The executive summary of this post’s first draft: whine whine whine. My day didn’t go as planned and I didn’t dive deeply into my creative work.
Parenting duties (sick kid, orthodonture appointment for healthy kid) tsunami-ed my time and left me too tired to don the metaphorical wet suit (aka more than thirty uninterrupted minutes) I need for said creative work. Instead, I drafted a post. Which isn’t to say these posts are unedited blurts! But writing and editing them is qualitatively different than “creative” writing. These are a walk on the beach watching shy crabs skuttle to their homes rather than a deep sea dive.
But even the thirty minutes spent on that whiny draft was enough. Because in those thirty minutes of writing practice, I added a disclaimer of “I realize this is privileged but … “ approximately a million times.
Engineer Hubby points out that the privileges we enjoy because of our income pale beside the income-based privileges of the super rich. I note that compared to 95% of the world’s population, we are living at the absolute peak of human experience and existence. It’s not really an argument, per se. We’re both right.
So why was I complaining about no writing time? I found myself bored by this so-called problem, a first world problem of the first degree.
I don’t mean its impact isn’t real. I am frustrated by the events that stymie my planned writing time. Those extended, regular hours are the only way, in my experience, to get something DONE – but looking at the world around me, I think, meh. My troubles are nothing.
Yet I use those troubles to excuse my lack of self-discipline vis-à-vis my writing even as Engineer Hubby and I wrestle with how to raise children with the self-discipline to manifest their own aspirations. Beyond making Minecraft videos.
H’mm. To what end this busy-ness that washes away my self-discipline and often my parenting energy? To what purpose? Better grades so my kids gain entrance to a more prestigious college and continue to live a top-of-the-heap existence? I don’t really believe our heap-top existence is sustainable.
Besides, even on the top of the heap we struggle with issues of basic respect: I feel compelled to challenge my kids regularly on their middle-school prejudice regarding the “rednecks” and the “popular kids.” When I am tightly wound on the topic I mutter in a righteous tone about how, should The End Times arrive, the “rednecks” are gonna catch, skin and cook real rabbits for a real meal, while my kids will starve. They won’t be able to distract themselves from their hunger pangs with an online game where they … kill a cyber cow with a mouse click.
Part of my aspiration is being able to talk to anyone, so-called rednecks included which, as my marvelous Humanities professor Barb Caruso noted, is a hallmark of sufficient education. We all bleed red when we’re cut, and until we know that in our bones, and then, IMO, work on behalf of our shared humanity in whatever way we can (from poetry to physics to just sittin’ with someone who needs the company), we’re not trying hard enough. We’re not aspiring.
And it does not escape me, as I mutter righteously and drive my kids hither and yon to various good-for-them-activities, that I am not living out my own aspirations. I am, uncomfortably, a hypocrite.
Other parts of what I aspire to some might label a hippie commune. A world with affordable basic health care, everyone gets enough to eat, public education is darned good, writers write, and physicists wrangle with subatomic particles. Etcetera. But between the solitude necessary for my writing and nagging about cellosoccerdramalessonsdoyourhomeworksoyourgradesaregood I’ve not been doing a piddly diddly bit for the Greater Good I want.
My writing practice (the Baggett & Asher & Bode website has this succinct post re: writing daily) has landed me a bountiful net. Looking at those flopping, shimmering fish of possible stories while also noticing their oil-slicked gills has forced my self-examination. One, I need to write and writing requires solitude, a fairly big chunk of it … and two, what I want and need to do when I’m not-solituding is parent and participate in social action. Is it possible to decrease the number of hours I spend ferrying my kids and nagging them about practicehomeworkyaddayaddayadda so I can engage in some social action, be it ever so modest? The low-level of panic I feel when contemplating this tells me that yes, I have evolved into one of those over-involved, hovering parents who has ceded her Self to her offspring in an unhelpful, unsustainable manner. Squirm.
For years, I’ve thought it doesn’t matter what I do, anyway, not in the Big Picture. Well. Call it the mid-life mortality blues, or Occupy Wall Street, or the Arab Spring, but I’m ‘bout ready to be done with “it doesn’t really matter anyway.”
I’m not sure what form that will take. I love making up stories; they may never be published but creating them brings me great peace. Without inner peace I’m pretty sure I won’t be useful in my non-solitude activities … but I am feeling, increasingly, that these are desperate times, and story writing alone is no longer sufficient to serve what I believe to be our higher selves, selves that are accessible only when we engage with each other.
I’ve been swept in and out to sea on the constant, sometimes-battering waves of motherhood for almost fifteen years, but now I’m floating. It is, truly a first world problem, this “how will I manifest my aspirations while not utterly abandoning the parenting ship?” dilemma, and I am grateful for it.
My story pages about this privileged dilemma are blank. I’m not sure whether to write in pencil or ink … or just take notes for a while … or doodle … but the changing shoreline is visible from the corner of my eye and soon I’ll turn to swim.
I know it can be hard to find time to write. I think what we have to do as serious writers is MAKE time. Everyone is busy. Everyone is parenting/working/exercising/cooking for their family/ taking care of business and bills. If we want to write, then we need to WRITE, whether it means getting up before our kids, or staying up after they go to bed, or not watching TV, or writing for the thirty minutes we wait for the doctor. That said, some days we are too tired. If you don’t take periodic breaks to rest and relax, you’ll burn out.