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….