In Which I Procrastinate Writing by Writing About Writing

Writing has become something I just do now. I mean, writing has always been something I’ve just done, but attempting to write a novel is something I just do now. I get the kids to school, go to the gym, say, “Ugh, I could be going on a long walk or reading in bed or browsing Target today but instead I’m making myself write. Ugh!” Then I set a timer for one hour and tell myself that when it bings I can go on a long walk or read in bed or browse Target. When it goes off, I’m irritated because I can’t stop typing now…things are just getting good! Or thing are going horribly, but maybe I can write my way out of it so I’m not in a bad mood when everyone comes home.

Lately, I’m having more good days than bad. It helps that my critique group has swooned over chapters that felt like battlegrounds and which seems like a kindergartener’s attempt at a self-portrait. I’ve learned that my writing will rarely be good enough for myself but that other people think it’s pretty neat. And every once in a while I write a line that is so lovely I can’t sleep. Like, “The tea kettle whistled shyly, then let out a reckless yell.” Or, “The brochure felt slick and shiny, like hope.”  Then I feel like I’m probably meant to do this.

The novel still feels like a gigantic mess and I wonder daily if I’m cut out for this, if I’ll be able to finish the novel, if I do happen to finish it, will I be able to do it again, how long this is going to take, how much money it’s going to cost, whether people will like it, what the critics will say if it gets published, how I’m going to weave so many things into it, how I’m going to find time to do the other things I want to do, like substitute teaching and relearning Spanish and meeting Kevin for lunch, what the next chapter will be, if I’m insulting or offending anyone, why I chose such a difficult topic for my first novel, etc. etc. etc.

I didn’t realize how much time writing would take up. I’m  SAHM. I’ve been wanting to go to Target for six months to get mirrors for the boys’ rooms so they don’t go to school looking like clowns, and I haven’t found the time. This is super tough for someone who lives and dies by to-do lists. It’s not natural for me to let errands go un-run. I am trying to understand that writing is a choice and that even though it means many of my dreams are on hold, writing has been a dream of mine since before all the others, and now is its time.

I do miss the days when I had babies at home. I never had to get my babies critiqued or worry that I was the only one who would ever love them, the way I have to do with my writing. I miss the days when I didn’t expect any more out of myself than what the day had to offer. As demanding as three boys can be, it’s nothing to what I demand from myself.

But even if I stopped writing, I wouldn’t get that golden time of life back. And writing, as far as I know, is the next best way to lead with my heart. To take all the pieces of life I’ve squirreled away, add a heavy dose of imagination, a passable amount of plot, a few too many commas, and watch them grow and change and become their own thing. Just like children.

Sometimes writing feels like it takes a lot out of me. Sometimes it feels like it fills me up. But Kevin says no more babies, so what’s a girl gonna do?

She gonna open her computer and push and push until all those words out come out. Then finally, hopefully, she gonna let those words walk out into the big, scary world. Just like she did with her babies.

That is my hope.

That is my slick and shiny hope.

Gnocchi with browned butter sauce
Turkey kielbasa
Garlicky green beans
Buttermilk chocolate cake

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