Friday, August 6, 2010

There Is No Spoon

Writing requires a particular mindset. Much of the work is inside our heads. This requires time and space from other distractions. For me, working from home has always been the biggest distraction. The dishes yell from the sink, the floor whispers a dusty greeting and projects from the yard beat tom-toms. As I embark on the "now or never" writing life it is easier to focus and I believe there are specific reasons that this is the case.

When you’re the mother of six children you develop an ability to tune out a certain amount of chaos in order to focus on the tasks at hand. Unless there is blood or excessive cruelty my rule was to let them learn their own way, tattling would get you nowhere. Screaming and yelling, even crying was subject to a quick screening and dismissed so I could focus on breastfeeding the new baby, cooking the meal or teaching another child to tie his shoe. Since time was limited, I learned to find moments to myself during naps, while waiting in a doctor’s office, even driving to the next activity. We writers are very cerebral so characters were developed, plots were thickened and settings created while tending to daily tasks.

Juggling of priorities requires the practice of “There is No Spoon” Theory. In layman’s terms this would be considered selective vision. Dishes in the sink, dust on the mantle, clothes in overflowing the hamper, toothpaste on the mirror have to become invisible in order to rock a baby to sleep. Strategy suggests incorporating mindless housework into activities that the children could construe as play. One of our favorites was creating an ice skating rink on the kitchen floor with shaving cream. (A tradition, I'm proud to say has been handed down to my grandchildren.) Then while my children are skimming across the soapy surface the floor inadvertently is cleaned.

Finally, once all the children were in school I returned to pursue a college degree. Thank God for Starbucks or I wouldn’t have been able to pull off those late night study sessions. ( My body has since revolted, I can no longer drink coffee without extreme discomfort, I'll spare you the details.) Again, closing my eyes to mounting piles of laundry, molding food in the refrigerator or dust balls the size of melons required tunnel vision. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that once I remarried, my dear husband took on much of the housework and cooking so I could focus on my schooling. This still required a type of blurred vision as he accomplished these necessary tasks in his own way. (You can actually wash everything in the same load, stuff towels every which way in the closet and stack dishes in the cupboards haphazardly. Once the door is closed who cares!)

How did all this experience instruct my writing life? Well, to write this blog I have shut my eyes to the stack of towels that need folding, dishes in the sink, errands to be run and phone calls to make. There is no spoon…for that matter there is nothing but the words firing from my fingertips creating a matrix of meaning on the page.


  1. Hey what the heck was that? :(
    now that I am back at work, after being Mr. Mom for 6 years, I just better get my socks and dirty undies folded properly!

    Ok, Honey? I love you and support you in your growth as a writer (just so you look hot for me once in a while, and look away from the computer to go on a long walk with me!)

  2. Your writing style is fun, intuitive, and spot on! Love you, dear daughter! You are a walking miracle; evidence that when life gives you a lemon--you make something wonderful!


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