Tuesday, April 24, 2007


When is the write time?

For me, it's early in the morning, before work. But that may change soon – I'm on the layoff list at work (along with over 1,000 other people.) Yep, they're closing this Boeing location and as I am a Boeing sub-contractor my contract will end and that will be that. We're looking at sometime between July and September for unemployment.

Okay, for everyone else, that's pretty scary. For me, it's a relief.

I *thought* I was retired last year, but I got this great job offer I couldn't refuse. It was a little out of my line (senior security engineer) but was very good money and I have been diligently saving half and using the other half to improve our house and pay off bills. I knew it wouldn't last forever. In fact, I thought it would end this time next year. But if it ends now, well, I'll be okay with that. I can't collect my Army pension for another couple of years, but that's okay.

I sincerely hope all the other folks affected by the relocation and layoffs will find the jobs they want and need.

As for me, I will be able to write as much as I want.

Now, that's both delicious and scary. Delicious, because isn't it every writer's dream to have the time and means to write? Isn't it what you want? Isn't it what I have wanted all these work-weary years? Scary, because now I really will have to do this. I will have to structure my time, set a schedule, actually get some writing done. Hmmmm. Is that what I wanted? No excuses?

Well, yes and no. I like writing in the little time-box I have always found for myself – an hour in the morning, a few minutes here and there. I am used to it. I'm not used to a blank screen and a whole day stretching out before me. I have tried it twice before: once in 1998 I was laid off from my aerospace job (I was at Northrop Grumman then) and for six months I wrote. I got a lot done before I ran out of money and had to go back to work!

Then in 2005, I once again was among the ranks of the unemployed for 6 months. But I got little writing done as I was busy moving into the new house and overseeing structural repair work and trying desperately to get another job. Just when it looked like that wasn't going to happen, I got this great job.

So now it's going to happen. I won't have to go back to work again (the chances of getting hired at my age and with one-half of my body not working due to a stroke a few years ago are pretty slim) so I will have all the time and opportunity to write. But is that what will happen? Don't I need some discipline? I've worked my whole adult life. It's a habit I'm gonna miss.

What's gonna make me get up every morning? What's gonna make me write?

I have cable TV, for crying out loud! What's gonna keep me off the tube?

Well, I guess when it happens, I'll let you know. Maybe I'll come back to this post and laugh about it, as I slog through the re-writes on an as yet undreamed-of novel. Maybe I won't have time, as I pound out essays for NPR, flash stories for Flashshot and another brilliant whodunit for Ellery Queen.

So tell me – if you had all the time to write, would you? Or would you miss the structure of a job?

How do you do it? Let me know. I gotta make some plans.


The new spa is finished and we tried it out last night. Wonderful! I slept better than in recent memory.

I made a cake in the shape of our front yard for Earth Day – I used crushed graham crackers for the decomposed granite. Very artful, but a little dry.

My friend Joan brought me a bouquet of sweet peas – they smell so good!


bunnygirl said...

Have you considered volunteering somewhere? If getting out and about isn't your cup of tea, you could help with Project Gutenberg or make cozies for the critters in the local animal shelters.

Are there any classes you'd like to take? A lot of colleges offer classes online and by DVD now, and since you're retired, the pressure is off as far as grades are concerned and you can learn just for fun.

Speaking only for myself, I absolutely have to have some sort of structure to my day or things get very ugly, very fast. Besides, creativity is my escape. If I have nothing to escape from, I lose my creative spark fast.

Good luck, no matter what you decide to do!

Bernita said...

I have time - but there are always fluid obligations, gardens, house work, meals, repairs, pets, etc.
They serve in some ways as "breathers."
One has to consider writing as "the job."

Kate Thornton said...

Bunnygirl - thank you for the advice! Yes, I do volunteer work now for Project Sister and for the VA.

Bernita - you're right - the writing *is* the job!


Paprikapink said...

Congratulations on the lay-off! It'd almost be worth it to have another real job just for the thrill of being laid off again. Not having to spend your new free time looking for your next job does help a lot.

Kate Thornton said...

Paprikapink, it's so true! I have worked for more than 40 years. I guess I'm tired, but I want to do so much more than my job allows.

So many times, shocking news turns out to be a good thing.

Sonnjea B said...

I'm sorry you didn't get the extra year there you were hoping for, but as you said, shocking news often turns out for the best.

I'm guessing, with your military background, if anyone has the discipline to view writing as the job and actually *do* it, it's you!

I'd say "good luck" but I have a feeling you don't need it! So instead I'll say, go for it!

Bobbi C. said...

sorry about the layoffs, but maybe you can use it to really do what you want. I haven't worked for anybody else in a long while except for very short periods of time, but I still have problems with motivation. sometimes having too much time isn't a good thing, either!

bobbi c.

writtenwyrdd said...

I can't write full time until I retire from my government job. That's 13 years away. But that's my plan, to write full time, given the opportunity.