The smart pants out there who know me are probably thinking that I have more than one, but this is a strange one. The whole of yesterday, I thought I’d become Rilla. Maybe I need to stop reading her blog. Imagine: I had two arguing voices in my brain.
Now, I’ve always spoken alone and aloud. Yep. I actually think that many people do that: more than are willing to admit it anyway. I can’t spend two minutes alone in a car without having whole conversations with myself, absent people or imaginary characters. And I can’t stand in front of a mirror without launching into an argument with whoever happens to really annoy me at any given time. I rehearse conversations. Or I re-enact conversations after the fact, especially when I feel I missed an opportunity for a good retort. You know how it is. Punchy lines so often spurt out once we don’t need them any more. Maybe that’s why I love writing. I can rehearse, revise and polish as much as is necessary.
Anyway, last night, after a truly horrid day, here is what went on in my mind:
– You are a horrible mother. How could you scream like that at poor M? Yes, the potty training is taking forever, but she’s not even 3, for Pete’s sake. And K. didn’t see your foot when she dragged that stool all over it. You didn’t have to scream at her, too.
– I’m tired, that’s what I am. These kids, sometimes, they drive me up the wall. How dare they get sick at the same time, anyway? And the nanny, too ? What is this: a conspiracy ? I had things to do. For weeks, I’ve been stuck with my translation, deadlines and what not. Now that I have some time, I wanted to prepare a bunch of submissions. I had to check the Children’s Writer’s and Illustrator’s Market book, publishers’ websites, editors’ infos, blogs, and what not, in order to target the right persons. This takes time. And I wanted to do that today, because then, tomorrow, I can actually WRITE. I’m supposed to be a writer, and all I’ve been writing lately is blogs! I don’t want to be the author of a sole, lonely book. I have to work on new stuff. How can I do that with two sick children constantly interrupting me for the pettiest things? Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mother.
– Yeah, well, you are soooo not patient! All you care about is your computer, your writing, the blogs, emails and reading books and articles about the process. As Jane Yolen said, just “WRITE THE DAMN BOOK” already. Stop looking everywhere for the magic formula. Get organized. Stop wasting so much time. And if the kids are sick, forget about the writing for one day. Why didn’t you just put the submission process aside, and stay with them, instead of constantly running up and down the stairs whenever the little one started wailing – quite a pair of lungs she’s got that one. She’d make a good opera singer.
– What? Spend the whole day playing with dolls? Constructing Charminars – that’s how my little one calls whatever thing she builds with her blocks ? Watching “Dragon Tales”? Are you kidding? I can’t do that. I don’t know how to do that. I forgot.
– Exactly : lousy mother. And in the end, you don’t get the work done, and you traumatize your children.
– I did get the work done. I sent out 4 submissions and 4 queries !
– Yeah, but at what price ? Did you see the look on M.’s face when you got so angry at her?
– Well, did she have to poop in her pants, right after she peed in the previous pair? I’m only human, you know.
I went to bed feeling dejected and utterly miserable. I got up twice to go and kiss the girls – who look so angelic in their sleep – and whisper that I love them. Thank goodness, I had a good book waiting for me. I’m reading “Tears of the Giraffe” from the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, by Alexander McCall Smith. Just the right dose of down-to-earth philosophy to help me settle into sleep. Today, I’m back to square one. Both kids still sick, still no nanny, and maybe I should just write this writing day off, but… I can’t. I’m thinking that once they’re all grown-up and they curse me whenever they have to pay their psychotherapist, I’ll show them this post. I’m just a struggling, not very patient mom trying to balance priorities in her life : children, family, work, AND writing. Because even though I love them both to death, the writing also nurtures my soul and makes me feel like I’m achieving something for myself. And contrary to some other mothers-writers I know, I cannot get up at 5 or 6 am, when everyone else is asleep, to write. So, pipe down, the two arguing voices, up there, and get out of my brain. That was Rilla’s idea, anyway. I’m going back to talking to absent or imaginary people, depending on the mood and circumstances.