A while ago (I’m sorry I am too lazy to find the link) I posted an article about “How to write with a small child” and it was all about using slings and locking the door and hoping like hell that your rare bursts of creative genius sync with your child’s nap schedule. At the time I read it, and nodded and laughed. But now I realize that this is not what writing with a child looks like for me.
Today, writing with a baby looks like this: My deadline looms ever closer and I am feeling that familiar pit of anxiety in my gut. I now have fewer words ahead of me than I do behind me, which is promising, but the amount I have left to do is still daunting. I have confided to Adam, in that dim space between waking and sleeping, how nervous I am. How big this seems, and how insurmountable.
Today he takes Olive out of the house for a few hours so I can write. But I do not write. Instead I read Facebook. I look for Easter dresses for her. I pay our phone bills. I get up and sit down a million times. I wander and pace. I make myself a snack of cheese and crackers. I open my word document a dozen times, pecking out of a few sentences before stopping. Standing. Sitting.
I know that it needs to get done. I know that neither my deadline nor my final word count will change, and that since it will get done eventually I might as well do it now, while I have time, rather than leaving it to a panicked marathon effort in the final weeks. I know this. But I still sit here, staring at this screen and trying to breathe through this anxiety.
I tend to get mired in the details. Head down, I can’t see the forest for the trees, the book for the words. And I am conscious of this and so I try and remind myself daily how cool this is. How lucky I am to be here, with a deadline, with someone who believed in my writing enough to pay me for it, and to publish it. I try and remind myself that this is just a first draft and there will be room for editing and polishing and changing things around. I remind myself of all the times people have told me that I am a good writer, and I take those compliments and dredge them up and hoard them close to my chest to stop the panic.
And then I stand again, make myself a cup of tea. I eat cookies. I pace. I sit down and write this blog post. And just as I finish, Adam and Olive come through the door and their cheeks are red from the cold and she is smiling and he is too and he asks, “How did your writing go?”
I smile too. ”Good”, I lie.