On the Impossibilities of Writing, Fathering and Blogging by Lick The Fridge

Topic: Instant Gratification

Being a father right now is impossibly hard. My twenty-two month old twins are incessantly – impossibly – demanding. The concept that it takes time to respond to these demands, if only a few seconds, has not yet settled in their minds. Exasperated whines and exaggerated cries are the norm when they don’t get what they want right when they want it. They are of course clueless to the effect their demands have on me. The situation is truly impossible.

Meanwhile, I’m trying to write about my life as a dad in the “daddy blogger” realm. I’m trying to write clever and funny pieces that aren’t the typical blog writing. Many of my posts thus far have been more conceptual, almost fictionalized accounts of what it’s like to be a dad of twins. I have spent a lot of time crafting each piece. I have an idiosyncratic sense of humor. I’m irreverent. All these characteristics constitute my voice as a writer. And when it works, I am able to produce what I consider to be good writing. I am able to offer my unique perspective on fathering.

When it doesn’t work though, it’s impossibly maddening.

Lately it has not been working at all. I’ve been attempting to write a particular piece on instant gratification for over two weeks now. I have written three or four different drafts, all with different beginnings, different approaches, and different perspectives. They’re all half completed. I’ve tried to be funny; I’ve tried to be serious. I’ve tried to be straightforward, abstract, and anecdotal. Nothing is good enough. Nothing is working. The piece has gone nowhere.

And it’s really bumming me out.

The irony of not being able to produce a piece on the subject of instant gratification in what I consider to be a reasonable amount of time is not lost on me. And there is the obvious point. I want instant gratification, and I get frustrated when it doesn’t work out for me. When I don’t get immediate results, I falter, I stress, and I wonder what’s going wrong. I question whether I can write in the style I enjoy and produce acceptable pieces in reasonable intervals.

Much of the frustration comes from knowing that I have limited time to do my writing, and if the inspiration doesn’t match up with that time, I’m screwed. If I’m exhausted from getting up in the night, or in a bad mood from an impossibly challenging day, or have other obligations, it only adds to the frustration and worry. When am I going to get this piece finished? What if it doesn’t flow the way I want? How am I going to make it gel like it needs to? What do I do when I’m inspired right in the middle of a double tantrum in the park without access to a notepad and pen? In these situations, of which there are plenty, there’s nothing I can do. It truly is impossible.

In the mere six weeks that I have been writing blog posts, it has become clear that my writing and fathering are directly related to one another. Writing and fathering are the yin and the yang, opposing forces that depend on one another. One does not exist without the other.

When I’m writing well, when the ideas are flowing, when the words are racing across the screen, I am a better father. I’m more patient. I have more tolerance for tantrums. I don’t mind retrieving thrown binkies from underneath couches. I can function on four hours of sleep. I enjoy reading the same books over and over. I am more playful, more engaged, and more enthusiastic. The feeling of success from finishing well-crafted clever blog posts carries over to my interactions with my kids. My writing accomplishments translate directly to fathering accomplishments.

On the other hand, when I can’t get my writing together, it’s all I can do to not focus on how a piece is going to work out, how the opening sentence should read, whether I should use an adverb or not, what the angle of the piece should be, what perspective will work best. I pay less attention to my kids. I’m distracted. They annoy me. I am unable to view their behavior from a rational, mature perspective. I lose my patience quicker. And they don’t get from me what they deserve.

And then I blame it on them. It’s because they’re being impossible that I can’t get my writing together. It’s because they won’t give me a few precious minutes to read someone else’s blog post for inspiration. It’s because they won’t let me sit down at the computer to write a few lines. It’s because I can’t make a phone call to a writer friend to ask for suggestions. These are the reasons that I am unable to get anything accomplished. I know it is wrong to view it this way. I know it isn’t fair. And I know it’s what happens.

Whether it’s the impossibility of fathering that facilitates my struggles with writing, or vice versa, I’m not sure. It’s probably a little of both.

What I am sure of is that I’m going to keep writing, and I’m going to keep blogging, and I’m going to keep fathering. I’ve made commitments to each one. I enjoy each one. Each one has become a part of my identity. I am determined to be successful at all three.

I tried a new strategy to write the piece you’re reading now. I wrote the first draft by hand instead of typing it on the computer. The words flowed easier, and I didn’t stop every other line to go rearrange the words. I didn’t question what I had written and what I was about to write. I just wrote, and I wrote with honesty and without putting pressure on myself to get something completed. I guess you could say that writing and completing this piece on instant gratification – finally! – has given me deferred gratification. Man, it feels good. The delay was worth it.

Today I spent the day with my kids. It was one of the best days we’ve had together in a long time. We laughed, we played in the park, we ate muffins, we took long naps, we cleaned the garage. My kids were not demanding at all. At least it didn’t feel that way. My kids were sweet and funny. They were cooperative and easy going. Our interactions were pleasant. They listened to me, and I listened to them. A day like today reminds me why I’m doing all this in the first place. And it makes me feel good. Maybe this fathering business isn’t so impossible after all.

And I got a blog post out of it.

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