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