As I write this, it’s 9:21 in the morning. I woke at 7:30 am, and all morning I’ve been thinking, Maybe I could write …
I always hear about parent writers/ authors who “wrote the book in the morning, while everyone was sleeping,” or “wrote at night, while everyone slept.”
It must be nice to have a household with such reliable sleep schedules. I’ve never been a morning person, but it’s a trait I might cultivate if there was any guaruntee of sunrise privacy … alas, there is not. I am by nature a night owl, who’s given in wholesale to the wide-eyed exhausting temptations of nightlong creative binges — but I am no longer the only night owl in the house, and insomnia fueled nights no longer have the upside of hushed shadows cultivating creativity.
I wonder if those writers had an office, or like a sort of private room the rest of the family didn’t really intrude into even if they did wake?
I’m not writing because my son has been awake since 7:45, and every 15- 20 minutes pops out of his room to rifle noisily through the kitchen pantry before checking in on me with another joke or quip. I think the timing might have something to do with matches in his computer game? Also, any minute now my husband will wake up and come out to turn on the tv.
Just now, as I was thinking, its been two hours … husband isn’t coming out anytime soon to turn on the tv … and then Son swanned out of his room with a shit-eating grin, blasting the Jurassic Park theme from his phone in triumphant accompaniment, and declared, “I’m alive!”
Obvious statement made, he and his musical accompaniment returned to his room.
It is precisely these kinds of unpredictable interruptions that make writing around family so difficult, and why if they’re home — even asleep, even in another room — I find myself too tense, too on guard, too suspicious of interruption.
The worst/ best part is if I do cave, and I do write, once I sink into it, I’m lost. The words, the concentration of it, the beauty and rythym of language — I lose track of time, of other people, of everything. So in the past, my husband has come seeking me, or son come swanning in with a joke, and beckoned, I swim up through the gauzy layers of another world to focus my irritated gaze on them and snap, “What?”
Of course I see the hurt, the rejection that causes. So it’s easier just to … not. To wait until no one’s home, so no one can interrupt, and no one can feel rejected because they interrupted.
I meant to write about ECCC. It was fun. Son and I enjoyed slightly different things, but I think we both had a good time. It ended up being a long, exhausting day, and if we go again next year I plan on bringing my husband and possibly getting tickets for two days so we can spread our activities out. I was really happy about meeting Kristen Britain, who I got a picture with and who answered some of my questions about her books. She also autographed my Nook cover and a copy of my SIL’s book. I wanted to buy a copy of her new release for her to autograph, but they were sold out.
I had an epiphany on the way home, spurred in part by a sense of intense maternal guilt about my desire to attend the writers panels and author signing with Kristen Britain, which conflicted with my son’s desire to not listen to people talk about books.
I realized I don’t really get to talk about books/ writing/ publishing much in my everyday life, and certainly not in my preferred way — dissecting plotting pace, foreshadowing, characterization choices, character arcs, effectiveness of set and setting, language/ description/ wordplay choices, and so on. I don’t get to talk about writing struggles very often with people who relate–drafts and edits and trying to craft a sentence just so, and trying to find critics who give better critique than, “It’s good, I like it,” or copyedit (which is useful and all, but not exactly helpful for pacing/ characterization), and don’t fall into the type of in depth critiques which are basically recommending changes to make the writing more like theirs, eg, “Add more romance,” from a romance writer, or, “Take out the sci-fi, make it magic,” from a fantasy writer, or, “I don’t understand why she’s a girl? Soldiers are usually boys, so it would make more sense if she’s a boy. Add more action language and gunfights. Less tech,” from another sci fi writer.
So I realized the reason I love these sorts of oppurtunities to listen to author panels and talk to writers and published authors afterward is because it’s so nice to talk to people who speak my language. Who care about the things I care about. Who have more to say about a book than, “It was nice. I liked it.”
It feeds something deep in my soul, like rain in a desert, and it felt a little selfish to go to the author panel when my son wasn’t interested … but it was also irresistible when I won’t have this opportunity again until October, and that’s no guarantee.