Thursday, July 29, 2010

Silence and Sanity

The kids are at "school camp" this week, and yesterday they ate lunch at camp so I had a full 3.5 hours to work in the beautiful silence of my house.  This time was particularly fortunate because I have a deadline on Saturday.  Unfortunately, the writing is not going well.  I'm resisting revision, tired of reading additional literature that is required to meet the editorial demands put upon me, and I'm stumped by how I will rework what I already think is a well-crafted piece to make the editors happy.

I realize that part of my problem is the internal pressure I put upon myself to "wow" the audience, to please the editors, and to make my writing the best it can be before anyone else sees it.  This self-knowledge, however, did not help me yesterday as I faced my computer screen and tried, once again, to finish this project.

With my head hurting, I decided to take a break before I even started.  The DVR has been collecting shows for me for the last two weeks so I selected one of the guilty pleasures and settled in on the couch.  I noted the daylight streaming through the windows and marveled at the idea of watching one of my shows, as compared to, say, Word World or Thomas the Tank, during the day.  When I get the chance to sit in front of the TV - IF I get the chance - it's always well after the kids have gone to bed.  It felt odd yesterday to be sitting in the sunlight watching my TV.  It felt good.

So I allowed myself the 40 minutes (gotta love fast fowarding through commercials) to watch the show and to have a snack, and then I went back to my computer.  I stared at the article on the screen.  My head hurt again.  I decided to take a nap.

I lay down on my bed and cuddled into my pillow, willing the headache to dissipate, feeling guilty about thinking about taking a nap during these precious quiet hours.  I rolled off the bed and willed my feet to move me back to my computer.  An hour later I had uncovered additional research to help me frame my argument.  I had started reading it.  I had taken notes.  And then the kids came in the door from camp, breaking the silent reverie.

Of course, I had to play with them, talk to them about their morning at camp, and procrastinate my work even longer. I continued with my research while the kids took their nap, quiet restored to the house. I found the perfect article to help me revise my piece and meet my editors' demands, and I tried to read it until the headache pierced my left eye.  I used my daughter, who has been waking from her nap with difficulty, as an excuse, and I crawled into her bed with the intention of taking a half an hour to lull her out of sleep.  I spent 20 minutes of the time in dreamland beside her.

Understanding that I needed the quiet to work, my sitter took the kids to the park after nap.  The house was silent.  I had ample time to finish reading the article, and the headache had dissipated some from my catnap.  I sat on the couch, highlighter in hand, article spread across my lap.  And then I looked up at the TV with the sunlight streaming through the window above, and I couldn't resist the remote.

I spent the rest of the quiet time indulging my sanity and watching trash television, and it was just the therapy I needed.  I figure that I write better under pressure anyway.