Monday, March 30, 2009

Slammed, but coming up for air

Been a slammed few weeks and the next few look just as busy. The new creative writing MA I've been helping develop at Edinburgh Napier University went for validation last week and got approved, subject to minor changes. We're already taking applications and the course is getting some national attention [click here and here for examples]. So that's good.

But finding a balance between the course, my part-time job at the university and my writing is proving tricky. Spent much of yesterday marking assessments when I should have been writing. Going to be spending today and tomorrow developing a guest lecture on horror films when I should be doing my own writing. Back to Napier on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday when I'm only meant to be in 2.5 days a week. And so it goes, bleeding outwards.

Even next week when I'm only going in for one day the course will be eating my spare time. I'm heading down to Bradford on Friday to spent the Easter weekend promoting the course at Eastercon LX, the British science fiction convention. I'm doing research for an academic paper to be present in Belgium at the end of May. Throw in tutorials, sitting in on lectures and all the admin - finding that balance is proving harder than I thought.

But you know what? I took the job. I knew there'd be teething troubles, moments when it all threatened to overwhelm what I'm trying to do writing-wise. I've got to be firm about dividing my time from Napier time. More than ever, I have to be disciplined about carving out space for writing - and space for living. I refuse to let my part-time job become an excuse for not pursuing my goals, objective, ambitions or dreams as a writer.

If that means writing from 6.30 every morning for two hours before going to work, so be it. If that means coming home and writing for another three hours in the evening after work, so be it. If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to make sacrifices. Whining about too much work won't get the job done. Nobody owes you a living as a writer, the world isn't holding its breath for your stories. You have to make time.

You have to write with all the heart and talent and craft and brains that you've got. You have to push yourself to do better, challenge yourself to come up with a better line of dialogue, a better scene, a better story. You've got to make things happen, take responsibility for your successes and failures, validate yourself through the work you do. Don't expect competitions or prizes or acclaim to make you a complete person as a writer.

It's all on you just like it's all on me - so make it happen. Onwards!

1 comment:

Linda Gillespie said...

Sympathy my friend. No-body really appreciates the hours that teachers actually have to put in to provide the set hours of teaching they get paid for, until they are in there doing it themselves! Chin up!