Now that the construction on our building has ended, other than eventual painting and other finishing touches, and my sanity, such as it is, has returned, I’ve been trying to think of a way to fit everything that’s important to me to be doing into my life. Work and babysitting the dogs takes up most of each day, and I have the kind of job where it’s important for me to be productive for all of those 8 hours. After work, because it requires intense concentration, I need some downtime. Then there’s dinner, taking a walk or other exercise. Some evenings I fit in grocery shopping and my ukulele group. Then I make some time for the people I care about. Then it’s time for bed.
There are 5 specific regular activities I am pursuing and want to continue to pursue: learning to speak Japanese well, becoming ever more proficient at playing the ukulele, becoming a “master knitter” (which I hope will help me launch a new part-time career after I retire from my regular job), writing and reading. What I usually end up doing is pursuing one or even two of them for awhile, to the neglect of the others. So I constantly feel I’m taking two steps forward and one step, sometimes even two or three steps, back.
Where this was really keeping me from making headway was with speaking Japanese, so recently I decided I would spend 15 minutes every morning, while sipping on my morning juice, working on my Japanese (Nihongo o sukoshi hanashimasu — “I speak a little Japanese”). I admit 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but it’s the regularity of it that counts, and I seem to be making better progress.
The other day I added in making sure I did at least 15 minutes of ukulele practice as well. That’s nowhere near enough time for me to gain the skills I’m after, but it’s regular practice, and does usually turn into more than that each day, particularly on my days off. I knit during work breaks at times. I read when I get into bed, at least for as long as I can stay awake. Writing is the activity that suffers most, and shouldn’t. If I’m calling myself a writer, writing should be the activity that takes the most precedence. To be considered a “serious” writer, I should be writing to the exclusion of other activities, but I’m just not wired that way, to have laser-beam focus on one endeavor only.
I realized long ago that I’m never likely to write the next great American novel, or a nonfiction book that’s likely to set the world on fire. I have two books that are half finished, and another from a few years back that’s three chapters from being completed. It’s difficult for me to sustain the interest and inspiration to write an entire book, which is why short stories and articles have always been my strong points. I let stories swirl around in my head for days, sometimes weeks, and then I can usually turn them out quickly, at least as a first draft. So I guess 15 minutes of writing a day would not necessarily be a bad thing, in my case. Wow, that really sounds lame, though…
I seem to be just thinking things over in this blog entry today. For at least 15 minutes, anyway.