Saturday, instead of writing, I enjoyed lunch with Wendy Whittingham, illustrator of Miss Wondergem’s Dreadfully Dreadful Pie by Valerie Sherrard and then together we headed off to Joanne Levy’s launch of Small Medium at Large at Bryan Prince’s Book Store in Hamilton.

Try to spot all the famous writers in this audience. I see Gillian Chan and Patricia Storms. Somewhere else milling about is Jocelyn Shipley and Lynda Simmons.

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Wendy Whittingham’s the one in the white shirt and long brown hair. After the reading she wanted to ask Joanne some questions. One of the most interesting was “When do you find time to write?”

Now the answer should be easy. If you’re a full time writer, no outside job to take you away, you just get up and write all day.

But the real truth is the person who stays at home inherits most of the household tasks, waiting for the repairman who doesn’t show when he/she’s supposed to and interrupts every two minutes when he/she does. Looking after the sick child or spouse or parent. Feeding the family. Cleaning up after the feed. Walking the dog. Putting the laundry away. Keeping the house in order. Getting the car serviced.

Add to that your own personal maintenance program: exercise, hygiene, doctor and dentist appointments.

But let’s face it, most people even if they don’t write or work from home have to find away to do all this too. So writers claim to struggle with all these time demands when they’re off galavanting to their friends’ book launches.

What writers really need to do if to find a solitude in which to write. If you need total quiet, then you need to pack yourself off to the library where there’s usually even free wireless. If you need white noise, a hubbub that doesn’t involve you, you can go to the coffee shop. A friend of mine likes to hide herself at her cottage for a few weeks to work full throttle near about the middle of a project.

My secret is that I’m an opportunist. (Oh yeah and I can ignore any of the afore mentioned time suckers,
house cleaning especially.) I have the good fortune and focus to be able to write on planes, in cars and in short snatches of time, for example while waiting for supper to go up in flames.

So my advice to Wendy and all creators: steal the time. Make a list of all the things you have to do and pick out which ones you will ignore until you have a couple of hours to write. Switch this list around a bit so that if Monday you ignore your spouse, Tuesday you should ignore your kids or your mother, Wednesday you should forget about showering, dressing and your trip to the gym. Thursday don’t clean the kitchen or make your bed (easily an hour there), Friday don’t cook, that can be your diet day since you neglected exercise on Wednesday. Saturday head for your friend’s book launch. Sunday–that’s your day of rest–you can fulfill all the other demands of your life and forget writing.

Good luck.

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