Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Juggling priorities

Ask any author with a family and I'll bet "huge swaths of uninterrupted writing time" will be at the top of his/her wish list. It's a luxury we dream of the way others dream of shopping until they drop. I know it won't be like this forever, but these days I have more stops and starts than I care to count. Here's a sample of this week's juggling act:

Front door slams and I hear someone howling in the distance. My oldest runs down to my desk, attempting to look casual. "Uh, Mom? How do you know if someone broke their arm or if it's just, like, sprained?"

My youngest phoning from school to say, "I found my field trip form in my locker but it's due today so if you don't come to the school and sign it the teacher says I can't go."

And let's not forget these:

"That wasn't a gunshot, it was Dad, backing over my basketball."
"Mom? Will grape juice leave a permanent stain if it's spilled on a rug?"
"There's a lady at the door who wants money for blind people."
"Can you help me study for my exams?"

Then, late last night when I was working on chapter 16, having success with a dialogue piece I'd previously had trouble with, my youngest came downstairs and curled up in the armchair across from my desk. He was having trouble sleeping, a by-product of Tourette Syndrome. "Mom, have you got a minute?" he asked.

We talked for an hour - about things he's been worried about, about dreams he's never shared with me before - and when he finally went to bed, I turned off my computer and called it a night, thinking, You will never pass this way again. The rest can wait.