by Karen Wojcik Berner
I ran out of the house as my timer blared Sencha signaling the beef burgundy in the crock pot was done. Not boeuf bourguignon mind you, just plain, old Americanized beef burgundy over egg noodles. It was Wednesday, after all. I had twenty minutes to pick up my son from football practice and shove some beef burgundy in my mouth before I retraced the same route back to the high school for Open House Night.
My husband drove while I scanned my son’s schedule, noting every other class was on the second floor. I anticipated a night of running from class to class, covering a school large enough for over 3,000 students, when he uttered words guaranteed to strike fear in my writerly heart.
“I need to work from home more.”
I had just started a new freelance assignment the day before. It was going to be perfect. My son would be gone all day at school. My recent college graduate would be working. My husband would be at the office. The house would be mine again. Mine to structure the schedule. Mine to control the noise level, the vibe, the pace.
“The commute is killing me. I can’t afford to lose two hours a day in the car.”
Over the past sixteen years, literally every time I have begun a new project or a new novel, one (or both) of the kids would get sick, my father would call me every day right as I sat down to write, or my husband would start working from home again, which meant conference calls for the entire day, his voice booming throughout the house, and rendering me incapable of a solid thought without IT terminology creeping into my head.
Every. Single. Time.
My stomach sank. As the most flexible and only female of the group, I usually ended up putting their needs first, and my writing would be pushed aside until it swelled up and I exploded.
After Open House, I vowed this would not happen again. My job was every bit as important as theirs. I would fight for my writing space. I’m sure many of you have been in the same situation. But, how do we do this without World War III breaking out at the dinner table?
Our negotiation is a work-in-progress. Most of the time, he takes the upstairs office to contain the conference call volume, while I work at the kitchen or dining room tables. When I have interviews to do, we switch. Other days, he might go to a local coffeehouse for a few hours, like I did when I was writing my first novel, or he works outside when the weather is good.
The key is negotiation. Remember, your writing is important. Period.
What strategies are in place when you and your partner work from home? How do you deal with managing your time to write?
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