have the “time” and the energy to write and it consumes large lumps of that time. But it’s not a hobby or a pastime. It’s what I do. It’s who I am. Writing is such an intensely personal thing that “civilians” will likely not understand. They probably relate it to the terror they felt when faced Sunday evening with a blank sheet of paper standing between them and a 1500 word essay due for Monday English Comp. Writers complain that the short story contest they wish to enter LIMITS them to 1500 words.

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