Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guest Blogger: Mary Freeman

Don't forget our Keep Angel Company contest! Today we have Mary Freeman guest blogging with us. Besides being one of our chapter mates, she's a really cool lady! Like some of the Playfriends, she juggles writing with family and other work. Let's see how she does it!

As with all writers, I’ve been living in my head for as long as I can remember. I thought that if I did enough, I’d stop daydreaming. So I traveled, spent time in the military, studied art, became a nurse, and had a family. It just created more stories. I gave in. It took me a few years, but I finally joined RWA and Heart of Dixie. Of course, I wondered -why did I wait so LONG? At last I have a group of people with the same need to write those stories that beg to be told.

I am unpublished book wise, but I have a few non-fiction articles published. My heart is in fiction; specifically paranormal. I also like suspense and fantasy. At the moment, I am working on a partial that I going to submit to Harlequin Nocturne.

So here I am ready to write a blog while the Playfriends are away at nationals. (yes, I’m envious, but NEXT year I’m there!). Hmmm, what to do first… Ha! I’ve stolen Instigator’s Horns, taken a page from Problem Child’s file, copied from Smarty Pant’s paper, blown the Play Ground Monitor’s whistle, and thoroughly bothered Angel… I am quite the wild child… I guess the next thing to do is write the BLOG!!!

M.V. Freeman

(Or, Write when you can)


One of the first things as a writer that everyone has to learn is: YOU MUST WRITE. In my dreams I have the whole day to write, in a quiet secluded spot with a candle burning, coffee (or tea) at my side, music softly playing (depending on the story), and no interruptions.
Nice dream. (Are you laughing yet…because that did make me snicker a bit)

The reality is a whole lot different. Like with a majority of writers out there, I work full time in a job that requires a minimum of 45 hours a week, call on some weekends, and a holiday or two. Those dratted bills just don’t go away, no matter how many times I’ve paid them. Add in two girls (ten and seven) who require me to get them to and from school (Why can’t they drive at six?), a husband, and one neurotic cat. For some reason, they like to be fed occasionally. The laundry needs to be done- even if I insist my child wear that shirt one more time. The dishes are always there, although I use paper plates whenever possible. I swear the cups just breed on their own (we can start with two and end up with twenty by the end of the day.) It all equals to a very busy life.

Oh, and there’s the matter of this partial that I have to finish.

How in the world do I write? When do I write? I write when I can. This isn’t about time management, it’s about necessity.

Many years ago while in basic training, I received some invaluable advice from one of my drill sergeants (in one of those rare moments when they weren’t trying to make you cry). He was trying to make all of us understand the importance of the small breaks we would get. They would last anywhere from five minutes to hours. He said “Take any breaks you get and use them”. He illustrated this by talking about his time as a raw recruit. When breaks occurred he and his fellow soldiers would be ordered to “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em” (smoking was accepted then). He added if you didn’t smoke then most everyone else would sit down, shut their eyes and get cat naps because they never knew when they would get the next opportunity to do so. I ignored that advice…but not for long.

Toward the end of basic training we were marched out to the field. Now, consider this, it was a large group of women of varying ages and backgrounds carrying ruck-sacks that weighed anywhere from thirty plus pounds on up walking, sometimes running, for twelve miles. Let’s just say, nary a one made it without vocalizing something. It was only the beginning. There was night training, guard duty rotation, putting up tents (imagine five women, one tent, and a frustrated drill sergeant- I still cringe), digging of foxholes, gas mask drills, physical fitness training, etc. There was little time to relax or sleep. That’s when I understood what my drill sergeant had meant. Anytime a break was called I found that if I leaned against my hated ruck-sack I could get a few minutes of blissful shut-eye. One time, I got about an hour or two, it was heaven.
I still follow that advice, but not with sleeping, with writing. I write at odd hours. If I have a moment, I write because I am not sure when the next time will occur.

I have read that you have to keep a schedule. I am not sure about you, but every time I try a schedule something screws it up. I have to go to work early, I get off late, my children get sick, my cat throws up, I get sick…you know how it goes. Life happens. Sometimes I write just before I go to work, about five-thirty in the morning (I may get 30 minutes). I write at night after the kids are in bed and before I pass out due to pure exhaustion. Still, after a day of getting chewed out at work, coming home to fighting kids, burning dinner, and having a grumpy husband-I just go to bed and don’t write anything. It’s better to start fresh the next day.

At the moment I wrote most of this blog outside as my kids are swimming, my husband is cleaning the patio furniture (I hate cleaning the patio furniture). I am writing when I can and where I can. I am learning to bring my computer on business travel (those dratted layovers) and on family trips.

Before I whine too much, let me just say I am lucky. I have a husband who really helps out. He cooks (ok, we have scrambled eggs and pizza way too many days in a week), does laundry (washes, folds, and puts away. So what if I can never find it? I am NOT complaining), and coerces the kids to help clean the house. He does this because I work long hours and to support my writing. It’s not always perfect, but it’s a gift and I take it as such.

Tell me how you write? When do you write? Do you have support while writing? Is it worth it? For readers, what do you do with those little pockets of time that come your way?

