Last Night’s Writing, or, How My Beast Saved My Sanity

So, I’m trying to write more, which means finding space within my day as a high school teacher, father, and husband to write.  My wife is very supportive, and most weeks, we’ve decided, I can go away from home for a few hours on Thursday night to write, in much the same way she leaves every Monday to rehearse for the Sacramento Master Singers (consider this a plug–they are magnificent in concert, and CDs are available).  I have an office at home, and I can write in the main room, but it’s harder to focus when people are talking to you, and I can’t really ask my child not to talk to daddy.  But I can’t do that every day–they call that abandonment.  But there are other periods to work.

As I said, Elli goes to rehearsal every Monday, which means I spend the evening alone with my kid, which is awesome. When she goes to bed, however, it becomes Writing Time.  I have about an hour and a half in which nothing else matters.  Last night, I tried to use that time, but when Elli got home at 10, I had only a measly 230 words to show for my trouble.  I was disgusted with myself.  How could I do so poorly?  Why wasn’t this scene working?  What’s wrong with me?

I put away my laptop and talked with Elli–well, since I’m voiceless thanks to this illness, I listened while she talked–then I had an insight.  Simply put, it was “You cannot let this defeat you.  You have another hour before bed.  Keep going.”  So I did.  And halfway through a stupid, badly written line about my protagonist being angry at another starship captain, my Beast–that part of the writer that simply must write–rose up from its stupor, shook off the remains of teaching 14 year old kids grammar, grabbed me by the brain, and shook it really hard.  I suddenly realized what was wrong with this scene and how to fix it.  I deleted the bad line, moved my cursor above most of the scene, and started rewriting.

About an hour later, I had an additional 672 words, for a lovely total of 902 words.  Not my personal best (that would be the 4,800 words I wrote in five hours at VP), but good, especially as I doubt I will ever top that feat of writing when I’m not on break and alone.

I’m still not sure what to call the Beast, but I think I’ll keep him.

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About Michael Johnston

Father of a fifth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Forty-six years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA
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One Response to Last Night’s Writing, or, How My Beast Saved My Sanity

  1. M.E. Garber says:

    Awesome! Permission to Write Badly is sometimes necessary in order for our brains to access that darn Beast and finally Write Goodly. Um, Well-ly. Or something like that 😉 Glad you made it through!

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