In his book, On Writing, Steven King said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” That concept is the foundation of the VCFA MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. In my first semester I will read 50 books, write ten critical papers, and write / revise 200 creative pages. I’m already 2/5 of the way there.
The program requires 25 hours of work per week. Four weeks per packet. Five packets per semester. Four semesters in the program. That’s 2,000 hours. One fifth of the 10,000 hours it takes to become a master at any skill.
My goal: 4 hours per day.
Where does a wife / mother / home owner / structural engineer find four free hours in her busy schedule? That is the dilemma that holds so many writers back. If you only have one hour per day to devote to learning your craft, you can still get to 10,000 hours, but it will take over 25 years.
Writing is important to me. I found my four hours. I’m not a morning person, so there’s no reason to delude myself into thinking I’ll be waking up four hours before my family. If I did, I’d barely be coherent enough to type.
Instead my hours are broken up throughout the dead time during my normal daily schedule: while I watch my daughter wait for the school bus, over my lunch hour, while I wait for my daughter during her extra-curricular activities, and after my daughter does to bed. Before VCFA, that was time for calling, texting, or Facebooking. Now I’m not as in touch with the world, but I’m making my dream happen one hour at a time.
The more interesting thing is where these four hours are happening. In parking lots. At Beef-a-Roo (which somehow always generates creative ideas for reasons I cannot explain). In parent waiting areas. At Starbucks. In the park. At the library. In the Hanson kitchen.
The hardest place for me to work is actually at home. I’ve had to carve out several happy writing places:
Our front bay window overlooking the humming birds is magical (and within view of the school bus stop).
Our three-season porch has a great breeze and the steady hum of vehicles driving by.
Our back patio is finally re-paved and ready to enjoy the cooler fall weather outside.
The newest addition to our household is a writing desk for our treadmill. It seems I am coordinated enough to walk and type at the same time.
This holiday weekend I’ve been enjoying breakfast in bed followed by entire mornings curled up in this creativity cocoon.
The only place I haven’t written in the last two months: my writing desk.