Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Staying Disciplined as a Writer

Until I became a stay-at-home dad, I couldn't write every day. I would continually promise myself that I would write everyday. I promised to wake up early and write before heading off to see my 7th graders. I promised to write every day during the summers. My first year of teaching--a long while ago, in Connecticut--I refused to get a television because I had promised myself that I was going to write every day.

And I didn't.

So it's somewhat of a mystery why now that I am pretty much constantly with my two-year old man, I have been writing more than I ever have before.

Between the diaper-changing, playgroup-attending, voice-over bulldozer/digger/dump truck-creating, there has been time to sit down at my mini-computer (an e-book, they're calling it, or so said the online advertisement at the website where I purchased the thing) and cruise.

Much of what I'm writing probably isn't very good.

It may well be that a lot of what I am writing isn't very good.

But nonetheless, I am writing. During Tyler's naps--after releasing my bladder, which is usually quite full--I pop into our little study which is about the size of a single bed, and I write.

I guess I can attribute the recent chnage to two things:

1) If I don't write, what else is there to do in an empty house while your toddler sleeps besides cleaning?


2) Watching a two-year-old experience life in all its surprises, dissappointments, and joys wakes up something inside me that longs to experience everything anew again: through the characters I create, the worlds I envision, and the way words on the page feel always like new beings that didn't exist before a small breath of hope filled them.

Tyler is probably going to wake up at any moment, and today we'll take the 10-minute walk over to Fulford Library. We'll return a few books, get a few new books, sit for story-time with Andrew, the new librarian there whose zeal for stories and for kids is unsurpassed, and we'll giggle.

Tyler may throw a tantrum or two; he may take a toy or a book that doesn't belong to him; or (worst case scenario), he may have explosive poop and I'll have to do a standing-up-diaper-change in the tiny bathroom there.

But, whether all of these things occur or none of them occur, I know that when life quiets down, and my son falls asleep dreaming of diggers and dumpers, I'll write.

Perhpas staying disciplined as a writer isn't that different from being a stay-at-home-parent. There's no way to wake up and say, "I don't feel like it today."

If there is a dirty diaper, it's got to be changed.

Wakey-Wakey oatmeal must be made.

Juice bottles must be bequeathed.

Noses must be wiped.

Naps must be taken.

Baths must be given.

And, in perhpas too close a manner, as a writer:

Sentences must be crafted.

Words must be cut.

Paragraphs must be grown.

Scenes must be developed.

Ideas must be hatched.

Titles must be given.

Books must be created.

Maybe real freedom isn't in thinking that all of this is ever really a choice; perhaps, instead, real freedom lies in embracing the not-so-glorious steps along the path as a parent or a writer, and watching--one glorious day--what you have helped to grow into a beautiful story, a beautiful life.