In Prague I was spoiled by a cafe around the corner. A few times on our walks home, I stopped for a mocha and an hour of writing while Justin took the kids back to the apartment to play with Lego. I sat in the sun filling my pages, finding my way to a start or flash fiction or prayer. I had time to wander my way into writing.
I lack the discipline to open my notebook and say: This Topic and only This Topic. I do much better to spend a page going on about my present worry or insecurity (usually same as yesterday’s) and then beg God for a little more grace. By the end of a page like that I might feel guilty for not offering gratitude, so I start the next page with all the reasons why I should feel content. About halfway through that I might beg for sincere contentment, the ability to actually live presently and, for good measure, a little more grace.
Then, finally, I might turn to a prompt or pick up a previous WP session and rip through another page or two. Even so, my discipline might be sidelined by the sudden thought of my imminent death (eternal perspective). I throw myself into a paragraph about purpose. I write myself a note to not fuss so much. I start to hate introspection. I return to my work, skipping a line as if to mark an end to that wandering mess. I go on.
Today I had a chunk of writing time, stopping at a cafe (okay, it was a Starbucks and don’t be judge-y about me sitting in a Starbucks when Vienna is littered with real cafes) – anyway, I stopped at a STARBUCKS and sat upstairs facing a wall. I’ve got a fiction start I like enough to keep writing. But I was distracted by the coffee splatter on the wall and the teeny tiny table and people walking inches behind me on their way to the toilet, so I moved to a stool at a high table where I was distracted by the other people in the room (English, Spanish, American) and all the people crossing the intersection I could see out the window.
You know, I wasn’t allowed to drink chocolate milk when I was in grade school and I think I should scale back on the espresso shots now.
This was going somewhere.
Before this afternoon at Starbucks, I worked my WP into our evening. This is the worst time for me to write. If I’ve got something hot, it’s interrupted and I get cranky. More likely, I haven’t got anything hot and the pages trudge through a mire of self-loathing. Sometimes, when I have a few lines left at the bottom of the notebook page I write
End of page
end of page.
just to get it over with.
But I still manage to write. I find pockets of time to sit with my notebook or stand typing on my laptop or read through revision notes. I find time to do this! If I went through my last few notebooks, maybe a fifth (fifteenth?) of the pages contain something I write into an essay or a fiction piece. But all of the pages feed my process.
I have a husband and two kids. They are lovely and they interrupt me. I put my notebook away or close the file and practice living presently. I think
this is a big deal
I think I am learning to trust that the necessary WP, drafting and revising will get done and may get done well. I think I may be a little closer to being okay with my interrupted, scattered writing. I keep showing up at the page for more.