For me, that answer is a resounding yes.

Don't forget to comment! One lucky winner from today's comments will be announced on Saturday.


PM's Mother said...

When I was a young mother my passion was designing and sewing fancy little dresses for my two daughters. Fortunately that was at a time when it didn't take two incomes to keep the household going, so I could sew from the time the girls went to bed 'til the wee hours of the morning. Yes, when they took naps, I took naps. Those dresses didn't come without their drawbacks though; I cussed every time I ironed the puff sleeves and the ruffles. I still hate ironing clothes!

Shari C said...

Hi Mary and thanks for the post. Your life of finding time to write sounds hectic, but interesting. I am sure Angel and all of us who read this blog enjoyed it and can understand the idea of finding a few minutes of "ME" time to do as we desire...bless those few minutes as they are sometimes precious and far between...right.

Thought for the day...Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body,but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO HOO what a ride!'

MaryF said...

I think Sewing is such a gift! I can't sew a stitch, but my mother does. (and about the ironing clothes bit--ug!)Btw, now that my mother has retired she's taken up, of all things, acting! LOL

Shari, I LOVED that thought for the day! I think I am going to post it on above my computer.

KansasSue said...

Morning, Mary! What do I do with those pockets of time? I confess I end up frittering them away, usually by being indecisive about what to do. Should I read or add words between the first and last chapters of my great American novel? Should I clean a closet or turn on television? Should I make cookies (yeah, right) or talk to the mister? Too many options requiring a decision, and that hurts my pretty little head, so I end up doing nothing. Did I mention I was a Libra and as wishy washy as Charlie Brown, another known Libra?

MaryF said...

Indecision...I understand that completely.

I have moments like that ( a lot actually) when I have no idea, for example, where my story is going and than I lolly-gag. LOL

But as long as you are happy, now that makes it all worth it. :)

Drat, now I must drag myself to work. I'd rather stay and "play" a bit...LOL

CrystalGB said...

Hi Mary. Great post. When I am not reading, I like to garden, cross stitch or do crafts.

Anonymous said...

If I have some down time at work, try to get some reading in and same goes for home.

I come home from work, do what I have to do and then hope to veg out on couch with my book.

Pat L.

Angel said...

Morning, everyone!!! I'm glad to see so many here this morning already. Y'all are doing great keeping me company.

I vascillate between frittering those moments away and using them productively. It depends on how tired I am at the time. :)

One thing I've found that helps is to keep my goal thoroughly in mind. Not the goal of publishing, but something more obtainable. Finishing a particular chapter; getting revisions done; getting a partial ready for submission. With a tangible goal, I'm much better at using those pockets of time and I also don't waste time trying to decide what to work on.


birdzilla said...

Good Morning

Love the clock

Down time is very important. I tend to get a little grouchy and somewhat clausterphobic. My time is generally after the girls go to bed. Animals, gardening, reading...

Hi Angel

Liza said...

Great post Mary. When I get a moment, I tend to read as much as possible.

Sherry W. said...

Hi Mary! Love the post! It was not until I went back to work (on 2nd week) that I realized how much time I had wasted during the 2 months I was off. Duh, I could have half of the book finished by now! But no, I piddled the time away and regret it now. So from now on this wannabe will take your advice and smoke em'!!
Hope you have a good day at work, Mary!

Shari C..I love the thought for the day!! But do you think I could swap the glass of wine for a good ole frosty beer?? Oooh, and maybe some nachos?!

Welcome to My Writer's Attic said...

Since I'm just beginning to really focus on my writing as more than just a hobby I have to admit it's going slowly. I'm doing Morning Pages as I read in The Artist's Way and I write at night since there's nothing I care to watch on TV. And sometimes I'll write between customer's at work. So far so good, but someday I'll have full days to write whenever I want. :-)

Jolie said...

Excellent post, Mary! I'm an aspiring writer too, but I spend far too much time, wasting time. I don't have a lot of it to myself--kids swarm my house about 18 hours a day--and what I do have is usually spent trying to recuperate. I can barely think, let alone be creative. That said, I'm looking for a job that'll get me out of the house and will hopefully allow my better utilize my free time. :) I love your outlook on those stolen moments and can't wait to try it!

Playground Monitor said...

Great post, Mary. I have absolutely no excuse for my productivity level -- or lack thereof. My kids are grown and I don't work outside the home (though I frequently tell the DH that he's a full-time job). I just let other things distract me.

I remember many of those dresses my mother made. And she continued to sew for me even after I was in college, though not nearly as much. I took sewing lessons but never achieved her level of skill.

I'll be shutting down the computer here in a few and packing it away. I'm leaving for the airport in about two hours but have to shower, shampoo and blow dry and slap on a bit of mascara and blush so I'll look at least decent.

I won't have computer access in San Francisco, so I won't be able to see the rest of the guest blogs until I get back (though I did read my mom's ahead of time and it's great. Y'all be nice to her or the Playground Monitor will ban you from the big slide and swings *grin* ) And did you notice her very correct use of the semicolon?

I'm sure "smoke 'em if you got 'em" will become a catch phrase around here.

Angel said...

