Be Mused : Five Steps to Unsmothered
Five Steps to Unsmothered
I'm self-employed and work out of my home. I've been dating a great girl for well over a year now, and I enjoy the time we spend together, but lately she's been hanging around my house all the time. I've wanted to write a mystery novel and work on my art more, but I can't seem to get anything done when my girlfriend's there. It's really starting to be a problem. What can I do? Smothered
An old flame of mine, upon hearing that I wanted to spend more time alone to work on my art, dramatically stripped off his flannel shirt and chucked it out into the snow, exclaiming, "That's it? You're just going to throw it all away like this shirt?!" Well, that really was never my intention, but it seems to be the way things ultimately worked out. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Art is a jealous mistress," and, given the choice between my creative projects and a guy with no shirt, it's no contest.
Still, if you try some of the following steps, you should be able to juggle your mate and your muse.
Have "the Talk"
I assume that by now that you and your lady friend have had "the talk." In other words, I hope that fairly early on you explained that she is really important to you and that your writing and your art are too. As a result, she'll have to be willing to share you a bit with that jealous mistress of yours. You did have the talk, didn't you? If you didn't, this is your first line of defense.
Place Blame Squarely Where It Belongs: On You
It's funny the things that stick with us. One of my high school social studies teachers hung a sign above her classroom door that read, "We are responsible for ourselves and our choices." That sign's for you, my friend. Be grateful that your sweetie wants to be around you so much and don't you dare use her devotion as an excuse for your own lack of activity.
Keep a Regular Schedule
If you worked at a regular day job, your girlfriend wouldn't drive with you to work and camp out in your cubicle, would she? Working from home as a self-employed artist should be no different. She is much more likely to give you space to complete your projects if she knows you are serious about doing the work. Demonstrate your self-discipline and dedication by setting and keeping a regular schedule.
Aside from your girlfriend hanging around, working from home has its special challenges. It can be hard to resist flipping on the TV or baking lasagna when you really should be working. If you can afford to, try renting a small office or studio space and don't tell a soul where it is.
Make Time for Love
Adjusting to a new routine will take some time for you and your girlfriend. Be patient and be careful not to overcompensate for your recent lack of activity by shutting her out completely. Make sure you set aside time every week or even every day if you like just for her. Once you're able to feel better about the direction of your own life and creative work, the time you do spend together will be much improved. •
© 2001 Susan M. Brackney. All rights reserved.
Need a little help finding your way on the road less traveled? Susan M. Brackney, author of The Lost Soul Companion will try to solve your creative quandaries. More »