The Gift of Time

I’ve recently been given a gift.

We’ve managed to get my mother-in-law booked into day care for two days a week. Mum lives with us and suffers from acute Alzheimer’s but anyone who is responsible for an ageing relative will understand what this turn of events really means.  I have been presented with that most valuable of commodities – long, uninterrupted tracts of time. I can hardly believe it.

Once I get used to the idea that I won’t be disturbed I have to decide what to do with all this time. As a writer, I should be spending these carefree hours writing, and the to-do list is getting longer. I should make the most of it, but it’s easy to let general life stuff get in the way. Laundry, shopping, exercise, reading, meeting friends; they all have their place, but they need managing. Procrastination is not my friend and displacement activities are just a waste of time. I wrote a post about how I do this last year:

I appreciate that time alone is important for the writer and in the past I have occasionally taken myself off for a couple of days on retreats and residential writing courses and would definitely say I’d benefited from these periods away from the daily routine. The enforced absence from the daily grind gave me a new perspective and I was much more productive as a result.

So these two days without the responsibility of caring for my mother in law are very precious and I can’t waste a moment, but sometimes too much of a good thing is absolutely paralysing. They say that work expands to fill the amount of time available but that’s once you’ve started. One of my biggest difficulties is deciding which project should take priority and what to do first.

Here’s what I’ve got on the go at the moment:

  • The current novel, which is only a quarter written.
  • Weekly homework for the writing group.
  • A self-help book for carers that I’ve been mulling over.
  • A short story for a competition with a looming deadline.
  • An idea for an erotic novella that’s simmering on the back burner.
  • Collecting and collating interesting material for blog posts, Facebook and Twitter.

My default position is reading, so first of all, a lot of effort has to go into not picking up the current book, making a cup of tea and losing myself in someone else’s life. It’s where I habitually go to escape, but even this is difficult with the constant disruptions. But today Mum isn’t here. I don’t need to escape. I can inhabit my own life without fear of interruption.

It’s a heady thought.


12 thoughts on “The Gift of Time

  1. That’s an interesting list Maggie and you should trust your instinct to make a first choice of which writing task to tackle. With the deadline for the short story, I’d get that out of the way. Can you not fit group homework with a writing session you would already do? Two tasks in one as it were? Good luck and enjoy your well deserved ‘me’ time x

  2. However you spend your newly acquired time Maggie, it is going to be your time, not shred time and that is precious. I am sure once the novelty and paralysis wears off you will fall into the new space with gusto and make use of it in ways to relax and excite you. Go with the flow. Enjoy and remember it is your time. Time is a limited gift for us all. ❤

      • I know it will. It is hard but who is going to look after you if you don’t look after yourself. Have a blast and make the most of it all ❤

      • Oh how wonderful. I have put another jumper on. 🙂 Happy editing. Chrissie and I have just returned the latest (and last we hope) round of edits to our publisher for Only One Woman. 🙂

      • Very wintery here too, but indoor pool nicely heated. Good luck with OOW, looking forward to it. I’ve just been fiddling around with a new banner for Breaking News. Will reveal soon 🙂

      • Brrr so glad indoors. One of my brothers (lives in USA) often goes to Finland on business and has me shivering just hearing about the sauna, the roll in the snow and the thrashing with twigs before jumping into an icy lake prior to his business meetings – called bonding! Not what I’d call it. 🙂 Enjoy. Oh love to see the banner when you get it done. Breaking News is such as fab title and I look forward to reading it. So exciting. Sunshine here now it is late.Typical. I hope you are enjoying you free time and going with the flow 🙂

      • The mind boggles – all those middle aged men running around naked and rolling in the snow. I need to sit down for a moment. Too much to contemplate. 🙂

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