Needless to say, this has not happened for either me or Tim. The reading, or, not reading thing. And I know many parents who still manage to read (though I do admit, I live in a world of readers that may not be representative of the average world-dweller). This afternoon, Beckett surprised me by napping for an hour and a half and I got to start and finish an essay by Jonathan Franzen in his collection of essays titled How to be Alone. The essay is "Why Bother?" and I'd link you to it but it's only available in the book. Also, it's pretty long, so I doubt you'd read it right here and now. As you can surmise by the title and the author, it deals with the question of why we bother to write, and, by some extension, live at all. Which, he argues, is sort of the reason writers write novels--to grapple with that big question, or subsets of that big question (this is a gross over-simplification of this essay). It also the reason that writers are apt to succumb to varying types of depression.
If we are to write about the world, we have to be removed enough to see it clearly. Which does two things: once, encourages us to look at a flawed, unfair, heart-breaking, angering reality. This urges us to look to the past for a better time and pretend it was better, then eventually admit that is was still all of these things. And then we look for the redeeming aspects to life and we ask ourselves if these outweigh the bad. The second thing this does is seclude is because we do all of this alone and the process of doing so pushes us further away from a world full of people who are actually busy living their lives in this world we are analyzing. So we look at these people--strangers, friends, family--and if we're lucky and feeling empathetic, we can write a story. It the muse is not on our shoulder, then we let ourselves spiral about "the state of affairs." If the former happens, for me at least, it normally satisfies that part of me that is more concerned with thinking about living as opposed to doing it. Maybe this is where my compulsion to write comes from. And most writers I know (I do not mean published or successful writers, per se, but simply people who write) would agree that writing is a compulsion, not a hobby.
One prediction that has partially come true is that I won't have time to write anymore. I have finished a few short pieces, but I need to "go somewhere" to really write. I have to go to that place I described in the last paragraph, and although the trip there is not rough, it's actually more like a well-waxed metal slide, getting out of there is a hard climb. But I need to, otherwise, I get stuck at the bottom, kicking my feet in the playground sawdust.
That's part of the reason I started this blog, so I would have some sort of external motivation to put virtual pen to virtual paper. And it's not quite enough to get me out of that place, but, the other thing that works is reading. Which is maybe why I'm reading so much: a constant stream will curve my need to "go somewhere" and write. Tim and I are reading MaddAddam, the third installment of a Margaret Atwood trilogy. We're reading it out-loud, which is perhaps the most romantic thing I've ever done with another human being.
But Tim also reads his poetry, and since we have jobs where we speak a good chunk of the day, we have limited vocal power. So, today after work I went to the library and picked up the books for these two new movies:
Hopefully these books will stave off my need to thrown my self down that slide and write something more than 5 pages.