I sometimes dream about what a “real” writer’s life might look like:
He wakes up refreshed and energized after a restful sleep, yawns and stretches with a gleeful smile. What a beautiful day to write! he thinks to himself. A small cartoonish butterfly somehow manages to flutter through the open window and lands on the Perfect Writer’s finger. He smiles as he examines the small creature. “You shall be in my next novel.” he says to the butterfly. The butterfly flutters away, while the Perfect Writer dons his favorite robe and slippers, and glides to the kitchen to grab his morning cup of joe. The birds are busily chirping outside, and the first streams of morning sunlight trickle through the windows of his perfect little writing cottage. Perfect Writer sits down at his expensive mahogany desk, and begins typing away at his 37th novel with just as much gusto as he did with his first novel. He pauses, cocks his head to one side and thinks of the next line, and smiles at his wit and genius, laughs a little to himself and continues typing away at the next flow of thoughts that come easily as they spew out of his genius mind and out of his genius fingers.
This is not my life.
I am a “real” writer. I’m not successful by the world’s standards, of course…I don’t have 37 novels in print, nor do I make very much money, if any, from the prose that I do manage to eek out of my stressed-out, non-genius brain. I don’t have an expensive mahogany desk, I hate mornings, and if I physically saw cartoon butterflies, I’d probably make a doctor’s appointment….STAT.
Here’s how this writer’s life looks:
I wake up in the morning groggy and miserable. I hate mornings. If I could sleep until noon, or later, I would. My sweet husband makes me a cup of coffee, places it on my bedside table and backs away slowly….as if he were making an offering to an angry pagan god. I mumble a not-so-coherent “thank you” – which translates to “Mgghryuh” in true English. I lie in bed for another moment, wondering why the bed is so much more comfortable in the morning, than it is during the night when I’m tossing and turning.
With one eye barely open, I reach over and try to reach the handle of my coffee cup. I end up punching the cup and it blasts against the wall, along with all of the steaming contents that are required in order for my brain to properly function.
“Shit.” I mumble. It’s my first recognizable word of the day.
I sit up in bed, grab my robe and use it as a towel to mop up as much of the coffee as I can. I stumble into the kitchen to make myself another cup, and I am greeted by three children who are so incredibly happy that I am awake, they cannot contain themselves.
“Mom! you’re awake! I need water!” the oldest says.
“Mommy, he hit me! I think he needs a spanking.” the middle child says, pointing at the youngest.
“Mommeee. Eee Aaaye Ask!!! Eee Aaaye Ask!!”
The youngest is only three, and is trying to tell me he wants to watch “P.J. Masks” – a cartoon found on the Disney Jr. Channel.
Without a word, my husband gives me a quick kiss on the forehead, and slips out the door, to the safety of his work van. He gets to go to work, I get to stay home with the children.
I am still not able to speak in a clear form of language at this point, so I hold up one finger (No, not that one…geez…..these are the precious fruits of my womb.) I hold up my “wait a minute” finger, and they take the hint and scatter. I make a fresh cup of coffee and sit down at the dining room table for about 30 seconds. I do not get to enjoy my coffee. First, I must make sure all of the little ones have everything they need. When I finish doing that, my coffee is lukewarm. I guzzle it, and make another.
I attempt to make my way to the computer at least once or twice, but my oldest son has commandeered it so he can play Minecraft. It is the only working computer in the house. My laptop died a few weeks ago, and I am still waiting on a replacement. So, I grab my Kindle Fire and jot down a few notes here and there during the day.
I do dishes, clean floors, kiss boo-boos, read stories, sort laundry and when my husband gets home, we take turns cooking dinner.
At 5:30, it is usually bathtime for the two littles and the oldest boy finally gives up the computer and plays on another electronic device. We eat dinner together, and at 6:30 the two little ones get in bed. We are very strict with the early bedtime thing. It keeps us sane, and gives me time to write so that I’m not up all night writing, when I am dog-tired from tending to little ones all day.
After everyone is bathed, fed and tucked away, I make myself another cup of coffee and sit down to write. It goes like this:
I open up a Word document and type, “The….”
I sit and wait for inspiration.
I take a sip of coffee.
I take another sip of coffee.
I get on Facebook.
Eventually, I will think of something to write and I get started. Sometimes, it takes a while and sometimes nothing happens at all. Where are one of those damned cartoon butterflies? I wonder.
If I can’t think of anything to write, I usually dig out an old manuscript and edit. Or write a blog post. If absolutely NO inspiration comes, I will either get back online and read, or I will climb in bed and watch something completely worthless on my Roku. Sometimes, I’ll grab a book from the bookshelf and read….either a Jane Austen fan fiction novel, or something by Stephen King. There is usually no in-between. Unless I’m in a “Southern Writers only” mood….and I’ll grab something by Zelda Fitzgerald, Harper Lee or Margaret Mitchell. It’s a crapshoot.
So, you see, the writer’s life is not that interesting. We are writers. We write about interesting things that other people do. We are not all alcoholics or ex-pats like Hemingway, or F. Scott Fitzgerald. We are actually quite boring. At least, I am. But I’m not exactly in the same category as those mentioned above. I’m a struggling writer. I’m a newbie. I’m just a wife, mom and southern writer with the intense, burning need to sit at a computer and type everything that flutters through my brain…. IF something flutters around in there at all.
Maybe that’s where that cartoon butterfly lives. Maybe we all have our own cartoon butterflies. Mine just happens to be stuck in a mommy brain full of caffeine, sleep deprivation, and Yo Gabba Gabba songs. He’s probably in there sitting in a tiny recliner, gorging himself on chocolates and reality tv shows…. waiting for the moment when I decide to let him out.
Or it could just be writer’s block.
I’ll let you guys know if he ever comes out.
That is my exciting writer’s life.
If you are a writer, I hope your own cartoon butterfly comes your way soon.
I am patiently waiting for mine.