I’m supposed to be on my way to Albuquerque tomorrow, for my organization‘s writers’ retreat. Workshops, writing time, discussion groups. Friends who have brains like mine. Friends who are on social media right now talking with each other as they pack, excited to meet up with a blueberry margarita in hand before the (awesome, fun, hard, rewarding) work begins.
But.I put off getting my plane tickets for a couple of reasons, and by the time I sat down to get them, the prices were so high I couldn’t bring myself to book the flights. (Note: never, ever pay off the last credit card and then make a solemn, empathic family vow to stop using them the same year you book a spot at a great writer’s retreat. Ain’t nobody got time for that kind of fiscal responsibility.) If you’d guess that I’m a little bummed about this, you’d be a good guesser. Or you saw me crying. Either or.
Now.I sit here at the kitchen table, surrounded by notes and index cards and lots and lots of words in my head. Two of the three children are sick with colds and in need-the-mom mode. Husband is busy with work, overwhelmed-style, but quietly so, because he’s better at balancing my mom/writer life than I am. We’re out of groceries. I was making popcorn at the stove this morning at 6:30 just so we’d have something for the kids’ school snacks. (So proud. So, so proud.) I have two things I need to be doing (writing, mom-ing), but as always, naturally, the one looms larger over the other.
Tomorrow, my writer tribe will be in the air headed to New Mexico. I will still be here, at the kitchen table, the same Leah in her yoga pants and baseball cap, the mom trying to be the writer who’s supposed to be the mom. First world problems: children at home, writers in flight, moms who can chase their dreams and raise their children and attempt it all. It’d be easier if I didn’t want to keep writing. (Or if we didn’t need to eat at home.) You know that. I know that.
But.Tomorrow, I will attempt it all over again, as always. The writing. The mom-ing. Even the grocery shopping (though that should probably happen today if I expect these people to get fed). And I will ducking away from social media, with the status updates and the photos by my writer friends with their blueberry margaritas (I have a nine-dollar bottle of wine around here somewhere…) or at their marathon writing sessions on the sunlit hotel patio (I have a deck? That overlooks my neighbor’s backyard?) or sitting down to dinner at a winery in town to cheer each other’s successes (I’ll be nagging my daughter to stop dragging her lunch bag along the ground at school pick-up. Now, who wouldn’t be jealous of that?). It’s cool. It’s fine.
But know. From here on out, I will be working like mad to get this writing finished (it’s never finished). Because a book contract paid for my last retreat. A book contract could pay for the next one. Which makes the writer happy, and the mom happy, and the family just a bit more, well, fed (I WILL have grocery shopped). It’s not the writing that makes the stuff pile up and the to-do lists get longer (and those lists go unfinished). It’s the crazy. It’s the Leah. It’s the, well, life.
(Who needs blueberry margaritas, anyway? I’m more of a vodka girl myself. So there, world.)
But off to work I go. There’s a spot on that hotel patio I keep thinking about–you can hear the water splashing in a nearby fountain as you work, there’s shade overhead to shield the laptop screen, and if you look up, glance around, you’ll see a dozen or so of your people, heads bent over their own work. For a moment, they’re not anything other than writers. For a moment, you’re one of them, too. I’d better make sure I get back there.
I’ve been staring at my laptop screen for the past five minutes, trying…
I’m at a coffee shop (okay, it’s a Panera, because #suburbs…