Monday, May 31, 2010

Excuse Me, I'm WRITE-ing

Pea flower

I have sometimes been a cranky writer.

"I'm writing," I say when my daughter interrupts. I put special emphasis on the word writing, and extra-special emphasis on the first syllable.

I think I do this because when I draw out the wr sound, it's an act of verbal wringing. I want to wring the interruption right out of my day.

Okay, the truth is I was a cranky writer as lately as Saturday, when working on my Barbie poem. My Littlest became very insistent when I was smack in the middle of what felt like my best thoughts. I had to stop in the "boys" section and attend to her. I felt irritated, and I even gave her a mini talk on how it's unkind to interrupt people's creative processes. It can take away their thoughts.

There is a place for drawing boundaries around our moments. Still, I think Julia Cameron is right. Interruptions will not ruin us. They will not wring our thoughts out of us, ruin our poem or chapter. Do we really think our ideas are so superficial as to disappear that easily?

If I'm honest with myself, I know my daughter cannot steal my thoughts; they rise from deep places. So why did I give her the mini-talk? It's because my pleasure had been interrupted, and that felt uncomfortable. That is the more precise reason, and it moves away from blame.

Somehow it seems important to try to be more precise and, instead of blaming, say, "I felt sad to stop writing my poem, because I was having so much fun." It is the real reason for my irritation. After all, as a seasoned writer I've been interrupted over and again, and it never stopped me from finally getting my words on the page.

As it turned out, my Barbie poem went where it needed to go. Even with a 45-minute detour between lines three and four. Maybe even because of the 45-minute detour (special emphasis on the word because :)


Pea Flower photo by L.L. Barkat.

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23 Comments:

Blogger M.L. Gallagher said...

Oh yes, the interruptions from our little ones.

My daughters learned what the phrase -- I have a deadline -- really meant. It didn't mean, mummy's busy. It really meant, Stay away -- grouchie mummy at play. And nobody likes a grouchy mummy!

8:15 AM  
OpenID shrinkingthecamel.com said...

Ah, the mysterious route of writing. How about when we avoid writing altogether because we know we are going to get interrupted anyway? That's more my problem.

8:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Ha! I'm with the Camel. That's more where I am these days. This part of the book did make me think. So much good stuff. Wish I could turn it all out on the main post. Sometimes I feel like I do lose my thoughts...only to have them return later, in force. Perhaps they needed to gel a while longer.

I'm trying to view interruptions as something different...

9:02 AM  
Blogger mom2six said...

I find it easier to pick up my thoughts after an interruption. Probably because being interrupted is my life (the six kids thing). But I become extremely "cranky" when painting - no interruptions, too much fun. Could be the reason I seem to paint less often than I write.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

I liked where she went with this one, she surprised me a bit.

If I stop to think about it, I find at times that my taking a few minutes here and there to write interrupts somebody else's priorities. It's just that I don't always think what they're doing is as cool as what I do.

One day I dream of not being such a jerk about my stuff. (special emphasis on "my" :)

10:07 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

I'm lucky, I guess. I have a room of my own in which to write in which my loyal Westie Jack sleeps in a big chair until my loyal Westie Seamus decides it's time to be fed and given attention. I get quite a few hours in on the weekdays, not so many on weekends when my husband's at home. But my husband knows now to knock and ask, May I interrupt?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Cassandra Frear said...

That crankiness you describe sounds oddly familiar.

12:27 PM  
Blogger deb said...

I'm afraid that I will regret what I say here,
so I'll just agree with you, and Bradley, and Laura,

and keep the faith

1:57 PM  
Blogger n. davis rosback said...

excuse me...but, i just want to say...i think westie jacks are cute.

6:00 PM  
Blogger Nichole said...

