Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Writing and New Year Beginnings

I don't know what happens in your part of the world but here, in Australia, January is to be dreaded and feared - it is a time of drought (intellectually and literally) and of waste (creatively and literally). But what brings about this most tragic and frustrating of times?

Gah! The school holidays.

For reasons unclear and lost, society has deemed that children cannot concentrate for long periods. They apparently have difficulty on a day to day basis, consequently their working days must be kept inconveniently short. But this inability to stay focused apparently also dictates that they get 12 to 16 weeks of holidays a year - much to the chagrin the parents that end up having to look after them.

Far be it from me to suggest that this situation is perpetuated and encouraged by teachers - who just coincidentally benefit from these arrangements - when the rest of us are lucky to get a measly two weeks in the sun. I wouldn't be so mean to suggest that teachers as a race would deliberately want to burden parents. No, that would be unkind. Teachers do a very good job - ahem, when they're doing it!

During periods not assigned to school holidays, we have this bizarre situation where working people have to either:

1) leave work early to pick up their kids (thereby losing pay or incurring the boss's wrath on a daily basis) or,

2) put them in after hours care where they invariably sit and watch TV for two hours, waiting for their parents to finish work.

Wouldn't it be better for everyone if the school day was 9 to 5?

I'm sure the requisite amount of 'lack of concentration time' could be built into this system - and make everybody's lives easier.

Teachers, too. who always complain they have extra work to do (welcome to the reality of everyone's modern workday) could perhaps use this extra time during the day to mark that homework and assist with childcare - thereby making everybody happy.

(Just a thought - I'm jesting of course. Teachers really do a very, very good job...)

But I guess all this is academic for Robyn and I, who don't have 9 to 5 jobs.

No, we work from home, which means, you guessed it, when the kids are on holiday, we get precisely nothing done.

The boys, bless them, go back to school eventually and Robyn and I finally get some time to catch up on work that has been on hold for the entire six weeks of the summer vacation (it's summer here over Xmas in Australia remember?)

So we've been making lists of stalled projects, things to do and wish lists - trying desperately to make up for this creative hole in the year.

We're not doing too bad. At least the break gave me time to realize I need to re-prioritize some of my work. That fiction writing and mentoring are probably more important activities than mindless web surfing, for instance.

That, even if one screenplay has been stalled by liars and thieves masquerading as film producers, then that's no reason to stop putting together other film projects (we currently have another five in development between us).

That allocating my time more efficiently is probably the best way for me to catch up on email, writing lessons and creating new courses. Oh, and being far more organized about my Writing Academy newsletters - which always seem to fall behind in the great scheme of things called "My Life and Other Dilemmas".

What about you?

Are you getting to grips with the things you want to do this year?

It's important to stay focused. It's too easy to get caught up in the day to day stuff and forget you have a duty to propel yourself forward - physically and creatively.

If you don't consciously force yourself to plan, make time and work on your goals and dreams, it's effortlessly simple to let them remain dormant and at the end of the decade, wonder where all the time went.

At least there's one good thing about an enforced break (which in reality is what the school holidays become.) When it's over, I find myself raring to get back to my normal life - one where I can take back control of my days and do something worthwhile.

We love them of course but children really are the greatest time wasters, don't you think?

I suppose we did get to go to the beach often, play lots of fun games and catch up on numerous episodes of Ben 10.

But, let's face it, we'd sooner be writing!

Rob Parnell's Writing Academy