It’s been five days now, so I dare to speak the name of a new routine, hoping I won’t frighten it off with the sound of its name.
I’m starting to live like a writer.
I’ve read and studied and rolled my eyes at the aphorisms about writing for a long, long time now. I know that a little good writing comes out of lots and lots of bad writing. I know that excellence in any field usually follows at least 10,000 hours of practice. I know that the truly excellent stuff comes at the cost of the stuff you sweated blood over, but just couldn’t save. I know that most (as in almost all) of the new manuscripts written every year are not published. I know that publishing cannot be the end goal if one wishes to write with joy and freedom.
Still. I’ve been writing terrible little stories since I was a terribly little girl and I have always hoped that – if afforded the opportunity – I would live off the proceeds of my words someday. As I grew older and more cynical (or wise, whatever), I at least hoped that if I didn’t earn money by writing, I would, in fact, be writing.
9 months after Boy Wonder’s birth, I am just now hitting the mythological time everyone implied would immediately follow his birth: Only now is that boy beginning to nap with any kind of regularity. Only now am I sleeping through the night and waking at an hour that doesn’t make me weep with frustration. I’m not complaining, mind you. Truly. My kid is the best human born all last year (maybe in the whole decade). He’s gorgeous and smiles pretty much every waking moment and is already an undeniable genius. I have laughed more in the last months than I have in many years put together. So I really am not complaining. I’m just saying that no one told you that labor would actually extend about a year out past the delivery of these beloved parasites known as babies.
I should have realized, once in that fray, that the writer’s life I had always imagined would mesh so well with “homemaking” was, in fact, going to require an extraordinary amount of commitment. I knew my mother worked hard in the home when I was growing up. I mean, she had four kids. I have precious few memories of her being seated, much less throw her feet up or pursuing a hobby. Yet, somehow, she earned her bachelors and masters degrees and worked outside the home many of the years that she had four babies at home. I just assumed that all mommies were imbued with the powers of the Little Engine That Could.
Well, this little engine couldn’t find the time or hutzpah to sit down and type out two words strung together for the first 9 months of Boy Wonder’s life. The first two days of this week, it took staying up till midnight to reach the daily writing goals I had set for myself before turning in. As the week progressed, though, I started to notice the myriad little time-eaters I was gorging myself on during those precious daytime hours and my longing for nighttime sleep was all the motivation I needed to trim that fat.
850 words a day added to my novel, a blog entry a day on the subject of finding ways to have fun with my baby boy, and a weekly assignment, six days out of every week, in poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction (I never could pick a genre, so I decided to stop trying to limit myself).
I realize that there are writers out there who are doing a lot more than this every day, but it’s more than I’ve ever done with any kind of consistency. Perhaps when Boy Wonder starts his studies in a few years, that 850 word count will grow to 5,000. Or perhaps I’ll have six more babies and this short season of writing is the last I’ll know for thirty years. Either way, I am reveling in the productivity one enjoys when one simply sits down, every single day, and writes.