Twenty-Eight Minutes: Making Myself Right
Written by
Cori Howard
December 2011
Written by
Cori Howard
December 2011

This story is part of a series on Writing and Permission that was commissioned by Cori Howard, the instructor of the SheWrites online class, Writing for Moms. The topic evolved in one of her online forums in which women started to discuss how hard it was to give themselves permission to write and to be writers. These are the stories they came up with. 

by Sue Urie

I’ve got about twenty, maybe twenty-five minutes of uninterrupted minutes to write. My five-year-old boy is behind me at the second desk in the office, drawing pictures with his felts and crayons, peeling and placing stickers, sniffling away the last of a cold.

His 19-month-old sister is upstairs fighting the nap I so need her to take. She, like her brother, is riddled with that never ending snotfest that is the end of most colds I’ve seen. She has been fed, nursed and entertained and I am at the end of my mothering rope right now. I need her to sleep.   I need her to stop climbing on me for just a few moments. I need time to sit and think about something other than who is hungry, who needs their nose blown, their bum wiped, their hands or face cleaned up.

My husband is at work and calls just as I come down the stairs from putting his daughter in her crib. Outside the wind and the rain swirl and gust, splatter the windows and skylights with November rain sending trees and branches across hydro lines as they do every year at this time.

“Did the power come back on?” he asks. The sound of his workplace is in the background, the hustle and work-speak putting an ache in my intellectual head. 

“Yes….just came back up,” I answer into the phone while firing up my computer.  “I’m hoping to get some writing done, now that I’ve finally got a minute…..”

“No problem. I won’t bug  you,” he says. “Just wanted to make sure you guys were okay and had lots of firewood.”

And with that he wishes me luck and hangs up, leaving me with a blank screen, a happily coloring five year old and our wee girl upstairs fighting the break I need her to give me.

“Please go to sleep,” I say so quietly my little boy doesn’t even hear.

The stage, though far from perfect, is set for me to write. There’s nothing to stop me except for my daughter’s fading cries and my wee son’s sniffling and scratching. Surely I can tune it all out and write. But I can’t. I stop mid-first sentence to help him blow his nose.  I try again after putting the soiled tissue in the woodstove returning my hands to the keyboard for just a second, never even getting close to a paragraph, before realizing my daughter is still crying, nowhere near falling asleep, her cries switching from a fading whimper to cries of ‘ Ma-maaaaaa!!”

My fingers, badly in need of a decent manicure, dried and cracked from washing and wiping, hover for one more second and miraculously begin typing.

And this is it: the story of 28 minutes.

What can you write in 28 minutes?

The next session of SheWrites Online Writing for Moms starts in January. Click here for more registration and more details. Or email [email protected] 

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  • Kathy Moores

    Sue, I love it!  I know those moments so well, desperately needing time to get work done and never really having any that's uninterrupted.  Great post!