Tomorrow is D's last day at school. Grade 1 will come to an end and summer holidays will begin.
This is a bitter-sweet transition for me.
I welcome the summer break — those delicious long days of basking in the sunshine, of not having to rush anywhere as there are no appointments clogging up the calendar, and of taking it slowly and savouring what each day brings.
But I've also been worried about having to sacrifice writing time now that D will be at home, barring the handful of weeks he's signed up to attend summer camps.
In the past, I've fought with KrA over how much more time he gets to spend working than I do when D's at home. Obviously, those arguments have led nowhere.
Moreover, now I'm able to see that I got into many of those arguments as a distraction; it was a time when I was prone to picking a fight with KrA than face the creative anxiety of sitting down and writing.
This tendency still crops up in me from time to time. But that's not the issue. The point is that I can choose how to respond.
Knowing that my time during the day will be limited in the summer, I've been mulling over two choices: getting up early in the morning to get an hour of writing in before the day begins, or get to the writing desk at the end of the day after D has gone to bed or even a little earlier as KrA can handle bedtime.
The end of the day is not always the best time for me to write. In fact, right now I just want to get into bed and close my eyes and fall asleep. It has been quite a busy morning and afternoon.
That leaves early morning. D is an early riser too – waking up at around 6 or 7 a.m., depending on when he goes to bed. Can I squeeze in an hour before that?
I am usually the first one to wake up in the mornings. Instead of lying in bed and dreading the day, can I get up and make some progress on my story?
What keeps me from doing that?
I know the answer. In order to wake up early in the morning after a good night's sleep, I need to go to bed earlier and resist the temptation to watch Netflix.
This is my sole vice.
I'd also need to resist giving into the temptation of having an afternoon nap, because that causes me to sleep later at night, which in turn prevents me from having a good night's sleep, and so on, and so on.
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that the best bet for me is to wake up early in the mornings and get at least 500 words done. Once I get started, evening if I'm not able to write all 500 words in the morning, the early start will give me enough momentum to make it a point to come back later in the day, in the evening even, to meet that daily target.
Starting to write for the day only in the evening is too daunting. I'd easily tell myself that I'm tired and that I need to rest, and give in to the temptation of Netflix and sleep.
I've done that so many times over the past several summers, I'd be a fool to attempt that again this time.
So this is the plan for summer. Wake up earlier, get started on my 500 words of fiction for the day, have an absolutely awesome day with D, meet my word count target (if I haven't already) before bedtime, then wake up to another awesome day.
Childhood summers are far too few, and even though the days can feel long, the season is often a short one. And every summer, D grows one year older. I don't wish to miss any moment of this child's beautiful presence in my life. Nor do I wish to give up writing.
With a little amount of planning, preparation, and willingness to put in the effort to encounter this essential pain (as Becca Syme puts it), I know I can definitely do both.