Monday, August 18, 2008

What did you do all weekend?

So, hubby type person took the kiddies camping for the weekend. It sounds like they had a ball. They left Friday afternoon and are due back here in a few hours.

Yes, dear friends, I had the whole lovely weekend to myself. I couldn’t even talk to the kids on the phone because the reception was bad, so my communication with the family was relegated to hubby’s text messages via my email.

Once they got on the highway, he called to let me know where they were, what they did all weekend, etc. etc… and after a glorious recap of the friends my daughter made (my ten year old can and will make friends anywhere, she was invited to other people’s camps for dinner and even to a birthday party after having been there barely a day… of course, he couldn’t let her go off with people he just met, still she found it nice to be asked… she even garnered the whole family an invitation to spend the evening with another family at their campfire…she’s a trip, that one)

Anywhoo, after his glorious recap he asked what I did all weekend.

I wrote. I noodled my current wip a lot, I wrote, I deleted, I wrote some more… I made notes, I looked up some things, I played online and checked in at blogs… I wrote… That’s what I did pretty much all weekend.

To which he asked, okay, you wrote, but did you buy the kids school supplies?

Umn, no. Not yet. I’ll go this week, I guess.

Did you clean out their rooms? Did you organize the house? Did you stock up on groceries? Did you balance the checkbook or anything?

No… I did not. I thought about it, and then I passed. Listen, I have to do all of those things, I even thought I’d get to some of them this weekend, but no… I did some laundry… but, yanno, the machine can run while I’m still writing. I didn’t cook I didn’t clean I did nothing that would resemble work for the household, it was all about writing. I wrote. That’s what I did.

Huh… hubby replied, a bit taken back. And then he bit his tongue, which was a wiser decision than he knows. He will come home, look around the still somewhat disorganized household, and wonder why he married such a lazy woman.

Guess what… I don’t care. I wrote. It’s very rare that I get the chance to just think about the writing from sun up to sun down… I took it. I get that he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t see any progress there, he only hears me say that I wrote but since there’s no promotion or paycheck involved I might as well tell him I spent the weekend drunk or zoning out in front of the tv.

And usually I feel very guilty when I spend that kind of time on my writing and not with the kids or on other people’s stuff. But I’m not doing it today. I can get in the cleaning later. Hell, they can help me clean – they live here, too.

So how about you guys? What did you do with your weekend? And do you feel guilty spending time on your writing when it’s not the job that pays the bills? Does your spouse support you in your writing and see that time as valid?


Stephen Parrish said...

There's a reason writers get together in online forums like this blog: the people around us don't understand what we do, or what it takes to do it, or why we bother, or anything.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Stephen,

Yes, that's exactly why I blog and why I frequent writing blogs - you guys are my writing community. My real world family and friends don't really get it... though I have a hunch my daughter will later, if not as a writer, then as an artist of some sort.

I've been waiting for your next political blog... I'm wondering what your take is on our candidates and their stances, or lack thereof.

Zoe Winters said...

I'm very very lucky in that my closest non writing friends and my husband all think the writing thing is "cool beyond cool." So I get a lot more moral support I think than most writers do.

This weekend and now through Wednesday I'm on a bit of a writer vacation. No writing, no editing, no business plan stuff. Of course I can't seem to keep my fingers out of all those pots, but I'm trying to be more laid back about it. And I'm still blogging, but I've got like fifty-something blogs lined up ready to go in the queue.

When work and play are close to the same thing, it can be hard to take a break. But I still need to sometimes, to recharge.

Stephen Parrish said...

My original comment was much longer, and employed the word "goddamn" six or seven times. I deleted it in deference to your DH, who I don't know well enough to couple with the word "goddamn."

No candidate is perfect. Once again I'll be voting for the lesser of two evils. However, in this case Obama is the much much much much much much much much much much much much lesser.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Zoe,

You know, I have friends who do think it's cool, but don't really 'get' it the same way writers do... and you'd think my family would be pretty supportive, considering that my mother is a writer, and has made her living writing for most of her life. She's writing her first full length novel now (she's never written fiction before) and really, I can't discuss it with her - she wants me to, but I cannot give her the same critical honest feedback I'd give to my writing friends because she's still in mom mode so I think what she really wants is a backpat and I just can't do it... not because it's not good (she's actually waaaay more talented than I am) but because my job in beta reading is to point out the flaws, otherwise I'm sending it out to the publishing world knowing that the author has their proverbial slip showing.

Wow, that was long and windy. At any rate, my husband does not understand writing at all, and really isn't interested... which is an odd thing because, as you point out, my chosen profession is also the thing I most enjoy.

You're very lucky to have the support.

Hi Stephen,

You could've used jag off and worse, hubby doesn't read the blog. Seriously. Not ever. I actually find that rather freeing. I don't say anything on here that he should get upset about anyway, but this is kind of my own domain and I don't have to worry about eye rolls or anything.

