Employee of the month

If I didn’t have a system for organizing our family events and obligations, I would be lost. The kids would never get to school, we could forget about any extra-curriculars or social activities, and more than likely I would miss a birthday or two. (Although my husband should feel free to forget my birthday—if we don’t acknowledge it, do we really age?)

I have a pretty simple system, which involves a large calendar, a lot of ink and highlighter, and an ongoing group text of wise Kindergarten moms who act as my back up. (Is tomorrow library?? What do they need for Spirit days? Help plz!!)

I haven’t been fired (so far). My kids have never been left behind from a school trip and we’ve only been late with library books once. Ok, twice. Also we missed one school trip.

I’m starting to realize, though, that I need an organization system for my writing. I’m pretty proud of my desktop folders, which all start with the letter B: Budgets, Books, Blog… Not because it’s a useful system, but because I have an affection for alliteration. But now, folders are starting to expand beyond their orderly B titles, documents are opened and abandoned for dead, and I’m stuck playing save or trash with Documents 15 through 37. I’m wading through fiction ideas, poetry drafts and random lists of outdoor chores that should really get done (dated Spring 2014).

I think this graveyard of files is a direct reflection of my professional life. Almost all of my cognitive energy is directed towards family-related tasks, which I suppose makes sense since I’m the primary caregiver to three kids under six. I chose not to go back to work so I could take this time to manage our household. (Also, the cost of childcare for three young kids in Calgary completely negated my university staff salary.)

But if I want to take this leap into writing seriously, I need to develop a serious schedule. If I want to consider this as my career, I should probably approach it like a business, with deadlines, stakeholders, growth projections and business-y things. (Don’t businesses also have profits? I dunno. I have two arts degrees. I’m not familiar with the term.)

It would be great to have a block of time each day when I could punch the clock and be alone with my ideas and my keyboard. (And no Netflix access, so I can’t be tempted to decompress with red wine and a Veronica Mars marathon, which is what I want to do with my minutes alone.)

Realistically, it’s a good day if I punch a few keys in between breakfast and preschool drop-off when I’m lucky enough to have an inspired thought. Most of the time my ideas are stuck in concept-form, floating around in my brain alongside directions to the new piano lesson location and the shoe size of each of my girls. Sometimes I’m able to pluck a memory out of the pool, sometimes I have to use GPS. Sometimes I lose that story idea or rhyming sequence for good.

I guess I need to approach this writing life like I have a job to do. (Which would be a huge departure from my mommy vacation, since parenting hasn’t been any work…) The good news is I would be my own boss (coffee breaks for everyone!), the bad news is my boss doesn’t know how to delegate and she hogs all the coffee. But at the very least, this new perspective could give me some much-needed accountability.

On that note, please consider this my vacation request for the months of July and August. And December. And Fridays. Thanks in advance!

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