Dear Hubby and I were no spring chickens when we married. We believed ourselves savvy about the ways of the world and well-equipped for parenthood. Such foolhardy hubris. We had no idea. Nobody really ever does. Among other things, one must forsake sleep for years on end and welcome every germ known to man into one’s home. Bear has finally made the transition to comfortably sleeping in his own bed for the entirety of the night. Not so true for Goose. It’s fairly common to wake at 3:00 a.m. with one of Goose’s elbows in my ear and one of her knees in my ribcage as she climbs into our bed. A half hour battle to claim prime sleeping territory ensues. Make no mistake – Goose will win. Invariably, I pass the remainder of the night clinging to the edge of the bed while she breathes directly into my nostrils. This morning, I woke to a painful sinus infection and chest congestion. Blech.
Who has time for this sort of thing? I have breakfast dishes to clean, laundry to fold, job applications to complete and 50,000 words to write in 30 days. That last bit is my big old Nanowrimo dream. For those who are not familiar with Nanowrimo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. Once one register’s at the Nanowrimo site, one’s goal is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Thousands and thousands of writers attempt it. This is the first year I’ve registered. And I can do it. The trouble is that I say things like, “The trouble is…” Everyone experiences obstacles and I’m sure my obstacles are no different than any other writer’s.
Most days I try to steal ten minutes here and twenty minutes there for writing. Yesterday I tried to write at the kitchen counter while Goose was occupied with play dough. She had a mass of multi-colored spaghetti piled in front of her and sweetly offered me a plate to try. I gave her a distracted, “Mmm, yummy.” This was followed by play dough cake with sprinkles and a constant stream of jibber jabber. My wise little Goose has picked up on the insincerity of my intermittent “Oh my” and “Really?” She requires a fuller engagement, including a detailed account of what it is I loved most about the flavor and presentation of the sprinkle cake. Lest I participate less than enthusiastically, Goose will launch into a stream of consciousness story that is seemingly unending. Her ninja friends arrived to bake cookies with her and did I want to meet them and did I know they must find that monster who stole the magic cookie recipe and they would have to look for clues like play dough footprints mashed into the living room carpet and she would need the bright orange post-it notes and the red ink pen to make notes of her discoveries and Tada the ninjas and Goose saved the day but she and the ninjas needed some chocolate milk in the white bunny cup with the red cover filled to the top and she needed to stir in the chocolate and did I know the ninjas’ mommies didn’t let them trick or treat but that was okay because Goose would share her bucket of candy with them if I would get it down from the top of the refrigerator please. You get the gist.
Today I had hoped to get more done. Bear gets on the bus at about 8:30 each morning and I drop Goose at preschool by 9:00 two days a week. That leaves me approximately three hours of uninterrupted writing time twice a week…theoretically. I’m also meant to use that time to complete my continuing education hours to renew my teaching license and return to full-time work outside of the home (both exciting and terrifying after six years). But I woke up with this painful mucal invasion and an aching body and the only thing I wanted to do was sleep while I had the opportunity. And I did, right after I voted. By the time I picked up Goose at school she was coughing and sneezing too. “Mommy, I got the achoos too.” So here we sit on the couch under a pile of blankets, at least until Bear gets off the bus. I’ll do the breakfast dishes later. Ann Tyler covers this topic honestly and eloquently in her essay Still Just Writing. She also admits, with real generosity and grace, that being a woman/mother/writer is filled with obstacles, but no more so than anyone who chooses a writing life. The key seems to be finding a way to put up the necessary “partitions,” as she calls them, between my writing life and the rest of my life. I’m working on it.
One of the more literal partitions I’d like is silence and a tiny backyard retreat (I love this one I found at the tiny house blog – isn’t it the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?). Michael Pollan built one of these for himself and then wrote a book about building it. If I had one of these, I tell myself, I could whip out five hundred thousand words in thirty days. Provided I were left alone in silence. It’s unlikely that Dear Hubby would look kindly on me decamping for the 24 days left in Nanowrimo. I don’t have a tiny retreat anyway. It’s easy to feel sorry for one self when one is sick. Poor me. I feel like a pile of sheep dung. But the reality is that I have a roof over my head, a fine family, and the right to vote for the president of my nation. That’s pretty good stuff. If I really want to write – and I tell myself I really really want to write – I’ll write. I really will. I might not make the 50,000 words in 30 days mark, but I’ll plug away at it, because the thing is I need to write. Wish me luck.