I’m sitting in the overhanging atrium of the public library cafe, surrounded by glass louver windows. I’ve just been handed a coffee by the sour barista, and I chuckle that she has included a sweet flower-shaped cookie.
Outside in the dirt car park of the shire offices I can see two fire trucks and three firemen rolling out hoses to test the local fire plugs; or perhaps to fill up their tanks from the water main. If the boys were here, they would be jumping out of their skin, me commentating on the action like a race caller, as we did at 6am when the rubbish truck passed by our back gate. Now there are four firemen, another having emerged from the twin cab truck. But the boys aren’t here. Funny how much children shape a parent’s frame of reference, even when they are absent. I sit at a table for four, even though there is only one of me.
It is becoming increasingly hard to find time to write. It seems the choice for my “free-time” (for free time always comes at a cost) is health vs. writing; last week I found myself at the gym three times, and wrote nothing other than what I was paid to write. This week, I’ve written around 3,000 words so far. Gym trips or walks: 0. I don’t know how to settle this score. I’m slightly overweight, neck and back pain slow me down, and yet the gravitational pull of my desk is far stronger than that of the treadmill. A treadmill with a keyboard would perhaps be the ideal solution.
I’ve began work on a major project, which is still just a baby but will hopefully yield a workable first draft. It comes at a time when I’m also taking on more paid writing work, and the demands at home are unabated. A writing routine alludes me, despite Mr Karen now working part-time. He still takes first bite at our days, and I wipe up the crumbs; this is the nature of his work, which involves juggling his job, running a building business from home, plus his responsibilities at home. That said, I was at the library at 9am this morning, so I won’t complain. Writing is flexible, and pays less, two factors which ultimately determine how we divide our days.
Mr Karen has this morning dropped Hamish at kinder and Louis at school, and when I left home he was just arriving in the back gate with Ruben. Ruben, in the blue pram with the beige sun hat, gripping his stuffed rabbit in one hand and in the other clutching a zip lock bag full of dry cereal. There was promise of a play in the garden with daddy. It sounds almost perfect.
May good work spring from what Joanna Murray-Smith calls this “voluptuous, ramshackle life” of motherhood. I can only believe that it will.
Do you have a writing routine? Do you think routine is important to creating a volume of work, or do you think routine is the antithesis of creativity?