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Time To Introduce Myself

February 16, 2011

I am an invisible man. I am a sick man…I am a spiteful man. Call me Ishmael. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. * 

Those are some great opening lines aren’t they? It’s hard to come up with a good opening line when you are trying to introduce yourself. Usually when I introduce myself I feel like I’m part of a 12-step program.

“My name is Christopher Chartrand and I’m a writer.”

See what I mean?  Not my best opening line. It flies in the face of all writing advice. There’s no hook, no pizazz. Nothing to draw you in and make you want to know more. That’s too bad because I’m going to tell you anyway.

I’m not a full-time writer even though my day job requires lots of writing. I work for a non-profit agency that assists adults and children with various handicaps.  My job is to write personalized plans for each of our clients.  Each plan has to include the exact same information but no two plans can be exactly the same.  It’s certainly a challenge. I’m good at my job; I even like doing it and if I had a choice I’d quit tomorrow.  Why? Because that isn’t the kind of writing I want to do. Working all day takes creative energy away from the kind of writing I want to be doing.  In other words, if all my client’s personal plans were required to have horses, vampires, magic and guns, then I’d be pretty happy with my job.  But since the world isn’t perfect and my kids have to eat, I’m forced to write my fiction whenever I can make the time.

Finding time and energy to write after work isn’t easy. I have a wife, three daughters, and we are in the process of buying an old house. Needless to say I don’t have an abundance of time to spare. Where in a day of work, after-school activities, dinner, homework, and bedtime stories does one find the time to sit alone in front of a computer and draft the next great novel or even the next great short story?

I’d have given up by now if I didn’t really want to become a successful writer. I know I started this journey a little late and I’m willing to pay my dues but gee-whiz, I can’t pay them if I don’t have time to write.

I know I’m not the only one out there with this conundrum.  What’s needed is a good dose of motivation and creative ways to whittle out some time for writing. That’s what I hope to accomplish here.

I look forward to beginning this process of manufacturing time with you. Leave a comment below and let me know what sort of things get in the way of your writing. Let’s see if together we can shift our time in ways that allow us all to write what we want. The time to write a great western, horror, comedy or drama. The time to craft the perfect opening line. The time to just write anything.

* Our cast in order of appearance: Invisible Man-Ralph Ellison, 1952; Notes From Underground-Fydor Dostoyevsky, 1864; Moby Dick-Hermon Melville, 1851; The End Of The Road-John Barth, 1958; I capture The Castle-Dodie Smith, 1948.
8 Comments
  1. February 16, 2011 3:18 am

    We’re both pretty similar Chris. I’m constantly bemoaning work taking away my time to write, but I can find a little time to write at work, though it’s harder to write fiction or poetry at work but easier to write articles and blog posts.

    One other thing that gets in the way is political activism. I’m always at protests or meetings and it often takes up most nights. I wouldn’t give it up though, not only because it provides good fodder for stories.

  2. February 16, 2011 4:16 am

    The need to sleep takes me away from writing. I am working on a balance of 4 – 5 hours. Like you Chris, its a juggling act. Full time job, kids – who have very full lives of out side activities and interests, and just general ‘life’ – gives a perfect excuse to just NOT write…. somehow I am unfulfilled if I don’t.. so I am forced to – drawn to.. I must.

    There is plenty of time to sleep when one is dead…..I’ll let you know how I go on that one..

  3. February 16, 2011 5:00 am

    For me it’s the day to day grind sapping my creativity… and motivation!

  4. February 16, 2011 5:53 am

    I’m right there with you on all of this! Day job, family commitments, need to get at least *some* sleep… all of it makes it hard for me to find time to write. This is likely why I wrote virtually nothing at all last year (and so far this year). But I’m hoping to fix that, with help from others around here! I’m sad, but in a way relieved, to see it’s not just me.

  5. February 16, 2011 9:03 am

    My opinion, you’re doing well, Chris. Good intro. Good plot (seeking time to write). Good call to action. I’m looking forward to your next submittal.

    OK–here’s my take on writing time. It’s like waiting for Godot. Enough time will never arrive, but we writers are ever hopeful it will.

  6. Wendy permalink
    February 16, 2011 9:24 pm

    It seems like life always has a way to interfere with the writing process. Often between work with freelance writing for me has picked up in editing others works. By the end of the day I don’t want to edit anymore which hampers my writing. I can write but the editing I need to focus on is sapped away in other places. So I completely feel with you.

  7. February 17, 2011 4:54 am

    Strangely enough, it’s when I have the most time that I find it hardest to motivate myself. I guess you could say, I’m sometimes the biggest obstacle.

  8. February 17, 2011 1:27 pm

    Hey guys, thanks for all the great comments. I had planned to respond to each one individually, but was too busy buying that house I mentioned. I ran out of time to talk to all of you. If you knew me you’d understand there is no irony to that chain of events, it’s just par for the course of my life.

    I don’t want to give too much away, but Paul has hit on the topic for my first few articles. I look forward to getting to know all of you better.

    Also, Jacqui, I specifically tried to keep Samuel Beckett out of this but I’m thrilled someone made that connection. Kudos for the reference.🙂

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