The boys are napping in front of me. Well, Baby A is trying to nap and it’s not working. Let me go help him out.
*goes and helps him out
Okay. Let’s try this again.
Baby B’s now sitting in my lap. I’m doing what I can to try and get some creative work out. Unfortunately, nothing is happening. Instead I change over to a different tab on social media because, in my head, that feels a lot easier. This is not the first time this has happened, I think.
I limit my creative output to when I’m alone. No babies. No distractions. Just me, a desk, and a mug of something hot.
Why do I think I can only do speculative writing when alone? Drafting, plotting, making up worlds, etc. I put major restrictions on myself, and not just in writing. A lot of the time I’m more than happy with these borders, like only eating tamales after Thanksgiving up until Christmas or buying a new toy/figure/statue every year for my birthday. There’s a great collector’s marketplace here in Phoenix and every year (since moving to Phoenix) I go and get something cool I don’t necessarily need, but want.
So, why can’t I write when I have the boys?
Why can’t I set up a Field Notes on a clipboard in the morning, carry my NaNoWriMo binder around with me, along with my Bullet Journal, as well as a few writing utensils, and just do what I do?
What? Am I afraid that the stuff I write while holding a baby won’t be as good as the stuff I don’t ever write? At least that’s something! Something for me to ponder, to look back on and go, “Huh? That’s not half bad,” or, “You know, there’s something there,” or, “Wow. That was clearly a 3am feeding thought. Ignore that and burn it entirely in a beautiful blaze.”
So, what now?
Set up the tools for your own success. Leave enough around the house. Be okay with bad writing. Same as always.
Warren Ellis said, in his most recent newsletter:
The trick is never to let yourself believe it is pouring fully formed from your fingers into a submittable file. It’s all roughs. It’s layering. It’s starting with the six lines you had, that you foolishly believe constitute “an idea,” and editing them and adding to them and sculpting them and building on them and then realising it’s shit and saving that version, renaming the file and starting again, going back to where you went wrong and rewriting, until you feel like you have the shape of something that might actually be useful.
On my way to bed Friday night, I stopped and scribbled six words in a notebook. I typed them into a Word file around 11am Saturday morning. It is, as I write this bit, 10.30pm Saturday night. I’ve got around a thousand words, including the precis of the story and the end of the story and six markers staking out everything in the story that happens before the end…
…It’s all layers. Always rewriting over and through previous sentences and words. Just building it up, coat by coat, until it holds some weight.
You have permission to be complete shit in all but the last layer, and you get to decide which layer is the last.
I’m giving myself permission.
You know, with the idea of leaving writing tools all over the house, I immediately thought of that scene from the 2004 Punisher movie where Tom Jane hits the kitchen sink and a gun pops out. How much do you think it would cost to do that with a pen and notebook?
Thanks for reading,