What’s the point?

I’m not a nice person when I’m writing.

Or really, when there’s this one scene I’ve re-written ten times because it’s from a man’s POV and worse than that, an almost fatally embarrassed man—and while embarrassment and I are very close friends, I’m a cis-gendered female and when filtered through my brain, this guy keeps oversharing.*

And I’d meant to go to bed an hour earlier Saturday to prepare for the time change—this was going to be the year!—but ended up chasing this thing around the mulberry bush until midnight before giving up and going to bed and waking up five hours later.

I hit the laptop to see if I could make that $#!% weasel pop before the family woke up.

But half an hour later, in bounced these two kids who would not leave me alone because they inexplicably wanted to spend time with me—and are also mentally and physically incapable of moving away from a lit television set and needed me to fetch and carry for them, because heaven forbid they miss three minutes of this particular My Little Pony episode that even I’ve seen more than twice.

At which point, I should have saved the scene, shut off the computer and the TV and made everyone have a nice breakfast together.

But I’m not a nice person when I write.  And I was going to get this thing nailed down and I was going to do it before noon, because that was when I had to leave for work.

So I tossed fruit at my children and shooed them away when they spoke to me—always, always when I’d just managed to get back in the flow.

At which point, I should have told myself to step back for a couple of hours and let the scene work itself out in my mind—to enjoy an afternoon of inner writing while I outwardly worked the reference desk on what would probably be a lazy afternoon at the library .  The scene wasn’t going anywhere, I wasn’t on a deadline, and both it and I would be better for the time.

But I’m not a nice person when I write.   So I carried on, writing, erasing, writing, cursing.

And then my husband came home from his class and started quizzing me about lunch and the TV went off and the kids redoubled their efforts to drive me insane by doing a conga line thing, with drum and recorder accompaniment, through the room and fighting loudly in their room over everything and coming in to tattle or scream.  Or both.

Honestly, where was their mother—oh.  Right.

At which point . . . yeah.

And I’m really not.

So my husband and kids had lunch in the kitchen, while I scarfed a quesadilla in front of the laptop and wrestled words to a standstill.

I did finish that $#!%  scene before I left for work.

But by the time I arrived—head aching, stomach upset, guilt-ridden, lonely—I couldn’t remember why it had been so important.

Broken Pencil

___________________

*Another, you should pardon the expression, bosom buddy.

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15 thoughts on “What’s the point?

  1. So, here’s the thing. Your kids are about the same age as my kids. And we craft with them and we play balloon volleyball, and dance party and board games and watch cartoons that make us want to pull a King Lear.
    And they are old enough that it does them good to see that we have something, even if it’s something that they don’t understand, but something that we care passionately about. It does them good to be forced to entertain themselves and find a way to be creative without Julie the Cruise Director orchestrating every event.
    This is what I tell myself when the guilt gets too much.
    When they were babies, we got up every few hours, we fed them, we burped them, we changed their diapers, we cried when we left them and held them all the time. Let’s not even travel down the colic road. We have been at every event and signed them up for things that are good for them and their growing personhood.
    If we can’t take time now, then why on earth would they ever look at us and want to be a grown-up? You are giving them the clue that your life isn’t just what they see of you. There is more and you are more.
    And that’s part of your job as a mom, too.
    xoxo.

    • Thanks, Lyra.

      I think most of the guilt is that they don’t see me very much in the first place . . . But I guess we could compromise.

      Last night, Sunny wanted me to sleep with her for a little while, and I told her to wait until after I finished one chapter. Every five minutes, she asked if I was done—until I moved to the couch with the laptop, invited her under the afghan, and thirty seconds later, she fell asleep leaning against me.

      I got a lot done. . .

  2. Oh, I hear you. But I am WAY more selfish than any person I know, and I will shut myself in a locked bathroom before anyone gets more attention than my characters.

    You’re a nice person. Unless what you mean by “I tossed some fruit at them” is “I fired apples at their heads like Nolan Ryan until they went down in a heap—silence at last!” in which case I’m calling the authorities.

  3. Nice writers finish last.

    Or, rather, nice writers never get their damn manuscripts finished.

    Writing is perhaps the only profession where you absolutely need to be selfish with your time. Otherwise, you’d get nothing done.

    So be strong, un-nice writer. You’re doing the right thing. 🙂

    • I’m too stubborn for anyone’s good, Dee, and too used to the sound of that laugh to pay much attention.

      And waaay dramatic, apparently. 😉

  4. I don’t think you’re mean when you’re writing, which is to say that you’re not -not- nice when you’re writing. Just focused. Or distracted. Both at the same time. And you’re not any less awesome because of it. You’re human. And a totally good mom. At least, I think so if it mattered enough to blog about it. 😀

  5. Kids learn as much from a mother’s passion and tenacity as they do from her catering to their momentary wants and needs. I’m sure you give them ample love and attention. Carry on, my friend.

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