Yes, been there. I used to prayer journal a lot in the mornings before even facing the fam and I would say "I'm PRAYing" and watch sad faces go away. It's a delicate balance but you can't always have your time when children are asleep. As far as the thought process goes, I "write" my stuff for hours on end while folding laundry, driving in the car, dishes etc. It's the incubation stage where the good stuff gets developed. I talk to myself on whatever it is I'm working on until I finally get that chance to have my fingers cruise the keyboard.

7:06 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I love the way you write - interrupted or not!
I have found though - that the older I get the more apt I am to lose the whole thing if I don't at least scribble down a word or two.
I have spent more time lately trying to remember the "brilliant" thought I had when I was out walking... Of course I'm not sure how brilliant it could have been if I can't seem to conjure it up again.
I am very far behind on Julie's book and very far behind on writing anything - especially a Barbie poem - totally out of the loop these days. I have no little ones to distract me - it seems that an empty nest isn't quite the place of leisure I had imagined.

8:03 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Yes, in my most limited way, I know the feeling, L.L., even though we don't have the interruptions here which you have.

I try to let my writing be as spontaneous as possible and clean up the mess afterwards. But like what I think you're getting at, one has to trust that through whatever circumstances, something helpful and glorifying to God has, and is taking place.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Red Letter Believers said...

How many times have i been writing something and oops...the power goes out or I dont save the latest version or some other crazy thing happens and all I'm left with is a blank screen.

These interruptions drive my crazy, but the 'next version' always seems to be better.

Love the kids illustration...they really never are a 'bother.'

11:12 AM  
Blogger Billy Coffey said...

Why do kids seem to have that inner radar that pings every time their writer parents start typing? This is why I write late at night, after everyone's in bed. That way I won't have to feel guilty about giving them the talk.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

"Interruptions will not ruin us. They will not wring our thoughts out of us, ruin our poem or chapter. Do we really think our ideas are so superficial as to disappear that easily?"

Not only that, but I LOVE interruptions. They introduce a wonderful randomness that I could never find on my own.

I'm not smart enough to compare strange things on my own. But if I allow interruptions, create space for them even, everything around me helps me find more interesting connections that break free from tired old cliche.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Vicki said...

Love it. Your writing always speaks to me.

And to know that God is in the interruptions....ah, yes!

12:08 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

You're right...those thoughts don't vanish. With me, they get buried. I need quiet time to uncover them.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Charity Singleton said...

Oh, this was exquisite, and written like a writer! I think a writer is defined as much by how she thinks as how she constructs sentences. And thinking about interruptions this way could only be by a close observer, by one who is listening to the world around her and pulling that into her words. You are a marvelous writer, interruptions and all.

6:45 PM  
Blogger A Simple Country Girl said...

Gotta love those detours because side-trips oftentimes are way better than the planned ones.

Is this where I drop off my Barbie words? Written full of interruptions and strolls of the main trail...

http://aspiretoleadaquietlife.blogspot.com/2010/06/from-mouth-of-barbie.html

Blessings.

1:01 AM  
Blogger A Simple Country Girl said...

OFF the main trail...

and I did that mistake all on my own ;-)

Blessings.

1:02 AM  
Anonymous Monica Sharman said...

Oh, you beat me to it! I was getting online to leave my RAP link. Here it is, for good form.

Barbies in an oven can't smell too good. Even with enchilada sauce. :)

http://mybigthree.highcallingblogs.com/2010/06/03/things-in-common/

10:14 AM  
Blogger RissaRoo said...

A scene that is echoed often at my house. I don't know if there's any other situation in which I feel more torn...finish writing this line, or answer this question/referee this argument/clean this mess/let the dog out/let the cat in....etc. etc. etc.

Thanks for sharing this, it makes me feel better to know it's not just me!

and, I hope it's not too late to add a Barbie poem...
http://anerissara.blogspot.com/2010/06/reflections-on-barbie-her-frumpy-aunt.html

2:35 PM  
Blogger H. Gillham said...

I always enjoy what you write, but I have trouble commenting. Perhaps, I need interruptions.

*giggles*

4:08 PM  

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