Progress Report

The blog is not going as planned.

It wasn’t, almost right from the start. The plan was for an hour of meditation at the keyboard. Every morning. Type, Publish, End of Story. Literally.

Maybe I started the blog when I did in part because last week I found Diane Ackerman’s well-worn A Natural History of the Senses  in a box of baby clothes I was trying to organize (hand-down, goodwill, save until I’m at least seventy, for possible grandchildren), and never one to not procrastinate when the opportunity presents itself, I flipped open the book and read again of how some famous writers through the ages each had a routine they performed before writing every day. Notable examples Ackerman sites includes George Sands, who copulated wildly before moving directly to her writing table. Colette began each day by picking fleas off her cat. Ackerman herself power-walks every day. She emphasized that: every day. I hadn’t thought I’d noticed it at the time. But maybe the idea behind the blog was: This will be the grounding routine I perform before Mommying every day. At least it does not involve fleas.

The every day thing has happened. What I hadn’t counted on was that I don’t stop thinking about it, not really. Everything that occurs during the day is possible fodder for the blog. Like it’s a monster I need to feed. In a way, it is. And isn’t that what I wanted, really, when I began? Something to make me pay attention to the small things, in the hope of getting something back? Dredging the mud for clams. (We’re reading One Morning in Maine. When I grow up, I want to be Robert McCloskey. I want to be Sal.)

I didn’t want or need a monster. I wanted something small and low-maintenance that does not need to be walked much, a turtle or a goldfish. Something that absorbs my anxieties like factis absorbs graphite. A stress eraser. Like my antique (and flea-free) cat. Something whose company I can enjoy easily, something I can pet and it will purr. The accompanying litterbox I can deal with—its contents are the smallest poops in my life right now. (*”Poops” used literally; beside diapers and Superhero underpants, a few kitty nuggets are nothing.)

But those of you who’ve read a post or two will notice that either I am an efficient writer, or that I am a liar, about conjuring whole posts between five and six a.m. A kind soul might just figure I am being loose in my interpretation of when exactly five to six is or how long it lasts. But the world of nonfiction does not currently embrace loose interpretations unless otherwise stated. So here is my otherwise statement:

My goal is to write from five to six every morning. It’s a noble goal, like not using my cell phone while driving, and world peace. But an adaptation has proven necessary, one that takes actual reality into consideration. Yesterday, for example, I was on field triage all morning, always one and a half steps behind. (Prevention is so much easier, but so far, cages that hang from the ceiling have not yet been approved for children.*) This is why Robert McCloskey did not write One Morning in Arizona. Here is a synopsis of that nonCaldecott winner: out on the patio, Mbot picked up what might be a (poisonous) spider; Gbot toppled off his globe (note to globe owners: do not stand on globe) while I checked the spider (not poisonous—not even a spider, but some part of a blossom that looked uncannily spider-like, even to the point of wiggling in the breeze). I raced to comfort Gbot, Mbot raced to the bathroom, but not quite fast enough. I raced back to the patio to make sure Tesserwell hadn’t escaped through the door left open in the event of an emergency; meanwhile, Mbot decided to wipe himself midpoop and climb off the toilet. I found Tesserwell under a table but by then, Gbot was inspecting the toilet seat. A bath was drawn. A bath is more fun than a cage hanging from the ceiling, and it’s legal.

After nine hours of consciousness, the Midgets fell prey to their own diabolical energy, and lay comatose with their respective bears. And instead of preparing dinner, I fell into a chair to write. Because I had to post my blog. The Midgets slept on. I did not wake them. At 5:15 I hit “Publish,” and left a message on my sister’s phone. “I’ve blogged five days in a row! Can you believe it? We won’t be having dinner tonight, but I posted a thousand words!” (I had wanted to post 500 words, but editing is hell.)

Needless to say, this scenario is not conducive to the calm that is still a chief goal. It makes me feel more like an addict than a controlled user. But it is making me write. And it has been fun. And I tell you, after six weeks spent drafting query letters, manuscript synopses, and pretend flap copy, I just want to enjoy writing again.

I scrounged up a dinner that did not involve preservatives or artificial flavors. Everyone actually ate it. Full stomachs all round? Check. A little introspection? Check.

It’s a start.

Do you control your passions, or do they control you?

*Disclaimer: The author of this blog does not in any way condone or suggest the use of such cages.