I am frequently asked how I find time to write.
The truth is that I really don't know. Somehow, usually late at night, I am able to gather my thoughts and record them. But it's not an easy feat.
In the morning, I sit down to the computer, intent upon writing a complete column. Before I am two sentences in, the youngest child is awake and requesting breakfast. The following hour passes in a frenzy of breakfast making, coffee drinking, dish washing, spilled milk cleaning, library book finding, hair combing, teeth brushing, catching the bus chaos. With the older kids out the door, it’s time to prepare the little ones for the day and do the morning chores.
On the way back from the barn, I am mentally planning the day’s menus. After the calf bottles are washed and the little ones are settled with their toys for a few seconds, I remember that a bill needs paid before the mail goes out today, so I write a check and make a quick trip up to the mailbox.
Home again, I check the grain markets momentarily before I sit down to tackle the unfinished (and now overdue) column. By this time, the little ones need a story or two before they transition to their next activity of the day. I bundle them up and shoo them outside with warnings of staying out the mud puddles, and I again sneak off to the computer to work on the task at hand.
Two paragraphs in, the back door slams and my husband, having completed the morning feeding, requests the number of the calf we doctored two days ago. Retrieving that information for him, I return to the computer. A few more sentences are gained before the phone rings. The John Deere sales representative would like to speak to my husband, which arouses my suspicion.
After a phone call from the vet and an additional call from the Case IH sales rep, I am not only suspicious, but also off track. By the time I regain my train of thought, my husband is at the door again requesting a weather update and the checkbook.
The kids arrive at the door on his heels with an announcement. “Sorry, Mom. We forgot to stay out of the mud.”
Once I clean up the muddy tracks in the kitchen, I give up on the column writing and prepare lunch. Lunch and dishes conquered, I make a few quick phone calls for church activities and return to the task of writing. I have now forgotten the column idea altogether.
My husband engages me in a conversation about loan balances. Clearly under the influence of tractor sales reps, he attempts to convince me about the merits of leasing, which evolves into a conversation about our long term goals and the future of agriculture.
Now thoroughly distracted, I do some early supper preparations and then go to the end of the driveway to retrieve the older kids from the school bus. The after school chaos of hugs, snacks, chores, and homework ensues. I make a partial grocery list while finishing supper preparations and coaching the sentence diagramming that is taking place at my kitchen table.
On a good day, I am able to find a 30 minute window of time after the kids are in bed during which I have no interruptions and can complete the column.
On a bad day, I am called upon to help “for a minute” and find myself sorting pairs in the sleet, splinting a calf’s broken leg, and wondering why I didn’t find a nice accountant to marry.
I seldom become terribly frustrated during the writing process, though. I realize that all of those interruptions throughout my day are the real topics of my writing. Without all those experiences, I really wouldn’t have anything to share with my faithful readers. And I suspect that being able to relate to those daily experiences is the real reason that people read my writing to begin with.
The truth of the matter is that as soon as I find that I have plenty of time to write, I will also find that I don’t have anything to write about. Interruptions, it would seem, are truly the story of my life.