The day started like any other day this past month. That meant one thing: chaos.
This is particularly hard for a schedule-loving writer who is in the middle of a three week writing competition.
I had been doing great. The first two weeks of the competition were a breeze. I finished novella and short story rewrites, I plotted, I finished blog posts, I wrote stories and snippets. In short, I was very productive. My team was winning, I earned more points than most of my teammates and I was on fire.
Throughout the temporary housing, the unsurely of the move, the stress and fear that we might not even get the house, through worrying about my gliders and watching the beauty of fall slip away, I stayed productive and I was elated because my energy wasn’t running out and I was sure that it never would. I had found the ability to write without burning out and it was awesome!
Then we moved.
We left the airbnb and got to our real, beautiful house. We slept two nights in the place that we hope to make home.
When I woke, I found that my energy had vanished with my dreams of lemonade flavored cookies. Week three of the competition started and I just wanted to sleep.
After a breakfast of air, I forced my stiff fingers to type. A very slow hour ticked by. You would think that after an hour of constant typing I would have written something brilliant. But the 1,838 words that I managed to pound out on the beginning of a novel were completely useless. After writing and rewriting and then re-rewriting the first part of the first chapter of the novel and hating every word of it, I shut the computer off and sat down – or leaned back, since I was already sitting.
Then I felt guilty for not writing. After all, it was the last week of the competition and everyone was getting tired. I should harness all of my strength and determination and write something. I could be more than the other mortals on my team (and especially on the opposing team).
My mind wandered to my poor, neglected blogs. Yes. Perfect. I would write the much needed update for my sugar glider blog, An Inky Dream. Pleased with the idea, I got to work immediately.
The post turned out fine. It may have been sloppier than normal and there may have been numerous typos that my sleepy brain missed, but people would understand, right? It’d been a traumatic few weeks.
Baruch called me to the lunch that I was more than happy to run to. Food is essential for life, after all. Writing could wait.
I sat on the box-filled dining room floor between Yoveil and Dovid.
“I don’t like the food, Hada!” Yoveil wailed and she looked with disgust on her plate.
Dovid plopped down beside me, tears filling his eyes. “I want ketchup!”
I put a spoonful of food into my mouth. Yoveil pulled on my arm and succeeded in pulling the spoon out of my mouth and dropping bits of food all over my already-stained skirt.
“Hada, feed me!”
Dovid, tears running down his cheeks, said, “Mommy said me have ketchup if you watch me! Me want ketchup!”
A squirt of red, thick sauce went on top of Dovid’s food. I fell into a rhythm. One spoonful of lunch into Yoveil’s mouth. One into my own. A ketchup covered bite into Dovid’s. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
When I finally throw the paper plates and forks into the trash (and feel guilty for discarding them because, after all, such things cost money) my mind turns again to writing. Oh, my enemy. Once a friend, now you turn against me. Or I got tired of you.
After writing a snippet that made no sense and posting it for real, talented writers to read and secretly judge, I prepared to again face the novel that had so miserably failed that morning.
I ran a hand through my hair. It felt greasy and thin. I grimaced as I remembered the shampoo bottle at the airbnb that guaranteed three-day hair shine and promoted that like it was a good thing. Ha. Good shampoo should last at least five days. Busy writers (or people who are avoiding said writing) shouldn’t have to spend a precious half hour standing beneath running every three days because the shampoo didn’t protect their hair from the head’s natural grease.
My quick shower morphed into a long time where I soaked my aching back. Electronics and paper do not mix well with water. Hence, I had a perfect excuse to avoid writing.
The hot water and the gross smell of the shampoo tugged at my eyes and begged me to rest. When I at last emerged from the steamy bathroom, all I wanted to do was sleep. A bed. A dark room. Nice music. Ahh. So much better than writing.
But I don’t take naps because, despite popular belief, they only make me more tired. What I needed was a nice little break. I would read for an hour and I would be re-inspired to write. It had happened before and it would happen again.
I grabbed my kindle and clicked on Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson. A book about writing. What could be more inspiring?
As I read the introduction, my thoughts wandered from the page to my laptop that I had left on the floor in the bedroom that me and my sisters were sharing while we waited for our rooms in the bedroom to be finished.
