Hyper Productivity, Sleep-deprivation, Shit parenting, and Sex!

We had one of those hell-parenting nights last night.

I sleep like a boulder, and Fella sleeps like a feather.  Child gets nose bleeds in the winter, and every year I talk myself into believing that this’ll be the year we’ll make it through without the humidifier.

I am always wrong.

But at 3 this morning, when Child had a nosebleed, she wandered into our room, and poked me for at least 45 seconds before getting bored or exasperated and giving up, laying down on the floor next to our bed–god bless her–and waiting.  For somebody to acknowledge her nose bleed.

I didn’t put that together until dinner, when Fella gave me the run down of our interrupted sleep.

What I remember hearing is, “Child, why are you in our room?”  This from Fella, who asked in his rarely disoriented by sleep voice.

“I wanted to tell mommy I have a nosebleed.”

I had an argument with myself in my not-sleeping-sleep brain about whether she said she wanted to tell me about her nosebleed or that she loves me.  She is always traveling from one end of the house to the other to tell me she loves me.  It is her procrastination/avoidance tactic.

Still, I could not rouse myself from my sleep coma.  In my brain, I knew what to do.  But my body would not cooperate.  I sometimes also have this problem when I need to pee in the night.  I estimate that it takes me an hour to make my body move with my brain’s commands.

At one point, Child was in the bed with me.  I did eventually get up, but I don’t remember if I did anything for my kid.  Fella asked me if I had my phone.  It was confusing and surreal.

But today–even though the amazing traffic to the Blue Lit blog, this blog, and my email inbox has kept pace with yesterday–I have had difficulty maintaining my energy and focus.

I should have proofread at least 100 pages today.  I did 40.

I was as distractable as a mosquito.

I was productive, but on a rapid succession of small projects, not with the focus and intensity with which I am happier.

But I met a new writer.

And I made this happen.

And I read stuff my friends wrote.

And stuff my fellow community volunteers wrote for the Williamsport Guardian which I am assistant editing in case our regular editor has to run away to her snow-covered hill and be a ski matriarch.

And I did one of my Zumba DVDs.

Now, as the day is nearly over, and I realized with panic that I’ve forgotten the awesome post idea I had early today, I’m jabbering on about being a crappy mom and a sidetracked social entrepreneur.

But maybe you will feel heartened by my disorientation, simpatico with a fellow over-extended, self-employed parent, or just an ambitious, writerly person.

Thanks everybody, for following, for visiting, and for your overwhelmingly positive response to and support of the Blue Lit project, this blog, and the literary community.

And oh yeah.  Sex in the title?  That was bait.  Worked, didn’t it?

A Blog About Blogging

I love blogging.

Let me rephrase:  I love the idea of blogging.  The idea of blogging keeps me awake, thinking.  I am always writing blogs in my head while I watch TV, observe Pearl playing, do my work, and print business card magnet promo materials for my First Friday workshop launch.

Trouble is, the best blogs I think  up require some research and linking and time.  And usually, when I have deemed the time to be appropriate for blogging, I’m bleary-eyed and out of time and just want to go dream up some more blogs while being inert.

I was thinking about birth order and sharing when I thought about my relationship and about the way Pearl plays with a little girl who’s the oldest in her family.  How Brad’s stuff is sacred, but what’s mine is his.  Not 100% true, but sort of.  Anyhow.  Google Scholar being like Jstor for those of us without university library hookups, I was gonna’ go refresh my memory on that birth order stuff and draw all these correlatives, and creepily compare my love relationship with my daughter’s play friend relationship.

Who has the time to do research?  I will.  But I don’t now.

The other blog I thought up is RIPTP for Rest in Peace Twin Peaks. The show jumped the shark in the most nameable moment since the term was coined in the last episode of the first season, and then it became comedy of the absurd.  And I had this great idea for painting a picture about how they had this series of dice like you can buy in the sex toy store, where one side of one says lick, and one side of the other says pussy.  Except they had a die for character names, and a die for settings, and a die for props and a die for verbs.  Man, that would be a good blog.

But I won’t have time for thorough blogging until any of the following occur:

1 (most desirably):  I complete a draft of a novel or a collection of essays and short stories that I sell for a scandalous sum to some publisher who’s figured out the magic formula for making money off eBooks to fund paper books, and printing fewer copies, and marketing books in some perfect and fresh way that guarantees authors the cash flow they deserve.  It can be done.  I just don’t know how.  When this happens, I will be able to commit myself to writing more.  And reading and doing research and being the word nut I want to commit my life to being.

