I'm Not Dead Yet (and Neither is the Blog)
So, one thing I'm discovering in The Year+ Orientation to Having Three Children is that, surprise, you have to super-duper plan and prioritize. Priorities go something like this:
- Are the children dressed?
- Am I dressed?
- Does anyone smell or show visible signs of yesterday's sandwiches/spaghetti dinner/backyard dirt pile debacle?
- Will any of the speaking children complain audibly about not being fed?
The bar is lower than it's ever been before, people. This is probably not a surprise to anyone with half a brain, but you should remember that through the course of giving birth to the aforementioned three children, I've lost an incredible amount of brain power. I believe it was A.P. who pointed out that -- three years after having The Boy -- I was just beginning to regain myself, to become more clear, and more on-point with both my writing and thinking, and then BAM! I was knocked up again. So don't really expect anything much from me until 2017, and even then, you should probably keep your expectations low. I mean, it's not like I was a walking brain-trust before A. and I started populating the earth with our questionable DNA.
Anyway, so posting to my blog has been fairly low on my list of priorities, even though it's something I enjoy and that I feel is somewhat useful to my writing process (not to mention maintaining my sanity).
The past year has been very much about Doing What I Have to Do and Only What I Have to Do (with one or two exceptions thrown in). I haven't seen friends, emailed friends, read very much, written very much, exercised, cleaned my home (other than that surface cleaning necessary to keep occasional visitors from calling CPS), or slept for any great length of time.
This isn't actually a complaint, though. It's simply a catalog of things that had to take a backseat to Vampire Toddler's Demands, Both Real and Conjured by Whim. She's has a personality much like Little Miss Talkalot's personality -- they both came out of the womb knowing what they wanted and demanding the world give it to them. I admire this -- but it tends to be a bit time-consuming meeting those demands. I absolutely loathe the phrase "it is what it is" (fatalism for morons) but that sentiment describes the attitude necessary to surviving The Year+ Orientation to Having Three Children.
I knew what I was getting myself into when I became pregnant, and I'm not going to magically change how difficult this balancing act continues to be, no matter how many parenting or organize-your-life web sites I read or this-is-how-I-do-it threads I lurk over on Facebook. It's just chaos -- pure and utter chaos, alternately and sometimes simultaneously frightening and funny. There's a lot of joy -- and sure, a lot of tears, and most of them aren't the baby's -- but that joy is derived from this very concentrated part of my life right now, and not from many of the other parts of my life that usually bring me joy. It has to be this way, and it won't always be this way, and so I should -- I will -- ride this out until there's a shift.
There's already been a shift, too. Vampire Baby finally sleeps, more or less, through the night (teething will throw everything off, but in between teeth she's on a fairly regular schedule). Since May and the end of the school semester, I've been able to go for a run or walk at least once a week, if not two. (Hey, it's not gonna get me in any kind of shape very quickly, but it sure is a relief to be moving again.) I taught a summer class for the month of June, and now that it's over, I'm able to write.
AND I'm taking part in the Southampton Writers Conference again, which is part indulgence, part requirement-for-promotion (Stuffolk requires I earn a slew of graduate credits over and above my MFA -- because, you know, it's a terminal degree AND THEY ARE SO RESPECTFUL OF THAT.) Since last Wednesday, I've been participating in a Theater Residency -- which is both terrifying and exhilarating and incredibly useful in terms of finally, FINALLY making progress with my play.
In the few minutes, and sometimes hours, I could steal to write this spring, I managed to finally draft the first four scenes of the first act in my verse play. It's taken -- oh my god -- SEVEN years to finally get to this point. I have stopped and started with numerous drafts. They have all totally sucked. I think the pressure of the deadline, combined with what I've been studying and learning over the years, made it all finally click. And I know that four scenes sound next to nothing at all -- paltry, right? -- but believe me, having 17 pages of ANYTHING after having so very little for so long makes me feel quite, well, pleased.
And it was really . . . moving. . . having actors read my work. I would never admit this out loud to another person's face so I'll write it here: I felt like crying. What was that? I'm not a chick who cries. I don't even cry when I'm the most sad, really. I cry when I'm frustrated (which is the worst time to cry; it's bratty). But that's what I felt initially. And then I told myself -- using the most inappropriate metaphor ever -- to sack up, and the moment passed. But it tells me that I've invested a lot in the idea of this play; that it means a lot to me, to my development as a writer, to see it finally taking shape and taken seriously by other people (even if for just a moment; even if it's just a blip on their own creative radar).
I probably would have been happy with amateur actors, but the program hired professionals, and among them -- playing the principals, thankfully -- there were at least two actors who were comfortable reading and performing iambic pentameter, and so it was also really wonderful (and weird!) to hear other people reading my poetry aloud. And the discussion afterwards, with a director and a professional dramaturge, was helpful and encouraging. I have a clear idea of how I want to revise the first scenes, and where I want the play to go eventually.
I have the rest of the next week to revise those first scenes, and then I give new pages (including the fifth and last scene of the act) to the program, and there will be a new reading at the end of the week. The second reading will be open to members of the conference and the public, which makes me slightly nervous, but less so now that I've been through the process once already.
So that's where I am right now. Lest you think I've given up on the ol'blog at last. No, I'm not retiring it. I'm just forced to wait patiently until I have the time to sit and reflect and then torture you with my neuroses again.