I’m sitting at a cafe on Main Street. I came here to write. Instead, I’ve spent the last hour eating a bacon cheeseburger, adding facebook friends and cruising preschool sites.
Okay, I also started a blog. Not because I wanted to, but because my friend Carolynn made me. She said it was painless and it would get me writing again. I thought it sounded more like a good way to avoid writing, which it was, until I actually started writing. Only this isn’t what I’m supposed to be writing. I’m supposed to be writing a book proposal, for my next novel. Should be a breeze, but every time I sit down to start working on it, I wind up chewing my fingernails and reading threads on peachhead about the scary guy hanging around the Playa Del Rey playground or whether homeschooling is a viable alternative to preschool. And looking through pictures of my baby in iPhoto and wishing I was at home telling him how cute he is.
So, why did I decide to start a blog when I should be writing draft 2 of the screenplay I’m contracted to write for MGM? Because Carolynn said it was writing without the pressure, that eventually it would lead to actual writing writing, that all I needed to make this kind of writing (blog kind of writing) happen was my voice, my truth, the willingness to write c-r-a-p on a regular basis. Sounds good to me. Hell, I’ve written 208 words so far, which is a hell of a lot better than my normal afternoon activities, which include reading other people’s words on gawker, checking and rechecking my email and dancing around the living room to songs about chocolate chip monkeys with my 11-month-old son Aidan.
We’ve reached the heart of the matter. I have a baby and he consumes every second of my waking life. When I’m not gazing into his big brown eyes and singing to him about how he’s the cutest boy in the whole wide world or chasing him around the kitchen island saying, “I’m gonna getcha, I’m gonna getcha” or feeding him sweet potatoes or apple sauce or goat cheese and red pepper puree, when I’m not changing his diaper or helping him crawl up the slide at the playground or fishing a eucalyptus leaf out of his mouth with my finger, then he’s probably asleep and I’m probably napping to the lulling strains of Renee and Jeremy‘s “It’s a big world baby, and you’re little for a little while…” or lying comatose on the couch wishing I had the energy to write something, but knowing that I have mushy mommy brain and should probably take a nap or wash the dishes or puree some more zucchini. Cause god knows I don’t have it in me to write. And next thing I know, my angel is crying over the monitor and I have to run to him. And when I see that sweet, heart-shaped little face over the edge of the crib, tears halted by my presence, bouncing, bouncing, bouncing, his grin showing off five little teeth and the sweetest pointy chin, I am amazed as always by his beauty and the immensity of my love for him, every single time I see him. He puts his arms up in the air and I wrap him in mine and lift him out of the crib and he gurgles and I open the blinds and let the sunshine in, which never ceases to delight him, and I gasp at the impossible sweetness of his delight and wonder and I kiss him again and again and squeeze him and tell him one more time how much I love him.
I love this boy more than I ever could imagine loving anything. And I never for a minute resent him for taking my time. There is nothing I’d rather do than spend every minute of my day with him. And yet, in Life Before Aidan, I didn’t have just any job. I was a writer. I loved my work so much I would do it for free. In fact, very often I did do it for free! I loved writing and I loved being a writer. I loved brainstorming with friends or with my husband, Harlan, about the books and screenplays and articles I was working on. I loved aching to write and wishing I could write and procrastinating for hours so that I could get one really good paragraph down on the page. I loved walking around New York City hearing bits of my book playing through my head and rushing home to write them down and being one of the lucky few who truly love what they do with their lives. Earning a living as a writer in New York City—what could be better than that? And then I moved to LA with a book about to hit the shelves and almost immediately got an assignment to write a horror movie and I dove into the research: watching horror movies and brainstorming with Harlan and reading books upon books about reincarnation and story structure and then sitting in a cafe day after day putting scenes down on the page.
I miss that part of my life. I genuinely do. Even if I could afford to never work again, I would want to write another book and I’d be psyched to come up with another clever plot twist for the screenplay. So while I don’t blame a lot of my mommy friends for giving up their jobs to be full-time moms—I totally get that choice—I can’t do it. I love writing too much. It’s a part of my identity that I cherish and I’m not ready to give it up.
And while this might not be the best thing I’ve ever written, maybe, just maybe I’m teaching myself how to write again. And maybe if I do this for a few more hours, a few more days, my book proposal will pour out of my fingertips. If not, at least I have a forum for describing Aidan’s daily cutenesses and my own myriad anxieties. And that will feel awesome.