Follow-up to Thursday’s Writing post

On Thursday I wrote about making time for writing, and in the comments I mentioned I would be trying an experiment on Friday (yesterday): to treat my art-making as a full-time job. I’ve often lamented how I’d get so much more done if only real life didn’t get in the way — so this experiment was a chance to prove it. The plan was to work for 8 hours, taking only half an hour of that time for necessary emails, and excluding half an hour for lunch. I figured that in 8 hours I could do my morning pages, write, post the Open Mic entry I’d written the day before, wash my newest FabMo fabrics, go over several writing-related items on my action list, and maybe even find time for painting and crafting.

So… (I feel as if I’m always saying this) it worked and it didn’t work. I had a hugely productive first 5.5 hours of the day. I got the morning pages, Open Mic, fabric-washing, and 2.5 hours of writing done. I even checked off some of the actions, including starting on a writing residency application and typing up some VONA thoughts I’d written out in a notebook. But after that, my mind and body just crashed. As I stared at my screen, I realized I was so written-out that I was having trouble composing emails; I couldn’t even think of revising a piece I was trying to return to. My wrists throbbed from all the typing, and I had to take a lengthy stretch break, during which I realized there was no way I could do any painting or sewing during the remainder of the day. (Later on my shoulders and upper back also hurt, but I don’t know whether that’s because of the sitting or because I’d been lifting weights the day before.) Well, then what? I matched some fabrics together for making yoga mat totes, and put the new fabrics away, but that was about all I was good for.

I’m not sure what to make of this experiment. Does this mean I’m not capable of working 8-hour days at the work I’ve chosen? As Erik likes to point out, most people’s 8-hour work days usually contain plenty of filler (meetings, red tape, and so forth), so that an actual 8 hours of daily work isn’t really the norm. Or does this mean I just need to break up the work more? I could do a morning of writing and then take a walk after lunch, as Virginia Woolf used to do; maybe that would be enough to reinvigorate me for an afternoon’s exertions. Or perhaps I could endeavor to find work-related activities that don’t tax my hands (if any exist, and I’m not at all sure they do). Or I could just spend the rest of the 8 hours reading, and call that foundation work for writing, so I can let myself off the hook. I shrug at all this.

More worrying is how badly I slept last night. Possibly this isn’t related to the work, but the work didn’t improve the situation; thoughts ran through my head all night like mice on a wheel. Self-portrait… graphic novel… dance class… artist date… visiting friends… I’m apparently awake now but my head is still spinning with too many thoughts. As always, yesterday, real life did intrude on my work, in the form of emails and phone calls from my mom and my sister. My grandpa’s health hasn’t been good this year, and it’s gotten to the point where my mom and aunt are going today to look at cemeteries. My sister and I are going to visit Gong-Gong tomorrow for the first time in a month at least, and I’m not sure what to expect. At this point, it’s impossible to say when we’ll see him again… or whether. I want to assure him I’m going to write our family history, and I want to tell him that he’s always had a place in my heart and in my life, even if after I left childhood we were never easy chums in the same way we once were. But I don’t know how to say this, and I’m afraid I won’t get another chance.

Lisa and Gong-Gong

Gong-Gong and me

And my sister and I want to do something for our mom, who’s been spending hours each day taking care of her dad. When someone is sick, it seems like the well members of the family are always an afterthought, but that’s not right either; caretaking can be just as exhausting as being ill, even if technically you’re better off. We plan to make dinner for our parents tomorrow night, but that seems like such a little drop in the bucket.

I skipped my dance class this morning (forfeiting payment) because the night just left me so drained. I think I’m going to spend some of today working, too, because rest seems so hard to come by. I might make a painting for my grandpa, if I can think of an appropriate subject.