Tuesday, April 21, 2009
DAY 9: Writing when Conditions are Less than Perfect
But what if conditions are less than perfect? What if we have a headache or jet lag or a record breaking case of insomnia? What if our writing sanctuary is also the place that our beloveds call home and it's bursting with happy chaos?
Take my house. In fact, take my house at this moment. Downstairs, my wonderful mother (who was forced to move in with us a few days ago) is indulging her penchant for right- wing talk radio at full volume even though she's been a liberal all her life. Any minute, she will call my name, and tell me (again) that she wants to go home, that she isn't the "dependent type;" and I will explain (again) that fortunately or unfortunately we are all the dependent type. That sometimes taking is a grace. And for a while, she will understand.
Meanwhile, in another room, my son is playing the guitar, which he does for several hours a day, and my daughter is listening to Oprah while cooking shrimp scampi and bruschetta for dinner. Marvelous, yes? Absolutely, but I'm currently waging war with three impulses: 1. To scrap the writing for the day, and open a bottle of wine in anticipation of a fine meal and 2) To scrap the writing for the day and listen to my son's new song, and 3) To scrap the writing, flop on the couch and and check out Oprah myself. Even without my intrusive italics, you can see the common theme.
But what I've learned is that if I only write when conditions are optimal, when the house is quiet, and I've had ten hours of sleep, when the radio is off, and various phones with catchy ring tones aren't singing to me, then Nulla dies sine linea becomes impossible.
So today, in addition to our morning hour (or longer) we will deliberately get out our work and write for fifteen minutes (or longer) at a less than optimal time. When I was writing the first draft of my current novel, I usually added an extra daily page through this practice. But more important than adding to the word count is training ourselves to tune out distractions; it's learning to create a writer's sanctuary wherever we go. Even amidst the noise.
Now for that glass of wine.