I think Sherry has hit on an important point. I tend to get MORE writing done the busier I am, because I'm aware that I have to fit it in. Whereas this summer, when things haven't been as busy, many hours have slipped by unproductive.

Hmmm... I guess the only way to remedy that is to be aware of it and proactive in doing something about it, before the time slips away and is gone.


catslady said...

As a reader and not a writer, my spare time is either here on the computer reading about books/authors etc. or actually reading.

Marilyn Shoemaker said...

I'm a reader, so as a reader I write reviews for a couple of websites plus my own blog Marilyn's Romance Reviews. It's my way of saying thanks to the author who writes those wonderful stories.

Problem Child in SF:-) said...

I'm guessing the troops are on their way west already, so I'll check in and say hi before the rush of conference starts.

Have a good week, Angel! Y'all take good care of her, ya hear?

Cheri2628 said...

When I get a pocket of time, I like to read. When I read I can forget my daily stresses.

Anonymous said...

Welcome Mary. Do you live here in Alabama? Where about? What kind of job is your other profession? It's great that your husband helps and that gives you pockets of time here & there. I am not a writer but a reader. I love reading. I ususally always have a book with me. Sitting at a traffic light (those that take 2 - 3 minutes), on the interstate sitting still in a traffic jam, standing in line, whereever. And this really doesn't include all the personal stuff. I'm not so impatient then. Books have seen me through a LOT!

Maureen said...

Hi Mary,
There is always so much to do and when I have a little bit of time I read. Good luck with your writing.

Jane said...

Welcome Mary,
I usually try to work it out so that I don't use all my free time running errands, doing laundry or cleaning. I wish I had all the time to read, catch my favorite tv shows and hang out and go shopping.

Cherie J said...

Welcome Mary! I enjoyed your post.

As a reader, who is also a mom of kids aged 5 and 21 months, I don't have a whole lot of free time so when I do get those pockets of free time I read. It is my escape. Two of my favorite genres are fantasy and paranormal and in the pages of the book I am reading I get to escape to other worlds and alternate realities. It is so much fun!

Virginia said...

Hi Mary, great post your life sounds like you are a very busy women. I didn't have time when I was young to do anything, but now that I am older I have the time to quilt and such.

Angel said...

Wow! Thanks everyone for coming by and commenting today. I feel so loved. :)

Mary, thank you for taking the time to blog with us. I know firsthand how busy you are and am a total admirer of all you accomplish. One day, it will all pay off!


MaryF said...

I'm back...! LOL Late but oh well.
Thank you everyone! :) I have finally managed to sneak on in here. Work is done, dinner finished, and the kids are playing. Ooops, that means I should write! LOL

I wish I could answer everyone's comments. But I will say this, I love to read too, its my greatest distraction and cherished pastime.

My work is in research--and that has lots tacked on to that little word. Poor Angel gets to hear me rant way too many times.

And everyone has been so gracious...! :) I will try and lurk more often if I can.

Angel, thanks for letting me have the opportunity to blog!

For all of you in SF--TAKE PICTURES! (please?) :)

Have a wonderful evening, and I hope everyone finds their moments to write, read, quilt, or just hang out. :)

Anonymous said...

I write at any moment I can. I'm also a creative writing major, so instead of taking notes--well that pertain to class anyways--you'll find me either reading a book or doing character sketches in the back of the room.

I get support from my mom, but not my stepdad. Is the support, and non-support worth it? Yes, my stepdad just motives me all the more to keep going and do what I love. So nyahhhh to anyone that says you cant. and to steal a quote from a presidential candidate just remember..yes..we..can!

Michele L. said...

Oh time, well, where does it go too? Hm? For me it seems to slip through my fingers. Before I know it, it is time to go to bed. Each of my days are always productive to say the least but I am always pushing the window on trying to get even more in each day. Like Hercules, trying to move the world in one day! Oh well,...

I do love to write short stories and little ditties. I am a voracious reader! I love to edit too! I always look my husband's typing over before he sends it out.

As for sewing, I was standing at the back of the line when God handed out the sewing talents! In my home ec class in high school I made a dress. It was hideous! My mom was very sympathetic and said I had a terrible teacher. Actually, I think I am just not talented in sewing. God bless you, Mary, for being so talented and making up for all of us people who are all thumbs!

Michele L.

Michele L. said...

Actually I should have said in my e-mail, thank you to all the talented people out there who can sew! Sorry Mary!

Hi there Angel! How has your day been? I hope your week goes by fast! It is the dog days of July here in Indiana. Hot and steamy!

Michele L.

Angel said...

Michelle, that's a wonderful attitude to have towards naysayers! Writing as a profession isn't always well-received by family and friends, so we have to decide whether we'll let it motivate us or drag us down. Good for you!


Anonymous said...

Hi Mary,
What a wonderful and inspiring post today. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I am an art teacher and social studies at a girl's school. During the year I am busy as a bee but having the summer off is wonderful. I garden, travel a bit and just immerse myself within the pages a a great book. I used to sew. but not lately.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary and thanks for this lovely post. Your life is definitely full and interesting.
I read and workout but mainly read since it transports me to other realms which are infinitely exciting and gratifying to learn about.