Brain Babies: Damn it! I’m Trying to Write!
Let me come right out and say it: I’m married; I have two kids; I work full-time; I own a house, which constantly needs to be cleaned (kids); I try to occasionally see the people I call my friends. When do I have any fucking time to write?
I don’t. I really don’t have any free time. It’s like they say, if you wait until you are ready to have kids, you will never have any. You won’t. Because, you can’t prepare for that. Having kids changes your entire life in ways you couldn’t have possibly foreseen. And it’s great! And it’s also mind-numbingly horrible sometimes.
You want an example? Sure. Both my children, whom I love more than anything in the entire world, Both of Them, have puked on me. The boy has done it twice. They didn’t mean to; they had the flu. It happens. But, still, we’re not talking about baby spit up here. That stuff is actually kind of cute in a mildly icky way. Nope. This is hot liquid vomit. This is splashing off my pajamas onto my bare arms and spilling onto the floor gut-bombs.
So, yeah. Kids are awesome. There is no more rewarding experience than raising a child. And yet, they’re also disgusting, nose-picking, farting, belching, puking, publicly embarrassing little pit fiends.
I digress. See what happens when you get me talking about my kids?
Finding time to write is tough. But, I do it. Or, maybe it would be more accurate to say I make time to do it. Small moments: a break at work; part of my lunch hour; after the kids are asleep ([cough]Bullshit! After the kids are asleep, we watch Torchwood.); sometimes, I even get up early to write. This last usually backfires, as my nine-year-old son seems to sense I am awake and gets up, too. I can’t begrudge him this, as it’s actually really nice just to spend one-on-one time with him. Same goes for the six-year-old daughter. It’s peaceful, relaxing, when it’s just one of them. Not so much when they’re together. There I go. Back to the kids again. I’ll try to stay on topic from here on.
I find (make) time to write because it’s important to me. Because I’m passionate about it. Sounds cliche, I know, but it’s true, too. I’ve always liked making stuff up. I think we all do as kids, and some of us never grow out of it (yay us!). I’ve also always liked people to notice the stuff I made up. It’s why I was an actor for many years. Especially on stage, there’s that instant gratification of making an audience react to something I’m doing. Whether this is a laugh, a gasp, tears or whatever; making someone feel something is a special kind of power. It’s a rush. You can get the same thing writing, though the timing on the reaction is much, much further out. You might have to wait years for the feedback. That’s okay though. It’s still pretty cool when it comes. There is, I think, no greater pleasure as a writer than to have someone seek you out to tell you how much they liked your work. Getting an acceptance is nice; getting paid is wonderful; seeing your work in print is awesome; but, yeah … all of that pales in comparison to making that connection with a reader.
After all, isn’t that why we’re doing this? Isn’t that what compels us to put pen to page over and over, to slog through edits draft after draft? Don’t we shout into the void, hoping for an answer? Hell yes. That’s why I do it.
So, here’s what I suggest: keep a pen and notepad with you, always. When the ideas come (and let’s face it, the ideas are the easy part), write ‘em down. When you get to a computer, or journal, or whatever you write on, expand that idea a little. Incorporate it into the WiP, blow it up into a drabble, knock out a quick flash piece. Who knows? Maybe it’ll spark the outline to a whole new novel. Use your downtime to write. Every spare moment.
But, and this is important, don’t obsess. Don’t forget to live your life. Don’t neglect your family and friends. (In fact, I took the title of this post from something I actually said to my wife once. I do not recommend this.) Don’t not have a social life. I’ll tell you why: first, those things are genuinely pretty wonderful; second, everything you do, see, hear, feel, smell, taste, touch … it’s all grist for the mill, baby. If you’re not living life, what the hell are you going to write about?
Ken MacGregor 2016
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Ken MacGregor writes stuff. Sometimes, he edits stuff too.
He has two story collections: AN ABERRANT MIND, and SEX, GORE & MILLIPEDES, a young adult novella: DEVIL’S BANE (YA winner of the 23rd annual Critters Readers Poll), a co-written (with Kerry Lipp) novel: HEADCASE (available in serialized form), and is a member of the Great Lakes Association of Horror Writers (GLAHW). He is a somewhat regular contributor to HorrorTree with his column Brain Babies. He has also written TV commercials, sketch comedy, a music video, some mediocre poetry, and a zombie movie. Ken is the Managing Editor of Collections and Anthologies for LVP Publications. He’s curated two anthologies: BURNT FUR for Blood Bound Books, and STITCHED LIPS for Dragon Roost Press..
When not writing, Ken drives the bookmobile for his local library. He lives with his kids, two cats, and the ashes of his wife.
Ken can be found at the staggeringly egocentric-named website kenmacgregor.com.