10 Minutes


Tonight I am at the monthly meeting for Willamette Writers. My duties as co-chair as done for now, and I am listening to Eric Olsen talk about his creative process and that of other writers he’s known, all with varying degrees of success.

He just hit upon an example that hit me hard. He read an author’s account of how she would get her work done, all the more challenging while also raising a daughter. As someone who both works and provides a lot of child care for a wee lad, this resonates.

I would write from 11:15 till 1 in the morning, she said (more or less). Sometimes I would spend 10 minutes on my manuscript, but even those few minutes kept my book in my mind during the day.

And that’s what I work toward, always. I work on my fiction usually first thing in the morning, but when raising a child that doesn’t always work out the way I would prefer.

It’s those 10 minutes that stick with me. That’s where I can improve. It’s not easy. I have to immerse myself into a made-up place, where I also have to think not as myself but as multiple other people.

Tough schnackies. That’s the job. That’s my job. And like fatherhood, I have to figure out what works best with what I’ve got at the time.

So that’s where I am working. How can I better poise myself to take 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there, and work on the novel, or a short story, or a novella? What can I do, at any time, that keeps my wee travel fiction projects moving forward?

10 minutes. Maybe it’s all I get. But time is a gift. I don’t always get to use time the way I want. But how I use it, how I choose to perceive the value of what bits of time I get, well, that’s all up to me.

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