Between the end of May and the start of October, I had the dubious luxury of unemployment - not official unemployment which requires one to be seeking paid work, but the off-the-books kind of unemployment which doesn't show on government statistics and makes no demands apart from economic miserliness. Having spent the past few terms teaching, in one capacity or another, I greeted the summer as an opportunity to concentrate on my novel. Ahead of me stretched three, maybe even four student-less months, during which I could, if I remained focussed, bang out the rest of my first draft in a mere 625 words a day. I had counted them, the words, one by one, then grouped them into doable, bit-sized chunks. I had a plan and it sounded so easy.
The month of August came and went without a sideways glance at my novel. I had a book of short stories to read, and a review deadline to meet. Then it was the short story website at the university, the design and construction of which I had become entangled with, that demanded my attention. Finally, September, and I returned to the keyboard with relief. For three precious weeks, the writing flowed.
And then the telephone rang.
Back to the world of paid employment, now, and my writing routine is in shatters. There is a trade off between time and money, money and time, and no easy reconciliation in sight. Anxiety levels remain high as the first anniversary of my PhD studies comes and goes, and I number the words that are as yet unwritten. I feel them slipping from me, splitting up, dividing, scattered across the hollow prairies of the pages…