Depending on your source, it can take anywhere between 21 and 28 days to form a habit. I have good habits. I hit my writing “habit” marker and added some…I posted here a bunch of nonsense and first drafts and slop and a few good things thrown in that gave me hope that I could get my writing back to where it was when I could devote 4 and 5 hours a day to it. The trade off would be that my 4 and 5 hours would come over the span of 4 or 5 or 8 or 10 days.
And, as is the trend for my life for the last 5 years, the things I need to do get in the way of things I need to do. All the volunteer work apparently needs to be done by February 3, and then some more will be added. The kids are sick. Not in tandem. Consecutively. Family pulls. Parent has a small car accident, niece has a hospital visit, in-law has bronchitis, dog has a tumor. The basement floods and now my entire office needs to be packed up for the third time in 5 years and moved, only to be put back together. Friends want me to come to shows. Friends want me to come over to help them work through Life. Groceries need to get gotten, meals need to be prepared, Backpacks need to be supervised while emptied and filled, at least 20 minutes of reading per kid per night needs cuddle time. Playdates, work requirements, the mess in the house spreads like Hawaiian lava, slowly and steadily and in a fascinating manner.
And I’m left with that heavy-chest, the pressure, the physical pressure I can feel pushing down on me…that whenever I get things to a place where I get a rhythm, momentum, life gets in the way, and there seem to be too few places where I can say no during this cycle. I feel selfish for wanting to write and edit. The brainstorming and doodling is the first thing crossed off the want-to-accomplish list when a child throws up.
And I feel resentment and I feel left behind and I feel embarrassed that I’m back to this shitty first-draft-only-but-for-God’s-sake-I-have-to-get-5-minutes-in writing. I look back at what I’ve done when I’ve had the luxury of momentum and time. My writing was good. Clear. Fun. Legato, thoughtful, occasionally insightful. My similes were strong.
Smart. It was smart.
I made the choice to be a parent (although with the twins it was a surprise for sure) with the full knowledge that it stops being about me, at least short term. My headspace is theirs, mostly. Their voices ring out over any creative moodling. But it’s the marathon aspect of that, the never-ending lack of time, often brought on by my choices to be involved in their schools, to help causes I believe in, that are rib-crushing. It is the complete lack of silence. It is the hoping for three minutes. Three minutes.
It is the guilt for sounding whiny, for sounding self-absorbed, for sounding like I’m making excuses. It sounds like fear. It’s not.
I was described as a child as a wild pony. That is how I picture my creative energy. And it feels that life is too often trying to break my spirit.
And perhaps it is fear. The fear that if I don’t write NOW, if I don’t do this NOW, I will be left with nothing to say and no one to listen. That I am no longer legato. That I am no longer smart. That I am screaming into a wind tunnel.
Was this screed the best choice for the 12 minutes I’ve had to write it? That’s the question now. Should I have started something Great?
I continue to search for legato during cold and flu season. I continue to try to set the Wild Pony free in a messy house, making sure it does not trample the family, nor run away completely to a place I cannot go.