Today, my granddaughter Camille is sleeping in the living room while I write in the dining room. She is ten months old. I have apples baking while I work, a late breakfast for Camille. Her mother, a charter school paraprofessional, is at work. Her father, an artist with an erratic schedule, and my son, is at a business meeting. My own daughter, Abby, is 17 and is on spring break. This time of the morning - 8:45 a.m. - is a time she is unlikely to see until school resumes in a week and a half.
This is my usual writing time. I used to guard this time with everything I had and then feel pressured because I knew my time to work was finite. I would be so focused on the idea that I only had, say, two hours until I had to go do something else that I couldn't relax enough to make anything that wasn't stilted. And it was hard to go back and revise later. But, gradually, I've shifted how I blend my writing time with other time, how family fits into everything. That shift goes against a lot of popular thought on how to blend writing with family life.
I now say, "How can I make this all work?" more often than, "No, that's my writing time and no one else gets in on it." I feel better and work better this way. My creative process isn't linear and it isn't neat and it doesn't respond well to tightly structured time. That's not to say that I don't honor deadlines or block off time to work; I do. But I've softened how rigid my boundaries are and I think my blood pressure dropped as a result. Certainly, my writing flows differently. Maybe this comes from a sense of being more present in the world, or from going through The Artist's Way a third time with less inclination to do it exactly as Julia Cameron suggests so that I can zero in on what works specifically for me instead. Maybe it comes from being older and bumping into that realization that art and life blend together everywhere in a space and time that will not come around again.
I know I'm getting clearer about the need to make everything work together versus the idea that my life is sectioned off. It's all one life. All one messy, glorious process that encompasses kids and lovers and dogs and work.
And coffee. I'm going to pour another cup and enjoy the aroma of those apples that are still baking.