Lesser of two evils, huh? About five months ago I would've agreed with you - but Obama is making me more contentious and less trusting every time I hear him speak... and he's a great speaker and I so want to believe him, if only his rhetoric didn't make it apparent that he thinks most of America is moronic...

ugh... sorry, venting. I dislike the carefully crafted answers that aren't answers. Every appearance at this point should be looked at as a job interview - he's the one applying. When he's asked who his top advisors will be, saying his mom or wife strikes me as worse than glib. Would you list your mom and wife on your resume references? It's a serious question, and he shouldn't be hiding the people he will trust to help him run the country. It's something he should be relatively forthright about.

That's just one thing. They're mounting daily, and believe me when I tell you, it saddens me more than I can say.

Zoe Winters said...

Ha! about the slip showing thing, exactly!

Mom In Scrubs said...

Hi Merry!

While I've never taken a weekend to write, I can totally identify with you here. I can't even count how many times I have been given that same, "So what did you do all day?" line. Grrr. What annoys me more is that I can't use that line on him!! Whatever he does, he can twist it and make it a "for the family" activity in some way....whereas my personal activities are completely self-serving. Fortunately I don't have much of a guilty conscience.

Ah, serves me right for marrying a guy who was on the debate club in high school!

Travis Erwin said...

My wife is understanding of my writing time but other often ask her if she get mad at me for "wasting" so much time. She is steadfast in her defense of me and I appreciate her faith and loyalty that I am not wasting time.

Sun Singer said...

I can always justify my day to myself, though I seldom think about such things until somebody else asks what I've been doing.

It's hard to describe what I've been doing because it doesn't fit neatly into most people's conceptions of work. I built a world, then I got a bad cold and slept a lot.

Glad you found the time and put off the household chores until later.


Gary Corby said...

I want to put in a vote of thanks to my wife, from whom I get utterly fantastic support for my writing. Beyond a doubt I'd be earning a whole lot more money if I spent the same time doing something else, but we're comfortable enough that we know I can do this and still support the family.

It probably helps that she used to be a partner in a law firm, who gave it up to run her own dressmaking business, so she gets the importance of doing what you love.

It's a bit trickier with our girls, who think Daddy spends too much time in front of the computer, and I do get the guilts about that sometimes. I compensate (I hope) by spending every minute I'm not working or writing with them.

I know what you mean about friends and relatives not getting it. Either that, or they have wildly wrong ideas about what it's like to be a writer.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mom in Scrubs,

I think that's pretty universal for moms, to feel that the time we spend just for us is selfish... I'm not sure if we put that on ourselves or the people around us do... I think probably a bit of both.

Next time he asks what you did all day, tell him you solved that pesky world peace problem, but the nitwit men running the countries aren't listening...


Having read even a small bit of your wip and blogs I can honestly say, your wife's belief in you is well placed... but, tell her that I said she rocks!!!!

Hi Malcolm,

Thanks for stopping in - I hope you're doing okay. Yeah, there is that - writing fiction doesn't exactly fit into what most people call work.

"What did you do all day?

Oh, you know, killed a couple of people, planned a robbery, blew up a bridge or two... the usual."

Yeah, I can see your average CPA scratching his head at that answer...

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the visit. I just found you on twitter and I'll be round to check out your blog soon. And yes, definitely, I think a lot of non-writers have a completely skewed perception of what a writing life is like.

People seem to think that once I sell my first book I won't need a regular job... trying to explain that most writers don't earn enough to live on and the ones who do build up to it... well, they don't get that. Never mind trying to explain the whole hunting for an agent or way that advances work... forget it... I'd rather not explain.

Colleen_Katana said...

GOOD FOR YOU!!!! You do not have to validate your relaxing, lazy weekend!!

My weekend, consisted of way too much alcohol. Seriously. It'll be a while before I drink that much Guinness again. Well, at least until Tuesday morning, when my plane lands in Dublin....

Kel-Bell said...

The founder of a company called "Young Isaac" said, (and I am paraphrasing from memory here,)

"Write three pages in long hand every morning before you start your day. Then when you go to work, you will have already accomplished something you can feel very good about before most folks even finish their first cup of coffee. It's pure magic. It allows you to sprint into your day with a clear mind and a three page accomplishment already under your belt. The word Abracadabra, by the way, is ancient Aramaic, and literally translates to 'I create through the written word, and writing is a key component to all forms of creativity. This daily discipline is the touch stone to make dreams come true.”

With inspiration like that, I say "Dirty Dishes be Damned!"

On a side note: greetings to you all. My name is Kelley, (Droning group reply: “Hi Kelley”) and I am a writing addict. I just found this blog, and hope to get to know you all a lot better in weeks to come as we all peruse our penchants for procrastination and prose.

