A week ago, I wrote about all the time I’ve spent not writing. Today I want to talk about another limited resource: the mental space in which my stories dwell, quietly gestating, until they’re ready to be written. I call this (quite cleverly) headspace.
All my stories need simmering, but there are only so many mental burners available. All too often, bossy overbearing thoughts shove the stories out of the way. If I’m lucky, the stories end up in the deep freezer, lying dormant next to structures of organic molecules, second order differential equations, the names of my elementary school teachers and mystery meat. Perhaps I’ll find those stories again some day. If I’m unlucky, the stories fall to the floor and fly apart in gushes of half-done soup and pot fragments, never to be reclaimed.
Sometimes, I wish my stories would shove back (and some do). Most, however, are quite shy and passive. The bullying thoughts are many, and come in many shapes and sizes, but fit in one of three not-story categories.
Category one is the minutiae of daily life. Planning meals. Making shopping lists. Juggling schedules. Returning calls. Writing emails. Checking Google Reader. All of these take up valuable headspace. Take planning meals, for example. It’s not enough for me to declare, “Tonight we are having pizza with scallions and peanut butter sauce.” Nope. I have to go through a list of questions, such as: Do we have scallions and peanut butter in the house? Do we have room in the budget to buy scallions? Will D. be able to find scallions at the grocery store? What the heck are scallions, anyhow? Can I find a picture online of scallions to show D.? And, will my family stage a revolt if I served them pizza with scallions and peanut butter sauce?
Yep, that one meal snitched about half the headspace required by the sequel to Out of Shape.
Category two: worries, concerns, anxiety. These range from the small (“If I let my kids out of the house in their current choice of clothing, will I be arrested by the fashion police?”) to the large (“Oh my. Our IRAs took quite a hit last year. Shall I sell an ovary now, or take a job as a Wal-Mart greeter when our youngest starts college?”).
There goes the second half.
Category three: My other interests. Theology. Homeschooling. Blogging. Giant squids. The endless quest for the perfect chocolate dessert. These can be the hardest to curtail because they too are worth pursuing. It’s just that my headspace, like my time, is a finite resource. Here is where I need to make hard choices.
I will probably never learn to knit. My crocheting will continue to be… interesting (as D. says, “Handmade is supposed to look handmade”). Riding horses may just happen in my imagination. And the writing will be slow during the years I’ll be teaching the kids at home.
This I know. But I am content.
Now. If I schedule chicken nuggets and fries for dinner every night of the week, do you think I can reclaim headspace for that sequel to Out of Shape??