Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mothering and Writing

As most experiments, the first day results always seems to out do expectations then the remaining days never live up to the first.  On the days both girls napped I did better in terms of sitting down to write with the right attitude.  It would be the middle of the day, I would be slightly tired, but I'd rally and do the work.  On days only one of the girls napped it was much harder to make time during the day for writing.  For example, one day I decided instead of posting to my blog in the morning, I would try and get a paragraph or so in while they ate breakfast.  This didn't work very well because the older one took advantage of it by eating very slowly, playing with her food, and trying to hide the fruit her mother instructed she eat.  The younger one wanted attention and I was instructed to feed her her yogurt if I didn't want to clean it out of her hair and off the floor when breakfast was done.  I managed a few sentences that morning, but nothing worth bragging about.

The most valuable lesson I took away from watching the little ones is to try and do the writing before the kids go down for bed.  The day I tried writing after everyone was done for the day, I realized I was done for the day too.  I had no juice left in me to strung the chords of creativity in my brain.  Thus, that day no writing got done.  Well maybe part of a sentence, that counts right?  This helped reinforce my getting up early to write ambitions.  The pro writers, if that's what you'd call them, have the right idea.  Do your work first thing before the day gets tainted or bogged down with the happenings of life.  I've been home a few days now and haven't kept to my writing schedule because I'm being selfish and giving myself some days off.  But come tomorrow, I'll get back on that horse.

In other related news, I think I am going to get rid of my desk.  I love my desk because its old and has character, and a LARGE top surface for clutter to mingle on 24/7.  The problem is I rarely sit and write at my desk.  For example, I am writing on my laptop now at my high top table, looking at my desk.    It fits well in my apartment, but it would also clear up more space to walk around in the apartment if it wasn't here.  The functionality of the desk is low, based on my not using it, and I always want more space in my apartment.  So, is getting rid of it the right thing or should I hold on to it for ... for what purpose?   A writer needs a desk, right?   A space they can mark as their place of creation?  Maybe, maybe not.  I'm going to think it over some more, but I did just clean it out today.  I don't want to put it in the back alley it does deserve better than that.  Maybe I'll try and sell it or give it to one of my friends.  I'll keep you all posted.

Monday, July 11, 2011


The first day was good for me, the babies, and the writing.  We attended a baby date with one of my best friends from high school and my nieces were having so much fun they played right through nap time.  We got back home right about when they would have been getting up from nap time.  So I switched up the schedule a little on them and let them sleep for like an hour and half.  I don't know too many things about kids, but I know not to let them nap too long at the later end of the day or you'll be up all night.  I took that time to have my third cup of coffee and sit down with my writing.  It was very tempting to lay down with the ladies, but I wanted to make an honest attempt at fitting in my writing while "mothering."  My word count was better than my early morning sessions, 384.  I probably could have written for a bit longer than I did, but this is where the balancing act comes in.  If I wrote longer and I'd pay for it by being up all night.  So instead I chose to be satisfied with the timeI had to write and kept the babies close to their usual schedule.  I don't think I have to remind you all of my feelings about sleep, being up all night with energized babies might break me at this point in my life.  So I chose to keep a good balance of my competing priorities.

It all turned out in my favor.  I got as much sleep as I could hope for and my nieces aren't cranky or whiny.  I'm finding time to blog in the am with plans to work on my novel in the late afternoon.  Let's hope I keep it up today.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Blast into the Future

So, because I'm the "coolest mimi (aunt) ever,"as my niece told me yesterday, I'm babysitting her and her sister for four days.  My sister and her husband are going on a long over due vacation together and I get to be "mom" to their one and three-year-old.  I've done this in the past but not with both of them or for as long.  I told her "no worries, I just wing it."  Just in case though she wrote me out several pages of detailed instructions that I am hanging on the refrigerator for quick reference.