2 (only slightly less desirably, but still would be tops): I garner a following of students who recommend my writing workshops all around town, then all around the state, then all around the region, then country, and you get it.  My workshops are going to be awesome, but there are far more mitigating factors here than there are in the situation in which I write a book.

3 (significantly less desirably and monumentously less probably): Somebody decides to pay me for being awesome.

So fans and friends and internet strangers, writing what I want to write is kind of like buying the house I want to buy: I have to work with what I can afford, and what I can afford and what I want are almost never the same thing.

On the Compulsion to Write

After my little temper tantrum, which you can read here, and a conversation I had with my sister about artists and art after I told her about this dream, and a brief email exchange with Julianna Baggott, I’ve been thinking about the compulsory need to create.

I need to write.  If I added up all the hours of my life I have spent writing stories, in journals, emails, blogs, angry letters, love letters, songs, on napkins, on placemats, on the stuff we wrote our one-liners on before we tweeted them, I have probably been engaged in writing for at least a third of my cumulative waking hours.

No big deal right?  But think about it:  If I’m awake from about 7 in the morning until about 11 at night, that’s 16 hours of wakefulness, of which a third is 5ish hours, every single day as long as I knew what to do with a pen?  Man.  I do a lot of writing.  And now, as a self-employed editor, I do a lot of thinking about writing.  Which is a different task entirely.    And as a working writer, I do a lot of writing what other people pay me to write, which is always a satisfying stretch.

And I quit all of it feeling answered and soul quenched.  I get a little chest-welling buzz every time I finish editing a manuscript.  I get this thrill of neurotic fear that I’m utter shit every time I finish writing anything.  Doing all this words stuff is better to me than chemical highs.  I’ve joked that I write because I can’t afford therapy.  I bet if you searched that phrase, it’s somewhere else in this blog.  It’s a very Woody Allen thing to say.  I bet Woody Allen is a compulsive writer.

I would rather write than sleep most of the time.  I sleep anyway.  I’m one of those people who sleeps like she means it.  But I get woken up by ideas for stories, essays, ways to improve current stories and essays I’m working on, ways to improve my clients’ work.  I don’t get woken up by fire alarms or my kid.  I sleep through or just shuffle her into bed with me, and when I wake up all sweaty and smooshed between two bodies, I’ll have no memory of the second bedfellow’s arrival.

I feel telepathic when I’m editing, because I can see the writer’s choices, and whenever I don’t know I can guess, somewhat accurately, about the shape of the story prior to revision.

I can’t help it.

I wrote this essay that I’m trying to sell to some publication bigger than the Sun-Gazette (no offense Williamsport, love ya, mwah), and in it I talk about these last 5ish years, starting around when Pearl turned 1 and going until May 2011, how I felt vacant and unfamilliar because besides emails and internet dating profiles and facebook status updates and very sporadic blog posts, I didn’t write much.  I mean there was a stray poem, and I started about 800 stories, but I didn’t make time to write every day.

And oh man I am super excited about these writing workshops I’m starting in September.  The thing that really inspired me to do them was when I went to this writer’s group in my home-home town, and I just felt so comfortable.  So enlivened looking at other people’s work: Analyzing the writing and psychoanalyzing the writer.  More publicly the former than the latter, but sometimes it’s illuminating when someone asks you, “what are you afraid of writing here?”

There’s a lot of fear in writing.  Maybe not for all writers, but for me.  It is a rather constant battle between myself and my inner editor/naysayer.  Anne Lamott talks eloquently about this in her book Operating Instructions.  It’s a beautiful book.  Natalie Goldberg writes elegant prose about it that has a lot less fear, or maybe it’s just about overcoming the fear.  But she always lives in my head for a few months after I read her book, Writing Down the Bones.  She is a healthy influence.

And for me, the compulsion to write is wrapped up in the compulsion to read.  I have not returned to reading with the same vigor as I have returned to writing, but my Must Read pile has grown, as has my zest for tackling it.  Once the child returns to school, I expect that I, too, will return to reading.  And that is exciting too.  I love the company of good, narrative voices.  I unintentionally mimick the writer I’m reading.  I enjoy what it brings out in my writing when I inhabit someone else’s voice.