The challenges of small humans

My son isn’t as small as he used to be, but he’s still little. Things that are important to him are TV shows, Among Us, video games, snacks, his friends, and informing me of every minute detail in his life as it happens. Usually abruptly and without warning. Hugs. He is a big fan of hugs.

So when I try to work on something in my home office throughout the day, on the weeks he is with me, I usually get most of the work done after he has gone to bed. This is why I have such a weird schedule that is alien to most of the rest of the population. At night, without constant interruption, either from my son or anybody else, I can get something done.

Today, he is playing Among Us, which is basically the party game, Mafia, which is a little bit like clue only you already know who the murderer is and it’s cute little animated astronauts who also have to do other tasks. The drawback to the game is it allows a bunch of homebound ten year olds to play together online, and they spend most of the time picking on each other and ganging up on each other. The stuff that comes out of these kids’ mouths too. It’s like every jerk from a YouTube comments section decided to play a video game together.

Every five or ten minutes he expresses his outrage in his outside voice so I am sure to know exactly how unfair everyone in the game is being. Sometimes he gets so worked up he starts crying, at which point, I tell him to sort himself out. Either turn off the device, or don’t cry about it. It’s a process.

The whole thing is very distracting.

I still miss the hell out of him when he isn’t here though.

Work that isn’t work

The last few days, I have had to take a step back from writing. Last night, I took an allergy pill to help with the effects of the wildfires that have been smoking out the Front Range, and in combination with the masks we wear, had been wreaking havoc on my sinuses. The allergy pill dropped me this time and I slept a full ten hours or more.

The night before, I tried to catch up on sleep, heading to bed early(about 11pm), but woke up two hours later with an article idea I needed to pitch to a magazine. I wrote up the pitch and sent it. And then I wrote about 750 words of the article before going back to bed. At 3:30am.

The night before that had been nerve-wracking, with thoughts of upcoming court, a continuation of the Family Law battle that has been raging for the last six years, which I for one was sick of six years ago. I tend to think courthouses are a gathering place of people who have taken some wrong turns in their lives. I’m not a fan of courtrooms and the dregs of society that gravitate towards them. I would rather sit on a barstood in a dive bar for an hour than a courtroom for ten minutes.

But sometimes you have to shift gears and focus your attention on these things, instead of the work that isn’t work of writing.

I really mean that when I think of writing, and sometimes I feel guilty about it. I can sit for hours and peck away at my keyboard, telling stories, writing the lives of characters, and dragging the images out of the aether as they wish to be told. Not a moment of it feels like work, and sometimes I feel like I can’t consider it worthwhile unless I am miserable doing it. I love writing. The last couple days I haven’t been able to write, I have gotten bluesy. Talking with a friend the othe day, I realized that was my problem. I hadn’t written. So, tonight I finally got a chance to sit down and hammer out the second half of a chapter.

The writing is going well. My word count wasn’t that great tonight, but the chapter was completed and I got some good stuff down. Tomorrow is another day.

It is hard as a creative, who was raised in a blue collar family who measure their productivity in the grey hairs on their heads, the lint in their pockets, and the aches and pains in their joints that bear witness to an honest days work. When I tell my stories, relate my experiences–obliquely, and not so subtlely either–I feel accomplished. Moreso than I ever felt pushing papers from one side of my desk to the other at a university for nearly twenty years. It’s hard to justify what you do as a creative, when you were raised to think that kind of work wasn’t honest.

But as anyone who ever tried to create a story out of nothing, or even a story out of something, will tell you. It isn’t easy. If what writing has done to my sleep schedule these days, not to mention my fingers from typing, my wrists, my joints, and my neck, it does beat the hell out of you.

It isn’t turning a wrench or digging a hole, but it is important. At least, for the first time in my life, I feel like the work I am doing is important.

Sunday night

Tonight I finished another chapter. Well, the draft anyway. I’m focusing more on just telling the story and working out the details later in subsequent drafts rather than what I had done, which was to tell the story perfectly the first run through. All that ever accomplishes is frustration and feeling like you suck because it isn’t ever as polished or right as you hope.

Drafting gives you the lightning in a bottle moments that you can glean some truly inspired pieces from the mess and work them in later in better, more efficient ways. Over the last couple day, I covered a lot of ground in the story. Between the notes I took yesterday and the narrative I built today, things are coming along nicely.

I squeezed in some binge watching, and have found Tennison on Amazon Prime. It’s good, but I don’t think it is nearly gritty or cheauvanistic enough. Life on Mars was done better. But I did get coffee today and my fans at Dutch Bros. cheered me on. One of them even said she was baffled by my new sleeping schedule, which believe me, it baffles me too. Tonight, I am running on fumes, still coming down from the third cup of coffee of the day, but my mind sufficiently tapped when it comes to putting words together that I actually like. Even on a draft level.

I keep thinking about the ethics of what I am writing. I understand that no matter what I do, some people won’t like what I write, and that will burn bridges. Not saying a lot of these bridges didn’t need to be burned a long time ago. It’s not as if a lot of those I am thinking about will even care if the bridge even burns. Not saying that I should hinge my life on what other people expect from me either. After all, that hasn’t worked out so well anyway.

I keep coming to this. I think of those inspirational quotes about “Well-behaved women seldom make history,” and sometimes I forget that this isn’t just for women. I think it’s about anyone willing to kick back at the bullshit we are held back by. Today, I could honestly, hardly care less about how people will react to my work that I know personally.

My bigger concern is that once I pour all of my time and heart into this, it will just be swept aside by anyone I send it to for publication. I know I’m not a terrible writer. I know that I have cultivated my voice and have stories to tell that are often very good. Stories that resonate with people and give them an emotional reaction. And I have had editors send back a form letter saying “It didn’t hold our interest” while a bunch of other crap gets published.

Gatekeeping. Gotta fucking love that.

Where are all the great books? The stories that captivate us? Inspire us? So many people complain that even movies are nothing but remakes or superhero movies. Why is that? Because someone is holding the gate. And they really shouldn’t be.

Anyway, chasing my dreams right now leaves me poor in funds, but rich in spirit. I’ll take the latter.

It just sucks that my measurement of success is a handful of people giving the thumbs up or down at a publishing house, depending on what some pencil pushers predict will make them lots of money based on graphs and charts.

Fuck it. I’m not stopping.