Carpe diem!

jjdebenedictis said...

That sounds like an awesome weekend! I'm glad you got a bunch done and you don't feel guilty about it. Why should you? You're a writer!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Colleen,

I hope you enjoy your time in Ireland, and write all about it, of course! Though I think you'll be seeing a lot of Guinness there.

Hi Kelley,

Thanks for stopping in - I was perusing your blog the other day, too, and it's awesome. You might really like Stephen Parrish's blog, too - writing and politics and the discussions can go very long and very thought-provoking... what more could you want?

I did not know that's what Abracadabra meant - now I have an urge to paint it on a sign and hang it above my desk! The three page philosophy is a good one, too, though I think a lot of us writers would have to restrain the urge to edit while we work... otherwise that morning activity can go a little long.

Hi JJ,

How have you been? How are you getting along on your current wip?

ChrisEldin said...

Hi Merry,

This is near and dear to me as well. Yes, the eye rolling. Not a lot. Well, not as much as it used to be. It's funny because DH is supportive in so many other ways...always asking about what I'm writing, taking the kids, etc. But it's when I'm sitting there, and the house needs something (or the kids or him)---I'm going to start going to the library to write. Seriously.

And the sad thing is I don't think he realizes he does that. But it takes time to get in the writing zone (I know I don't have to explain that to other writers), and if I'm cringing just waiting to hear "Mom!" or "Hey Chris, where's the mail?" or "Why don't we have any milk in the house" or some such...
Why am I ranting?

This is your rant.

Girlfriend, I heart this post.
I heart my husband too, but he doesn't get the process.

Kel-Bell said...

Hey, are you guys and gals fans of Miss Snark?

If so, shes got a NEW BLOG up and running!

Its called Query Shark. She wants us aspiring writers to "be her Chums."

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Chris,

This is a rant zone - feel free to join in anytime, you're more than welcome.

I do think there is something about writing that non-writers just don't get...

Hi Kelley,

I think everyone here frequents query shark, but it's Janet Reid's side blog. And, yes, I've heard the rumors about Janet being Miss Snark, but as she's said it's not her I'm going to go with that.

Thanks though, for pointing it out, it's a great blog. I met most of the blog buddies you'll see in my blogroll from Miss Snark's and a few other agent blogs... and there are agent and editor blogs at the top of my blogroll that you might like if you haven't seen them already.

Mary Witzl said...

Good for you, Merry, taking that chance and running with it! Save the chores for when the people who make the most of the mess are around. The guilt, by the way, decreases over the years. Or so it has with me.

What did I do all weekend? I was a martyr: I weathered a long visit from the outlaws. And every chance I could, I slunk away to the computer and got some writing in.

My husband is supportive of my writing to a point. Only recently, he has started reading my blog and (verbally) commenting on it. He likes some of the fiction I write and is an astute and discriminating reader, which I find a huge help, as long as he doesn't start getting the idea that he can get me to rewrite things his way, which drives me wild. All in all, I think he does pretty well. But the outlaws can't bear to think about my writing and it is the Activity that Dare Not Speak its Name around here. It's pretty funny: they keep telling my husband how good a letter writer he is -- how he really ought to get something published.

Anonymous said...

The people around me will all tell you how supportive they are. Emotionally, they're kind and critical and read what I write consistently. But as for having the same respect they had when I was teaching and tutoring? No way. If my parents take our kids for the weekend, my husband assumes that the weekend will be couple time the WHOLE time. He doesn't get that writing whenever there's a free five minutes is not conducive to great work.

Right now, I'm just trying to imagine a weekend to myself. It's right up there with my winning the lottery fantasy.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Mary,

You know, it's okay that he's not supportive of the writing, it just bugs me when he thinks I'm lazy because I didn't do housework... when he's off of work, he lays around and putters in the garage... I don't think he's lazy because he left the dishes in the sink.

Don't be such a martyr, Mary! Take some time for yourself when you can, especially since you've got so much to do with the move, I hope you at least take a little time for you.

Hi Jersey,

I feel you - mine are starting to get old enough to let me think uninterrupted for more than five seconds, but it was a lot of years of that and it's hard. I couldn't think when I was interrupted all the time like that... I still hate taking them shopping, because they're all asking for stuff or pointing to things or needing to be watched, and I forget half the stuff I came in there for. :-)

Josephine Damian said...

My attitude toward housework is: I'll clean when I get ready to put house on the market. Till then, pig-sty city.

Over the years, a great many things have fallen away to make time to write. I have no use for anyone who doesn't get/support my ambition to be a published author.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hey Josie,

Cleaning wouldn't be such a big deal if there weren't four other people making messes and raising the laundry level... the kids can't help it - they're not old enough to use the washer yet.

As far as, I have no use for anyone who doesn't get/support my ambition to be a published author. I loooove that attitude... and I'm almost to that point myself. sigh.