My Writing LifeShawn Mihalik
Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Robyn Devine. Robyn is a knitter, writer, and mother. Robyn’s book, She Makes Hats, is available from Asymmetrical Press. Robyn blogs at SheMakesHats.com.
It’s 5:30am, and after rocking Lou for 30 minutes, she’s finally back to sleep, and should stay sleep until around 7am. I’m wide awake, however, so I steal away to the table, turn on my computer, and write like the wind until I hear Owen stirring in his bed at 6:15. That’s the most consistent writing time I know I’ll get all day, so I try to make the most of it and ignore Facebook, blogs, and Instagram. This only works about 30% of the time.
It’s 2pm. Lou is asleep, having fought her nap like her life depended on it. I whip open the computer to finish a blog post draft while I wolf down some food, hoping to have enough time to hit publish. Owen has decided that it’s the perfect time to read a book while FINALLY eating his lunch, all while watching a video on the iPad, so we’re sharing space at the table. Everyone is still in pajamas, and I manage to hit publish right as Lou stirs awake.
It’s 6:30pm, and we’re eating dinner in shifts, as always. The table is too small for the four of us to comfortably eat together most nights, but having such a small table allows more room for the kids to play, so we make do. Owen and Zach have eaten, and so I sit down with my plate while letting Lou slather herself in mashed potatoes and chicken and attempt to write a bit of what might one day be an essay. The words come in fits and spurts, but they come, so I type away between spooning bits of food into either my mouth or Lou’s, and then I wipe up the mess.
It’s 10:30pm. Owen is FINALLY asleep (I cannot even, you guys. Everyone else’s kids seem to love sleep, and mine just don’t). Zach has passed out on the couch while a movie plays, unwatched, on Netflix, so I open my computer. I look back at what I’ve written over the course of the day, scrap approximately half of it, and keep writing. Jumbled thoughts slowly become what will eventually be a hat-knitting series on the blog, and I jot down a few notes on a maybe-book I’ve been tossing around before my eyes start involuntarily closing and I know it’s time for bed.
This is my writing life, a life with two small children, trains underfoot, and a passion for writing that fits in wherever it can find space. Some writers carve out dedicated time in the morning (or afternoon, or whenever), but for me, right now, this is it. I write when I can, just like I knit when I can, words tumbling out a few at a time in stolen moments while kids play around me, or nap fitfully, or the house is silent and I am the only one awake.
Someday, not too far in the future, these two little monkeys will be old enough that they will be in school, living entire sections of their life without me. I also know that in a few short months it will be summer, and we will spend the majority of our days outside getting sand in our toes and sun on our cheeks, and my writing time will be relegated to just those few quiet hours when everything is dark and I should be doing a load of laundry so we have clean bathing suits for tomorrow.
I read recently that Toni Morrison wrote The Bluest Eye in the evenings after her children were in bed. She didn’t have hours upon hours to wait for the muse. Instead, she wrote when she had time. I do not pretend to be anywhere near the writer Ms. Morrison is, and yet I find her methodology quite comforting. I steal moments, much like she did, to put down on paper the things squirming their way out of me. This is my writing life, and for now it’s exactly what it’s supposed to be.