I've started writing a novel. As I swing into the rhythm of bringing together 80,000 or so words, there are all the usual telltale signs that come with being amidst the pages of a first draft. There are random sentences scrawled in notebooks, and on sticky notes. There's the purposeful noticing of the things we see, and the things we don't see. There's the familiar zone, the flow, the blissful escape into a world I'm creating from nothing.
And then there are the stolen moments.
And just like last time, I'm acutely aware of how inconvenient writing a book really is. There are moments I need to grab and cling to in order to fit the writing in. Like the super early mornings, when bleary-eyed, I power up the computer before the sun comes up, the hours when a child is at a birthday party, the minutes when the precious people in my life head outside to enjoy the sunshine while I opt to sit indoors and tap away.
Then there are the moments I have to unwillingly tear myself away from the computer to tend to the mundane tasks of mopping floors and folding clothes. Moments I need to spend making sure that life keeps ticking along. Lunch boxes need to be packed, homework needs to be checked, bills need to be paid, groceries need to be shopped for. There are swimming lessons and football games, playdates and dentist appointments. Dinners to be cooked and dishes to be washed.
A scene pops into my mind as I dip my hands into soapy dishwater and reach for a sponge. I could steal a moment here to write a scene but one glance at the stack of dishes on the bench means I need to tuck the idea away instead. Besides, the bedtime routine is due to begin any moment.
"Tomorrow," I think to myself.
I've been thinking this too often lately. I'm antsy. I want to be writing more. I want to feel like I'm totally with the writing when I'm writing. And I haven't been. Because I've been sitting down to write and thinking about all the other stuff. But I know this trick. I've been down this road before. This time, thankfully, I know how to listen, and I know exactly what I need.
I've had a busy month. I'm usually very good with fitting the writing in. But lately, there just hasn't been enough time no matter how much I've tried to squeeze. And I've been pushing aside the thoughts about my fictional characters for thoughts about interviews with inspiring creatives and and dinners in the Tuscan countryside. That is, I've been recording episodes for my upcoming podcast, I've been organising a writing workshop, and I've been planning a writing retreat in Tuscany. All the kinds of things I decided I wanted to form part of my writing life. These things light me up: they bring me joy, they allow me to hold space for others, they give me a chance to connect with amazing people and help equally as amazing people.
But at the very core, I'm a writer. And lately I've been feeling like the fragments of stolen moments just haven't been enough.
I'm feeling the need to immerse myself more fully in my novel. I need to clear my headspace and make room for the kind of creative work writing a novel entails. Even if just for a weekend. So I'm stealing one. Think: a country town, quaint cafés and eateries. The thing is, I won't be spending much time in the cafes and restaurants, and I won't be venturing off to any day spas. I'm going on a retreat. Alone. Without kids.
And I'm going there to write. One great big stolen moment of two blissful writing days to myself.
I know that in whatever I set out to create, I need to bring my whole self with me in order to give the very best of what I have to give. That was sage advice Confucious gave us when he said, "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." And if that means stealing a moment that lasts a weekend in order to show up fully for the very thing that lights me up, then that's what I'll do. With all my heart of course.
Image Credits: Airbnb