Guiltiness ran through me. I was indulging in a good book (that a brilliant, successful and amazing author had written – not by avoiding his project but by actually working on it) while precious moments slipped by. I should have been writing, should have been gaining points for my team…or at least watching my high-energy, high-noise siblings so that my parents could unpack the boxes that everyone dreaded touching.
I fixed my eyes on my kindle and sighed. Slowly, very slowly, I put it down. I ran up the stairs (when did stairs become so hard to go up? Oh, yeah, somewhere around the time that my treadmill got packed up and I became a couch potato). I grabbed my laptop, descended the stairs and dropped into the new leather chairs that we had bought the day before. Comfort met my (still) aching back and legs.
I would conquer the novel.
I would write some good words on it.
I would succeed and earn points in the process.
I took a deep breath and that unmistakable new-house-smell filled my nose. Nahum, Baruch and Dovid dashed into the living room with paper signs on which they had written no more Halloween and had drawn pictures of ghosts and then crossed them out.
I watched as they proceeded to stand by the big living room windows that faced the road and waved their signs shouting (though no one could hear them) “No more Halloween! Down with Halloween!”
So much for a peaceful writing atmosphere.
While the protesting continued and confused pedestrians tried to read the small print on the small signs, I faced the novel.
I was the writer. It was my story. I knew my characters well and loved them dearly. I could write it. I would write it.
“No more Halloween!” Baruch shouted.
“Ooh look, someone’s walking by!” Nahum cheered in glee. “Ahh! They looked! They saw our sign! Haha! This is great!”
The shouting redoubled. I turned my eyes back to my novel. My fingers typed a few words. Ridiculous words. I punched the backspace key and shook my head. Hanukah music played loudly from the next room.
Ideas flashed through my mind. I could write a Hanukah story. I’d use the same characters from my dreaded novel, I’d just write something different.
I’m constantly amazed by the ingenuity of a mind trying to avoid a specific task.
After two people had misread my brother’s signs and thought they were handing out snacks, the excitement died down and the poor, misunderstood protesters went off to find something else to do.
I still sat on the very comfortable leather chair, staring at my feared novel. The beginning wasn’t working. I would have to start over. Again.
Kris Wild hurled –
A surge of sibling’s dash into the room with a new set of signs. They taped four pieces of paper together and wrote in large, block letters No More Halloween. Except for Yoveil’s sign, which said, I Love Guinea Pigs.
Nahum glanced at Yoveil’s sign. “No! We’re protesting Halloween. You can’t be in here if you’re going to talk about guinea pigs.”
“Guinea pigs are great!” Yoveil shouted to the window. “Guinea pigs, guinea pigs, guinea pigs!”
Baruch’s sign drooped and he said, slowly and without enthusiasm, “No…More…Halloween…”
“Sound more excited!” Nahum cried. He waved his arms wildly as a car drove by. “Nobody’s reading the sign.”
Yoveil taped her sign to the window. “Everyone is going to give me guinea pigs!”
Hasmonean – the Hamilton parody performed by the Maccabeats – played in the background and mixed strangely with the shouts of, “Halloween is nasty! Come on, people, read the sign!” and “Give me guinea pigs!” and “Ketchup is the best!”
How was a writer supposed to work under such circumstances? I tried one last time (after deleting the two words that had been the fifth attempt at a start) and I failed. Miserably.
A red light blinked on my computer and declared that I only had 10% battery left. Perfect. And so, amidst music and Dovid crying and shouts about guinea pigs and Halloween, I closed my laptop and went to find the cord.
The novel could wait.
One day, when I had more energy, I’d finish the beginning.
As I stooped to plug my computer in, a brilliant idea flashed across my mind. I threw myself down on the floor beside my typing machine and ran my hands over the familiar and worn keyboard.
Ideas, inspiration and energy flowed from my mind to my fingers and out onto the page.
Turns out that writing sarcastic blog posts about my chaotic life is very energizing to an exhausted human.
And yes, for any of you who are wondering, this post was written for points. I earned a grand total of six for this and made my daily score of points to 28.5, which is pretty good for someone who was too exhausted to even write her own name that morning.