The one with the free writing

Sometimes, it’s really hard to sit down and be disciplined, and write what I’m “supposed” to write. It’s easier to do this sort of thing, the little chunks and bubbles of thought that are accessible, and willing to hang around, those are a dime a dozen. All this requires is to be present, have some humor, philosophy, and maybe a little bit of tech know-how.

Getting into the long-term projects is the tough one. Sometimes, I leave my computer hanging for hours, with that little cursor winking at me while I cook, or do anything that might trigger some free thoughts. Some days, it’s like the pair of jeans that are too tight, the really cool ones that I’ve been wanting to wear, but my body will not cooperate, and I fling them at the bed in frustration.

Other times, it’s right there. I can feel it, hanging right off to my side, waiting for me to sit down and think. Those are the days when the pages just come on their own, and my self-imposed quota overflows. It’s that sensation of diving into a lake on a hot day. You want to stay in that state, a suspended moment of rushing through the water, forever. It’s exhilirarting and also a little terrifying, to be honest. As those words tumble out, and sticky points resolve, there is an unacknowledged panic looming in the corner of the room. I don’t want to look at it, to catch its eyes, and have it know….

Like Chandler and Joey with the free porn, I know that if I get up, or that when the bus pulls up to the house, it’s going to end. Don’t change the channel, don’t turn it off! Yep, I’m afraid to stop. It’s easy to get caught up in that, too. The am-I-developing-early-onset-dementia, or that I’m just a hack with a dream, that it’s all a bunch of crap, and I should through the laptop out the window.

And the kids…with the bus…inconveniently arriving back home. They have, at once, the power to allow me to be here at home (presumptively) writing, and the power to interrupt every twenty to forty seconds with arguments, demands, and disasters. I keep going partly to someday arrive at that point where all these words might provide them with something other than a distracted mother – and partly to leave them with evidence that I am something other than just The Provider and Nurturer.

My own mother quit her writing and painting, as have generations of women who got cowed by this myth of Mothers Cannot Have It All. As other moms have pointed out, it doesn’t send the best message to our kids when we immolate our individuality on the altar of motherhood. There’s no self-respect inherent in that act. My kids may not now get why I sit here, tapping away, when they’d rather be jumping on me, and begging an almost-constant stream of sugar out of me (which I contemplate at moments). Someday, I hope they can look back at it, and find out who I am, who I was. My mother replaced her writing with storytelling, which told me plenty about her, but not enough to see that she cared about herself. She’s still a tough sell on putting herself first, ever, if at all. I have to aggressively remember to push her to take it easy, or to stop worrying about things. I don’t want my kids to have to be in that role.

That’s why I push myself to do things that would be easier to let go – the writing included. If it’s worth having, it’s worth fighting for. That’s the little message I used to whisper to myself. I think I need to start doing so again.


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