One of my favorite quotes is this one, from E.L. Doctorow: “Writing a novel is like driving at night. You can only see as far as the headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” It is very true and reassuring, especially for someone like me who never outlines their work.
But writing a novel while also being primary caregiver for a baby is like driving at night and it’s raining, but the windshield wipers keep getting stuck, and the car is slowly leaking fuel, and the muffler is dragging, and there’s this weird tapping noise, and every time you get out to refuel or fix those damn windshield wipers you run the risk of clowns pelting you with cream pies. You can make the trip, but it’s miserable, and takes for-fucking-ever.
For a few months now, Eloise has let me nurse her down for a nap and then slip away once she’s asleep, so I get a few short breaks during the day, but there’s so much that needs to be done and it’s hard to prioritize myself/writing. Her naps are pretty consistently half an hour, which is not enough time to get into a state of flow with writing, so when I do write it’s just cranking out words, with the idea that it’s better to get something down because you can’t edit a blank page, but it doesn’t make for particularly satisfying writing. And then a week or two or more will go by where I don’t write at all outside of journaling, and I just get frustrated and self-pitying and angry, and so I force myself to write even just a sentence or two and I feel a tiny bit better.
So I’ve been working on Mirjam’s story, which still doesn’t have a decent working title, but I’m embarrassed at how few pages I have. I feel like the quality is… okay. Editable, at the very least, and better than I feared this draft would be. I also have a a list of few more small presses that I want to send Tigerlily to, but I feel like at this point I want to reread it again before I can properly pitch it, so I need to scrounge up some time for that.
There are larger issues in my life to write about: incorporating motherhood and individuality and how that relates to the pursuit of happiness in various forms; the difference between Postpartum Depression, Regular Depression, and A Normal Response to Normal New Mom Stress; why do I spend so much time feeling like a loser and a failure and this can’t possibly be normal and if it is how do other people deal with it?
But it’s hard to write about. I start blog posts but then run out of time and steam, and by the time I get back to them the words feel old and hollow. And then I sit around moping about feeling alone in my struggle to blend motherhood and writing/art/everything else, but then I am part of the problem by not sharing my story. But I feel like I want to do it “right,” and it’s just so hard. Much easier plunk through some fiction, or a blog post that is mostly about writing progress.