Writing as Child’s Play {Writer Mama Archives}

(In an effort to increase the frequency of my posts, I am digging through my unpublished writing archives and personal journal entries. Titles and Categories including the word “archives” indicate dated, yet relevant material.)

March 2007

I recently did a thorough cleaning in my boys’ bedroom. I knew it was in need of a mother’s hand, since I had not cleaned it for weeks. Papers, clothes, books, trash, cups, Lego’s, action figures, Hot Wheels and more. Many of these toys had designated containers and were suppose to be in the closet. The rule is: “nothing comes out of the closet unless the rest of the room is clean.”

I guess I had failed at enforcing that rule, because the closet was empty and the floor was full.

The mess did not happen over night (okay sometimes it does only take the rug rats about 5 minutes, but bear with me as I try to make a parallel example here!) Little by little and one by one, toys accumulate in corners, fail to return to toy bins, and make new homes under beds. On the flip side, it occurred to me that my writing career would never be successful if I did not take every opportunity to write, just as my boys took every opportunity to play. Though I see my writing career as much more orderly than my boys’ bedroom, the principle was clear; small steps lead to large accomplishments.

With five kids ages three to thirteen and my husband running his own business, it’s hard enough to fit in three meals and a shower, let alone writing time! The next step in my spring cleaning objective was creating a consistent cleaning schedule in order to avoid hours of cleaning at any one time. This would free me from the guilt of feeling like I should be doing something else instead of writing.

More importantly, a consistent writing schedule would be more about opportunity than pre-determined blocks of time. My kids didn’t plan their playtime—they played whenever they had a chance. I imagined the unplanned moment when my boys are playing pirates in the back yard. I will sneak upstairs with my reheated coffee and begin typing out the inspiration I had started scratching in my notebook earlier that morning when the coffee was fresh and the kids were fast asleep.

It didn’t take long before my three-year old orders me to make him “bwekfast” before the sun peeks over the horizon, followed by my five-year old hollering up the stairs to tell me big brother won’t play with him…again. I try to buy a few more key strokes, but eventually give in to my preschooler, leaving the humming of the computer and the scribbles in my notebook all on their own.

Although I interrupt their play time on occasion, my kids always find a way back to their toys. In the same way, I know I will find a way back to my story. Inch-by-inch, given enough time, my published work will accumulate right along with the height of the Lego tower my five-year-old has been building for the past week.

Now, if I could just teach my eight-year-old to make my three-year-old breakfast…

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