On Writing

March 21, 2012

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Beyond work, your family and any pressing needs, what do you think about when you’re stuck in traffic, or watching your kid’s karate lesson, or taking a shower? That one thing — your passion — which is always just there, lurking (but in a good way) just behind your conscious thoughts? Is it bike racing, knitting, local politics, golf?

In my case it is, and has been for much of my life, writing.

If I could find a way to write for even one eighth of the time that I think about writing — even one sixteenth! — I would be prolific. Not a day goes by when I don’t think of updating my blog. (And yet, the most recent post is dated January 21.) And then there are the personal essays and the memoir, all of which have been “in progress” for years now.

I know, I know, I have a baby — how can you write a book when you have a baby?! Trust me, I do regularly use Hugh as an excuse for why I can’t do many things! (A very cute, chunky monkey of an excuse.) But come on — when CJ was a baby I ran a business; I should be able to write 500 words every now and then.

With these thoughts in mind, today I sat outside at Panera, trying to make good on my promise that on the days that Hugh is with a sitter for a few hours, I will do one of two things: write or exercise. (In addition to the other crap I need to do.)

As for why I sat on the patio at Panera, next to unscenic and loud Route 113, instead of at a hipper coffee shop where I could stare out at the ocean, that’s easy: BECAUSE THEN I WOULD STARE AT THE OCEAN. It felt safer cheesy, chain-y Panera. Or at least so I thought.

At this point we can cue that loud noise of a needle scratching over a record.  About ten minutes into my writing, a pleasant-seeming man with a healthy Boston accent opened his new tablet and asked if I could possibly show him how to get to his gmail account. It all seemed so simple.

I quickly got him to gmail.com and sent him back to his table to enter his email address. After a few minutes I heard him sighing and angrily pressing buttons with his pointer finger and I knew we were headed down a bad path.

“Having some trouble?” I said.

He gave me his name (as part of the email account we were trying to reach) and I immediately recognized that he is the Newbuyport Building Inspector — small town living at its finest. I told him as much, and he asked if I lived in town. I knew that he would know my house, which we purchased from a builder just seven months ago; the house was taken down to the foundation and studs and rebuilt, so I know there were lots of permits involved.

As we’ve heard from our neighbors, the B.I. confirmed that our house, pre-renovation, was 100% Crazy Town. Hoarders owned the place and were sleeping in the kitchen and using propane for heat. Scaffolding had been up on the front of the house for the better part of a decade. The yard was infested with skunks. It took three months just to clear everything out, and at one point the B.I. thought the whole house was going to cave in.

It’s a pretty nice place now, so we had a laugh. He told me who to go see in City Hall, a man who might have some photos of the house “before.” I’ll probably do it; it would be fun to see.

We never did get him online at Panera. By the time our chat was finished and he headed out, I realized that I wasn’t going to get any real writing done today. But sometimes it’s the exercise more than the final product, the journey rather than the destination.

And that brings me to this moment, when I am finishing up my iced coffee and trying to resist the urge to do a weird chair dance to this horrible, cheesy jazz-lite music that truly can’t be what anyone would choose to hear. I feel for the people who work here; they must at least consider jamming a plastic fork into their ear drums after this mix has looped a few times.

It’s almost time to go home and let the sitter go, then walk to school to get CJ. It’s a gorgeous day so we’ll probably loiter in the playground. Then it’s the most hectic time of the day: dinner, baths, and bedtime routines. After that, I’ll check Ye Olde Facebook, play some Words with Friends, chat with David, and perhaps have a glass of red. (“Perhaps.” Hahaha. I crack myself up.) And then, suddenly, I will be overcome with fatigue and crawl into bed to read a few pages of The Forgotten Garden before falling asleep.

But at least for some of that time, I will be thinking about writing. As for actual writing, realistically, that will be on Thursday at the earliest. And that is okay. It has to be.

  • Jengargi

    This is basically me!

  • Meganne

    I think with writing there is always a lot of stirring the pot before the cooking happens, especially in a busy life. It’s all material, right?u00a0

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