The frequency of writable moments has gone up and down throughout the years, depending very much on so many other factors in life. When I was single and childless, writing was an almost endless occupation, except when I was required to go to work to make money to pay rent, or attend class on the road to my degree. I could sit in my apartment with the CD player spinning out my favorite New Age or Classical music, or have the TV on with an old sci-fi movie in the background – white noise to block out the street traffic and neighbors. In those days I sat in an orange wing-back chair I rescued from a dumpster and fumigated, or on the pink, striped couch. After cooking up a casserole to last three or four days on a meal budget of $20 a week, I’d kick back with a glass of cheap wine, or a rum-infused mix and revel in imagination.
Then came graduation and job-hunting. For the first year and half, I learned the trade of the real estate title agent, digging into old county records to clear a land title for sale or refinance. I would write blurbs about how an old sale in the early 1900 might go, considering all of the restrictions allowed in those days that are outlawed now. I went from that to receptionist-slash-order clerk at a specialty office furniture store, which lasted a brief six months. I could not handle a building loaded with smarmy salesmen always leading the customer to believe the furniture could be manufactured and delivered at amazing speeds when the reality dictated it would take eight weeks for the twelve-foot, custom marble inlaid table to arrive. That’s a hard way to learn about providing good customer service. During this period, I started dating the man I would marry, and worked on the wedding plans during breaks.
Fleeing that employment disaster, I took up a new position at a trade association fulfilling orders for trade publications in the financial industry. I worked my way up to answering the customer help line and writing member communications, so I actually got paid to write dry marketing articles. On the side, I wrote colorful fiction. Still childless, I could make time to write whenever I was home. All through these days, words poured out. I frequently sent short stories off to competitions, achieving high ranks though not quit winning the top prize. I worked on my first novel as well, writing, rewriting, scrapping failures, and collecting artful phrases. I have dozens of journals and notebooks in the basement now, bursting with ideas, poetry, stories, and fan fiction. On occasion, I read through old pieces, clear out the obvious junk and mark up the good ideas for later.
We bought our first house and a couple of years later decided to have our first child. That’s when I discovered just how much a body is drained by nurturing another human being, even when that being is as small as a seed. I experienced a complete writing crash. Nothing stirred for months. And then the baby was born, bringing with him sleepless nights and constant attention. I love him dearly, and I am so glad he is old enough to entertain himself while I get some writing done. In fact, he contributes to the efforts when he spews out a crazy fantasy about skeleton pirates. I changed jobs, back to real estate title for another three and a half years, then out of work completely for six weeks. I spent a few hours a day searching job sites and sending resumes, and another few hours hunting for magazines and literary agents, neither endeavor fruitful. Within a sluggish economy, finding anyone currently in business proved difficult, especially in the niche of science fiction.
So, why then, did I decide to have another baby?
Our second child, quite unfortunately, left me in a state of depression. Born prematurely with an ultimately fatal birth defect, our daughter compelled us to spend compounded hours at the hospital. I traveled almost 100 miles each day 7 days a week between going to work for a 1/2 day, shuttling our older child to school, picking him up again, and driving to the hospital at least once per day. At the hospital, I spent as much time holding her as I could get. Among so many other things, the writing suffered, but writing was the last thing on my mind at the time. I wrote only to capture certain events in my journal, especially when the doctors shown a ray of hope that they would be able to correct the problem. Plagued with insomnia, anxiety and depression, I simply wanted to curl up in my bed and ignore the world and everyone in it. Screw writing, screw working.
Fortunately, I found a good therapist and decent medication. I started walking everyday along one of the stream-way paths, looking for and listening to birds, spotting deer, snake, and skinks. At least an hour a day, I headed along that path. I shed 15 pounds and felt physically fit. The walks cleared my head and opened my mind again to the possibilities of the written word. Eventually, I quit the meds and used nature as a dual remedy for depression and writer’s block.
Two years later, our second daughter came along, once again consuming time and resources. Now she is two years old and is learning to play alone and with her big brother, so that I can sneak a few minutes here and there to write down as many words as possible. In November, I discovered the NaNoWriMo.org website and set to fulfilling the 50,000 word goal in an amazing 18 days, jump-starting Book Two in what is certain to be a multi-part series of novels. I’ve also discovered the fun in writing articles and this blog, as it pushes me to come up with new ideas every few days to keep my followers interested and find new ways to attract others.
As life around the house returns to “normal,” the frequency of writable moments increases, and as I watch my children explore the world and use their imaginations, the frequency of ideas increases exponentially.