Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I don't want 15 minutes of fame. I just want 15 minutes.

This week I am participating in a writer's workshop. I have never attended one before and this is all new to me. I didn't know what to expect, and I am going to share the experience here both to provide a record for myself and perhaps to encourage others to consider taking their writing to a workshop as well. I don't know if this would fall under professional development or not - but I am enjoying the process thusfar.

In the workshop, we have reading assignments, selections from published works in addition to reading pages submitted by our fellow attendees. We will be providing feedback within specific parameters (3 things you like three things you think should be developed further) and also following writing prompts to help us explore the creative process.

The first assignment was: write for 15 minutes about where your writing comes from.

This is what I came up with.

Where Does Your Writing Come From? A fifteen minute writing exercise.

We had a foster baby placed with us yesterday. These things happen very unexpectedly, and you can almost count on a foster placement sticking a rod in the spokes of your carefully balanced life cycle.

A 2 day old infant in the throes of withdrawal adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the whole scenario.

I have been awake for 36 hours, trying to prepare for, feed, and support this very small person, who has begun life in such an inauspicious manner, taken from his mother and his narcotic in one fell swoop as he was. Yesterday was spent lying on the sofa in sweatpants trying to get a handle on the situation. Today I had to get some shit done. Simple as that. Baby or no, it is the first day of the kids' winter vacation, the day before a writers conference, and 6 days before Christmas.

I spent this morning rushing around buying last minute gifts, getting them in the mail, driving 30 minutes to the bank to make a deposit - and back home again. Feeding the kids, changing diapers, convincing the baby to eat, fielding texts and phone calls, cleaning the house, wrapping more gifts, writing work emails, printing out phone lists, making phonecalls, setting up childcare and drivers and doctors appointments for the week, changing more diapers, and then, FINALLY, at 4:30, I sat down to spend 15 minutes answering this question before the workshop. The kids were watching a movie. The baby was asleep. The husband would be home in an hour. I could do this.

As soon as I opened a blank document the kids walked in this room, sat down next to me, and began a raucous game of Uno.

Considering that I cannot so much as turn on the dryer without getting complaints about the noise and the disturbance said noise is causing to their delicate senses, the fact that they came in and sat down right next to me and dialed the volume up to a 12 led to some strongly worded suggestions that they relocate.

After two peanut butter and jellies and 15 minutes - MY FIFTEEN MINUTES - they decamped to another room, and I settled down to write. And then the phone rang And then the baby cried. And now my husband will be home in fifteen minutes. This is all I've got.

Fifteen minutes.

My writing comes from a desperate attempt to claim my fifteen minutes.

MY fifteen minutes. Mine. Not yours.

my FIFTEEN minutes. I think I deserve fifteen of them to myself.

my fifteen MINUTES. Jesus H. Christ, we're talking minutes here - not hours. Is that so much to ask?

I didn't go to college. No money - I was on my own. No time - I was trying to hustle for the money. No support - have I mentioned I was on my own?

Now I am decidedly not on my own. In fact, the very last person I have time to worry about is myself. Mostly, I like it that way. It keeps me from remembering that in the pursuit of a life worth living, I have given up a lot of myself. No degree, no career, no long-term plan other than paying off the mortgage before I die.

In my attempts to write so much as a resume, I am stymied. My experiences make for excellent stories, but not much in the way of professional development. And so I write. I write about the life I live. The life I aspire to. The life I didn't get to experience. The life I experienced and then put away because - at the time - it was better to do so. And the life that I am too busy to appreciate in the moment.

I am claiming my fifteen minutes. Make your own fucking sandwich.