For the first time in what seems like a very long time, I’m sitting down to write a blog post with nothing huge on the immediate agenda. It amazes me that in the beginning, I wrote six days per week in Middle Passages. Now, I’m lucky if I post twice over the course of seven days. In the last several months I have learned I’m not a good multi-tasker. I tend to want to focus on one thing until it is finished and then move on, and when life involves a variety of stop and start responsibilities, being a uni-tasker isn’t such a good thing. But I’m learning.
Putting aside the distraction of last recitals and concerts, proms and graduation, family parties and part-time work, best I can tell things became more difficult in the juggling arena when I accepted the request to blog twice monthly at South Shore Living magazine. Coming up with topics and writing about them has been rewarding and fun. However the responsibility of completing those posts on deadline swallows me whole, to the degree that I struggle to write much about anything else until I’m done with the SSL blog posts. I’m ahead of the game right now; the editor has two of my pieces she has yet to publish…I’m pretty sure she’s got limited resources, and it seems like the Web is a secondary citizen to the print magazine. No complaints, as it gives me this little breather. Besides, that same busy editor offered me a real live paying article, and I’d be a liar if I told you that I can’t wait to see it in print in the July edition of the magazine.
In addition to the SSL writing, I have joined a group of folks who took the same fiction workshop I did this spring to form a writing group that meets twice a month. Prior to each session, two writers submit their work to the rest of the group to review and we spend our time together critiquing and offering suggestions. In all the best ways, this feels like being back at school—concentrating on the writing, or the reading, and learning from others. It is a joy to sit in a circle and converse with people who are as engaged and connected to writing as me, and a relief for once, to move forward with the process of improving the words, without having to justify the passion.
Along with the commitment to the writer’s group, things are about to get a bit more complex, as I agreed to write a weekly public relations update to appear in our town newspaper for our Council on Elder Affairs, starting this week. This is a paying job too, and highlights the value of networking. Soon after the corporate ax removed my head, I began volunteering at a weekly breakfast for the seniors in our community. When word spread that I was starting a freelance writing business, they hired me to write two brochures. Now they’ve contracted me to communicate the good work that happens at the Center as they begin a capital campaign to acquire funds to build a new building. When I arrived at my first volunteer day and splattered myself with warm frosting from a coffee cake, and dropped my tea pot, I had no thought that it would lead to this opportunity. It was worth the sticky pants and a broken kettle.
To be honest though, through all of this, the fiction writing suffers. Although when I lay awake at night I think about my characters and how their stories will progress; those developments have failed to make it to the page. I know myself though. When the summer ends way too soon, when college preparation is complete, when there is one less place to set at the table, I’ll be looking for a solid distraction. Then I’m pretty sure I’ll find it easy to immerse myself.