Early in July, I became the owner of a home that will give our family the space we’ve long needed. I also became a de facto general contractor. My fix-it list is rapidly growing; my word count is not. How easily non-writing work can fill the time we set aside precisely for the page — especially when such busyness sometimes gives us more sense of accomplishment on some days than the few paragraphs we may add to a work in progress …
I don’t write at a desk anymore — now on most weekdays, I stand on the staircase behind a baby gate while T., my 2-year-old daughter, listens to her favorite playlist piped from my laptop, which is precariously balanced on a stair post. Today, she’s tearing up the living-room floor to a combination of 1970s disco funk and Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, soon to be followed by the soundtrack to The Sound of Music. Her 5-year-old brother is usually in preschool, but it’s Saturday. As long as O. is also entertained by KC and the Sunshine Band, I have this moment to put thoughts to virtual paper before one of the kids will need food or the bathroom.
The idea of calling writing a practice did not occur to me until long after I had graduated from my MFA program — a year late with a manuscript I wanted to hide in a locked file cabinet, perhaps among the credit card statements old enough to shred.
I had gone after my degree so that I could teach. I had also hoped that doing the work while living with my husband would help me develop a successful writing routine while also learning to balance the rest of life alongside it. Integrating a two-time-zone commute into our year-old marriage could not have been farther from that ideal.