I've recently begun reading a writing book. (Which, by the way, amuses Seth to no end - "who would write a book about writing a book?" Hilarious to him, especially after I showed him the entire section of my bookcase dedicated to writing - handbooks, theory, manuals, textbooks) Anyway, the book is full of writing exercises, and it says that I need to write every single day, rain or shine. Spiffy - one more thing I'm not doing well enough! More than that, I need to set aside a half hour of completely uninterrupted writing time when everything is focused, quiet, and there are no distractions. Nothing is to interrupt, nothing to delay or pre-empt writing time. I have one instant thought - this guy doesn't have little kids!!! Even 2AM is often prone to nightmares needing comfort, potty-breaks, and crying babies. The book's conclusion is that if I can't dedicate myself to that half hour a day, I must not love writing enough and I'd better give up wanting to write.
To a certain extent, I agree with this. True loves are absolutely necessary to life. No matter how crazy life with my kids gets, for example, I can't imagine a day in which I don't read at least a few pages of a book. Reading is like breathing. I've been know to read while nursing a baby, while waiting in pick-up line at school, or the ever-resorted to retreat of greatest desperation - reading in the bathroom! It is as necessary as breathing or eating. Life isn't even life without reading - the newspaper, novels, parenting books, religious books, backs of cereal boxes, e-mail, blogs, everything I can possibly get my hands on!
So, if I don't feel that way about writing, am I never destined to write even though I enjoy it? Always to consume, never to create? As I have twice been interrupted while writing this, once to change a diaper and again to get a toddler a drink, the uber-focused writing time obviously doesn't work for me. Yet I feel that my true love right now is the cause of the distraction - not what I'm being distracted from! As long as these little ones are needy and engaging, everything takes a back seat to them. And, oddly enough for my family, with a genetic knack for feeling guilt about just about everything, I don't feel one bit bad about prioritizing my loves that way.
And, frankly, I don't believe there is a conflict. When my husband and I were married, the officiator told us that "Love never divides, it multiplies." Though he was referring to in-laws and our suddenly expanded circle of family, it applies here as well. If I love my kids so much that I'll put down a book or stop writing mid-sentence, that absolutely does not mean that I should never pick the book back up or finish the sentence. Practically, it's just silly to think that love and dedication to one thing must necessarily exclude love and dedication to another. Love doesn't divide - it multiplies. My recent hunger to create through writing has actually been inspired by my kids and the flights of fancy and imagination they encourage like no adult ever would. Evidence of the multiplication principle - one love expands another. And sharing literature with the kids, from picture books and poetry, to increasingly difficult books as they get older, has re-connected me with the simple beauty, joy, and delight of reading.
But still - regardless of my theories about the "half hour of un-interrupted writing every day" I'm accepting the challenge to write more. With the upcoming move to a new house, the end of the school year, kids' birthdays, and all sorts of other distractions, it should be interesting how long I can keep the challenge going. We'll see.