I try to tell myself that I don’t have time for writer’s block — if what I want to say isn’t going to manifest itself on the page in the time I have, then it can just wait until I have a free and clear minute some other time.
Currently I have two half-written musings langushing in my wordpress account: one, a listless attempt to be profound on the night before I turned thirty; the other, a retelling of a happenstance event that bothered me greatly back in August. (Yes. August.)
The birthday ramblings don’t amount to much — I felt for some reason that I owed it to myself to get all wordy and nostalgic before I turned thirty. It took three or more times of CTRL-A, Delete before I finally gave up and realized that I didn’t have any profound insights on turning thirty. Not only did I not have any great wisdom to impart, I didn’t really mind that I was leaving my twenties behind. True, my twenties were good to me — any decade that can produce the two loves of my life (Mike and Erin), a stable job for over half of it, and a very brief time at the beginning in which I paid the bills with words can’t be bad at all — but I wasn’t and still am not overly sad to move forward. The despair and the anguish and the chest-beating and the binge drinking that accompanied some of my acquantences’ forays into decade number four never washed over me. I’m in a good place. And if there’s anything I learned about writing while in my twenties, it’s that nothing is as boring to read about as someone else being in a good place.
So that post which I initially chalked up to writer’s block I’ve written off as writer’s apathy. There is something to be said for knowing when you have nothing to say and keeping your mouth shut.
The other post I’ve been nursing since August has been driving me crazy for the opposite reason. One small moment in which Erin, Willow, and I were glared at and summarily judged by a septegenarian in a Buick the size of my house started the spiral of musings and rantings about everything from judgement upon stay-at-home moms to the decay of my particular suburb and with it The American Dream (if that even is such a thing) to the great lessons from one of my favorite books (The Way We Never Were, by Stephanie Coontz, which I believe should be required reading for anyone who tries to come at you with an “argument” that starts with “In the good old days…”) to What We Can Learn from Betty
Draper Francis. I can’t finish it because I can’t decide exactly what I want it to be about. Is it about me? My kid? My dog? My neighborhood? My reaction to being judged? My overactive imagination that assumes I’m being judged? I’ve revised and revised and rewritten and held my own personal workshop on it (asking myself things like “did you earn that cliche?” and scribbling “SHOW DON’T TELL” in the margins…) and finally decided that at this moment, the fact that I can’t choose what it needs to be about means it doesn’t need to be written at this moment.
When I was in fifth grade and struggling to learn to play the trumpet, my band director scoffed at me when I said I didn’t have time to practice. “You don’t FIND time,” he sneered, “you MAKE time.” His words echo in my head when I tell myself I don’t have time to write. I don’t make time. I’m not one of these people who can get up early in the morning and write for an hour while the house is still quiet — smacks too much of grad school and the stomachaches I’d fight while trying to finish a paper before heading to work. The point is not to list all of my excuses why I don’t write more; rather, the point is that I don’t make time to write, so I don’t have the luxury of writer’s block. If I can’t come up with a point and a good reason why I need to say whatever it is in my limited amount of time, I move on.
Someday I will come back to the post about the dog and the baby and the Buick and the neighbor. Because it’s good stuff, I promise you. I just am not going to make time right now to pull the good stuff out of the rest.
Besides, if you had the choice between writing by yourself and playing with this adorable little reader, would you really choose writing? I don’t know about you, but I choose her every time.