One bottle of Greylock gin
Limes & tonic
What If? (Book of writing prompts by Pamela Painter and Anne Bernays)
Manuscript in progress
Tea & coffee
With the exception of the manuscript in progress, this could be a good gift list. But that’s not actually what this is. Instead, it is the start of the packing list for a writing retreat I am planning with three other women–writing partners with whom, over five years of regular meetings, I have forged strong friendships. The prospect of this weekend is making me giddy with excitement. One member has access to a house by the beach in Maine. We have planned several solid chunks of writing time, small excursions on the coast, good meals out, and time to review our work together. I dream of taking a notebook down to the beach, of sketching out the next few scenes of my new book. But, as must be the case, this excitement is countered by the grinding of wheels in my brain which must immediately roll into action to plan the logistics of coverage in my absence: school and preschool drop off and pickup, management of Little One while Big One is at martial arts with her father, teaching coverage for my dance students, etc. I–and those around me–will make it happen, I know we will, and so I let my excitement carry me forward. But it is a constant juggle.
People keep asking me what I’d like for my upcoming birthday, which some view as a significant one for reasons that seem to be rather arbitrary, and the answer is this: time. That’s all I want. And I’m willing to wager that time is all any writer really wants. I don’t need more stuff cluttering my life. But please, take my fabulous children and allow me a day of writing, a day of reading, a day of letting my mind go free, of planning only according to what I want and not around what others want or need or expect.
This, I think, will resonate with any parent, especially primary care-giving parent, trying to carve out time for a creative pursuit. If you know one, the most wonderful thing you can do for him or her is to offer your services to help free up some time. It will cost you very little–assuming their children are not tyrants–and will earn you some serious gratitude and good karma.