It’s one of those rare mornings when I’m up early and M, my toddler is still asleep. She’s lying in fetal position, always cold at this time. I gingerly cover her tiny body with a blanket and tiptoe downstairs, make myself a coffee and settle down in front of my laptop.
“Let’s write, Brain. Give me something.”
“Hey, we just woke up! I got nothin. Can we do this later?”
“NO! we promised ourselves we wouldn’t procrastinate, remember?”
“Oh look, a shiny new tweet!”.
That’s all it takes for my attention to waver. Damn you, Brain.
Promises, empty promises.
It’s 10 PM. I’m putting M to bed. After seemingly endless minutes of struggle, she’s finally in her pink and blue flannel bunny pajamas and in bed. Her bedside lamp is throwing a low intensity light as we read her favorite bedtime stories. Stories about an extraordinary bear and a Llama’s bedtime routine. We then count the green glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. No signs of sleep yet. Aren’t low lights and stories supposed to lull kids to sleep?
“Mommy, can we read One Bear Extraordinaire one more time, please?”
Here we go again. I sigh and open the hardbound book. The extraordinary bear on the cover is playing a guitar, the drums, cymbals and a harmonica all at once. Good story, but it can get exhausting when you have to read it 170000 times in a day.
“Bear woke up one morning with a song in his head….”
Brain knocks on my skull. “Hey, psst! You know that story you wanted to write? I have something.”
“Not now Brain, I’m reading a bedtime story.”
“Just listen and note it down somewhere. I might forget”
“This is the worst time, really. I don’t have my phone or a paper and pen here. Can we do this later?” I plead.
“But we promised not to procrastinate, remember?”
Damn you, Brain.
Promises, empty promises. Another day of getting nothing written.
We lock horns the following day, my brain and I.
“What was that brainwave you had last night when I was putting M to bed?”
“Oh about that, it’s almost gone, I only remember a couple of snippets.”
“A couple of snippets? Seriously? We only have one more day before the deadline. We have to write and edit and edit some more and then some more before we submit. There’s no time!!”
“Permission to press panic button so you can pull hair out in frustration?”
“Granted, Brain. Granted.”
“But we had promised we won’t write like this. No frustration, no last minute panic, no self loathing about being the worst writer in the world!”
Promises, Empty promises.
We write anyway. Last minute panic is like jet fuel. It never fails to propel my writing. Last minute panic means plopping my little one on the couch for some extra TV time while Mommy writes. I pull out my hair and I write something. I edit like a ninja, but somehow, it is ready before the deadline.
I make empty promises to the craft all the time. I will be calm when I write. I will note down my ideas when they show up. I will write every day and not procrastinate. But muses and ideas are fickle and stubborn. They don’t care if you have a deadline or a writing marathon. They show up whenever they want to.
But truth is, the procrastination, the hair pulling, the frustration and the last minute panic, is just my process. I may have made a thousand empty promises, but the only one that matters is this –
I promise I will respect the process. I promise I will keep writing.