Now that we’re having a kid, I rarely get asked about writing, except by friends. It’s awesome when they do, though — it makes me feel like I am still a separate person from the baby.*
*Yes, this is ridiculous for multiple reasons. First one being, I’m NOT physically separate from the baby, a ha ha ha ha. Second, the baby ain’t born yet. So apart from voracious hungers, clumsiness, and baby care prep, I’m not yet giving up my time and attention. And thirdly, finally, we’ve received so many thoughtful and kind gifts from people in honor of the impending arrival of the baby, that it feels damn ungrateful to already (!) be mourning the loss of selfishness and loss of self. But these emotions, they are complex. I can try analyze them further in the future at 3 a.m. during a feeding, if I don’t fall asleep. Also I read things like this, and feel that even my little worries about loss of independence are still too small of scope:
You were twenty, twenty-three, thirty, thirty-five. You were free and young and somebody else.
We were free and young and somebody else.
But now, we’re mothers.
At some point the reality will hit us: We are never alone again, no matter where we are, and we are the only ones in the world who have become this person toward this child.
(One of the more depressing AND enjoyably upfront takes on becoming a mother, and on losing your previous sense of self. Fascinating. Also discusses postpartum depression, which isn’t really what I’m talking about here but is still important. Way to go, Renegade Mothering! I predict you will take up more of my reading brainspace in the future.)
But anyhow. Writing. My Nano project is progressing slooooowly, and I’m okay with that. I am an irresponsible discovery writer — the lazy kind who only starts asking deep questions about ethics or consequences or gourd types in my fictional society partway through writing Chapter Six, and then “has” to rewrite the whole damn thing. My brain likes this, though. It likes to rework and rework and rework, and it is not efficient. In fact, sometimes it seems akin to mental masturbation. But plop a baby into that scenario, and all the luxurious reworkings? You don’t have time for that! You have, as I think Eddie Vedder put it in some interview A told me about, twenty minutes to write a song while your baby is taking a nap. You start to actually use your time wisely, or you don’t produce anything at all. You have shorter creativity periods, but they’re more saturated, more productive and immersive. Depending on whether or not you like Pearl Jam — and in reference to this, their newer stuff — this may or may not be encouraging to you. But I think the general point stands. You stop fucking around. I think that what baby expectance and this year’s Nano have taught me is that I do a loooot of fucking around.
To practically deal with this, though, there are lots of podcasts and/or authors who have tips for outlining even when you’re a discovery writer or panther, and who have put those tips on the internet, for free! Already I’ve found that for this new book, even the most basic of outlines is more helpful than my way of writing/rewriting/rewriting/rewriting/arrrrghing/rewriting. I hope that means I’m adapting, even if it’s slow and still lazy. I also hope it means that even after the baby arrives, and I add Mother to this current version of Me, that I can keep all the variant parts of self together.
Though in case you’re listening, magics of the universe? I certainly wouldn’t mind ditching the Ulcerative Colitis Me. Just putting that out there.