Writing with Hobbles

I have started writing again, in drips and drabs, since the birth of my son 8 weeks ago. I am working under a set of distinct challenges, and I am trying to use them as a way to experiment with ways to write besides my standard. My hobbles?

1. Lack of time.

2. Lack of document.

3. Lack of usual layout.

Obviously, with a new baby the amount of time I have to focus is narrow. I actually have quite a lot of down time, if I choose to spend breastfeeding sessions on writing instead of reading, but even so it’s not like I have hours-long blocks of time. I have minutes-long, maybe an hour if I am being indulgent and letting him nap on the breast. What these splintered pieces of time means is, I need to just jump right in and start going. That is a state I can attain when I am obsessed by a story but struggle with when I am getting into a story. If I am not obsessed I tend to waste a lot of time re-orienting myself by reading what I wrote before to try and pick up the mood and narrative thread.

That said, the only way I can realistically write right now is on my iPhone. The notepad there is not robust; it is barebones scribbling. But it’s what I have, for two reasons. First, getting a full computer pulled up is only workable when the baby is sleeping in his wrap or after he’s in bed for the night. Using only those moments would waste a lot of time. Second, my laptop is on the verge of death. A while back the power adapter port broke, and I was able to salvage a few more months out of it by duct-taping the adapter into the port. Recently it slipped again, and I was unable to get it taped stably back in place. My husband has a laptop I could use, but it lacks my files and, again, is only usable in narrow circumstances.

So not only am I writing on my phone, which reduces typing speed, I am also having to write blind, because I don’t have the work-in-progress files. I’ve got enough battery left on the laptop to retrieve them to my external harddrive, but I don’t have them yet. It’s hard for me not to be able to reference exactly what I wrote before, but I’m trying to use it as a means to force myself forward. NaNoWriMo style. I can synthesize and revise later…I’m going to have to write over a lot of it anyway, as all I can bring myself to do on the phone is scene sketching without serious grounding details.

Part of that is just trying to keep up with my thoughts at a third of the speed I normally have to type with, but most of it is the visual layout being unfamiliar and unsettling. I can tell in a glance at a Word doc whether a scene is long enough…I have no frame of reference on that tiny little screen. You’d think I would, after reading so many Kindle books on it, but…I don’t.

I am trying to convince myself that shaking it up is a good thing, not just making the best of a bad situation, but it’s hard. I like my routines, even if they don’t work. Why? Because they are comfortable, and I am an Epicurean at heart. I am trying to channel Inara. If only I had her wardrobe….

opportunity in disguise



Filed under Ramblings, Writing

4 responses to “Writing with Hobbles

  1. Nothing to offer – even when I was still well, with my first baby it was ‘sleep when the baby sleeps.’ He never read the book part that said to not worry if the baby slept up to 23 hours out of every 24. Shower only when his father was home to hold him.

    I admire you greatly for trying – and succeeding at all.

    If you think it’s worth the effort – do it. If not, no one will fault you for getting a little extra rest. If your choice varies by day, so be it. As long as you’re still thinking about the story/stories, you will find an amazing amount of groundlaying has been done somewhere in the deep recesses of your brain.

    Silly brains. Once they get addicted to storytelling, they can’t stop trying.

    • Well, you make me feel better about my 100 words a day! I am doing it mainly because the words are there and ready…and because i can only read so many books that make me long for my own stories before getting back to them becomes a priority. Maube not THE priority, but a top five, anyway.

      And yes – silly brain that just won’t stop. Except, apparently, during pregnancy. But that’s all done now so the train is leaving the station. Maybe not full steam ahead yet…but in motion.

      On Sunday, June 29, 2014, Lily White LeFevre wrote:


  2. Your storytelling brain did NOT stop during pregnancy – ‘apparently’ means it was observing and storing things up.

    You are fortunate to have discovered you are a storyteller BEFORE pregnancy – it doesn’t go away. It just isn’t as visible when you are overwhelmed by something else (pregnancy, new baby, lactation). Fortunately, that part of the brain works fine by itself, undercover, in the expectation of future time.

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