Me and the girls get along pretty well and I think things will go more smoothly than anybody may originally think.  Of course I'll let you know how I really feel in four days.  But during this time I would like to "play the role of mom" as I might really play it with my own children.  Amid all the nap times, play times, and eating times, my sister didn't schedule in my writing time.  Being single without kids I already find it hard most the time to fit in my writing.  Add two kids and it might feel like I should just give up, right?  I  admit in the past when I have watched my nieces and tried writing a paper or just reading a book it didn't go so well.  When I finally got the free time I often used it to nap.  But I like to think I have matured since then.  So how do you write when you also have two kids to chase around?  I don't know, but my guess is to always have your laptop out and bang away at it every chance you get.  This will take some training to being able to insert myself back into my characters and story at a rapid speed.  If I can accomplish that I might have an all-star quality on my side as a writer.  However, if I cant...well that is what editing if for.

Ironically, I was reading a story in Alice Munro's Selected Stories on the flight here that commented on mothers.  The story was "Miles City, Montana" and the main character is going on a road trip with her two kids and husband.  She is reflecting on herself as a mother and the type of mother she is and wants to be.  She says,

"I had dread of turning into a certain kind of mother - the kind whose body sagged, who moved in a  woolly-smelling, milky-smelling fog, solemn with trivial burdens.  I believed that all the attention these mothers paid, their need to be burdened, was the cause of colic, bed-wetting, asthma.  I favored another approach - the mock desperation, the inflated irony of the professional mothers who wrote for magazines.  In those magazine pieces, the children were splendidly self-willed, hard-edged, perverse, indomitable.  So were the mothers, through their wit, indomitable" (p380).

My sister is a great mother.  She takes the time to develop her children's interest and teach them things before they may even need to know them.  Mainly, she devotes, a lot, of her time to her kids.  I see many great mothers do this and in my single, selfish state of mind I think - I don't want to watch cartoons all day or repeat the same trick 100 times in twenty minutes.  And because I think this I don't know how I'll be as a mother.  Instead of worrying too much, I think will I worry enough?  Or will I be one of those crazy artsy moms who scream out in desperation - Mommy needs to work now go play somewhere else.  I know I don't want to turn into a mother "whose body sagged, who moved in a woolly-smelling, milky smelling fog." I don't think any woman really wants that to happen.  Watching my nieces is a great trial run and lets me know that not all my worse fears will come true about myself.  Having my own kids is nowhere in the near future, but I want to know that when I do that I will still have time for my writing.  I know most mothers must deal with this in their own ways trying to  stay involved in their own interest as their children require more and more of their time.

So, here I am day one alone with the kids and writing over breakfast and morning cartoons.  We'd be done by now and playing outside but my three-year-old niece is trying to whine her way out of eating her banana.  And although this may be the only time I write today I know at least I took the time to devote some minutes of the day to the process.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hanging In There

It's been a week and I have been lazy about posting.  I think about it, does that count?  I took the holiday to rest despite my big plans to write like mad over it.  I got out of the city which was something I really needed.  I would like a private lake cabin to retreat to every weekend of the summer to replenish my mind.  Retreating to one is also a great way to get some solid reading done.  That is what I did over my holiday weekend instead of writing. 

Small confession,  I mentioned in an earlier post that I discovered I do not write like Alice Munro as much as I previously thought.  This is still true, but also, when I wrote that I had a small feeling that I didn't even like Munro as much as I previously thought.  I don't think I shared that because it felt like slightly admitting a previous teacher of mine had been right about her.  NO WORRIES, as it turns out reading through majority of her Selected Stories I feel like a mind f**k has been done to me.  The stories are arranged in the order that she wrote them and I feel perhaps that why I had those earlier feelings.  As I get further in the stories and toward the end I really find myself twisted into some of the character's lives.  Tricky of you Alice, tricky.  That is not to say I love all the stories only that I developed more of an emotional response to this author than I originally thought I would.

About my EARLY MORNING WRITING, I'm still doing it.  It's not as consistent as I would like but it's getting done.  I've officially vetoed getting up at 6am until I get used to getting up at 6:30.  That little half hour makes a huge mood difference for me.  Best feeling ever though is when I do manage to get up right away and get a solid word count in before work.  I know if I keep with it it will become second nature, but geez this beginning period is rocky.