Monday, September 10, 2012

Incremental Progress by Rebecca Tourino

What gets in the way of your writing? Is it a creative block? TV? A day job? A smartphone? On stage, obstacles to progress are what make drama dramatic; at the desk, they’re what make writers curse. There’s always something in the way.

Right now, I've got two somethings – adorable little Somethings, ages 4 and 1.

"Mama, I want you to play with me," says One.

"Cracker!" asks the other.

"Just a moment," I answer, squinting at the computer screen, where one of my characters is wooing the other. "I’ve got a little writing to do."

"Cracker!" repeats Something Two.

Since I’ve become a mother I’ve become adept at doing more than one thing at a time. I can carry on two different conversations at once while cooking dinner and playing unending rounds of tic-tac-toe. Writing a scene while feeding the baby on my lap shouldn’t be too challenging, right? I figure I ought to be able to field questions about robots and amp up my character’s central conflict simultaneously.

Sometimes, I can.

Then someone gets hurt, or someone won’t share; a nose starts bleeding or another needs blowing; a belly empties, a laundry basket fills, and . . . where was I?

Be patient, I self-coach, as my characters threaten to expire from ennui. If I can't write this morning, I'll do it this afternoon. If I can't this afternoon, I'll get to it tonight. Not tonight? Then tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow!

Progress is dizzyingly incremental. It can get discouraging.

"Mama, I want you to play with me."

"Sweetheart, please," I beg. "Please, I just need a few more minutes."

My children are teaching me the meaning of the word perseverance.

"Mama?" asks my eldest.

"I’m going to cry!," I gasp. "I just! Need! One! Minute!"

"Well, if you cry, I’ll give you a kiss!"

Breathe, I remind myself, as my characters seek out illicit substances to dull the pain of my neglect. If I can’t have two hours, I'll use one. If I can't have sixty minutes, I’ll use thirty. Twenty. Eleven. Three.

These days, if I can get one coherent thought from my brain onto my computer, I find myself beaming. Because you know what? It’s a step forward. My writing may feel like it's always in process, but so are my little boys – and so am I. My children will not always be children, but I've been telling stories on paper since I was six. I’ll always be a writer.

And my manuscript will always be right where I left it, waiting for me.

Rebecca will be teaching Playwriting I at Freehold this Fall. More information on our upcoming class with Rebecca Tourino: Playwriting I

1 comment:

  1. Marvelous. I needed to read this tonight as I sit in front of my own manuscript while simultaneously wiping noses, stirring pots and cuddling a fussy baby. I wish I were in Seattle to take Rebecca's class.