Saturday, October 14, 2006
All before sunrise...
Beep, beep, beep...beep, beep, beep...beep, beep, beep. My watch alarm already? It's dark. I'm sleepy. But I get up anyway.
"MEOW! MEOW!" Bristle's hungry. I try to finish up in the bathroom as quick as I can so she doesn't wake Scott.
The cats are crunching away at their bowl. My coffee and oatmeal sit steaming next to the computer. I press the power button and flip open the print-out of my manuscript to where I left off.
The computer is booted up and the document is now open on the screen. I start keying in the edits I've marked on the print-out. I flip back a few pages to check on something and see a sentence that doesn't read very well—awkward wording and vague, lazy description. Shit! I thought this part was in pretty good shape already. I start tweaking the language, trying to get it to flow better.
I'm still struggling with the part I thought I'd finished already. I have no idea how to improve it. Fear and insecurity make every word seem like gibberish. Who am I kidding, anyway? It's all crap. I've been spinning my wheels for months, no years and this stinking heap of ineptitude is all I've managed to come up with. (And now I'm ending my thoughts in prepositions! Some writer!)
What's sad is people I know are actually excited to read this! It's going to be so embarrassing when they see how much it sucks. I spend a minute feeling sorry for them because I know they'll worry about sparing my feelings. Poor souls.
I finally figure out how to fix the sentence that's been torturing me. Thank god! Now I flip back to where I started and try to stay focused on the words themselves without getting overwhelmed by everything else.
I'm clipping along pretty well—able to float down the wordstream on the page, not worrying anymore, almost too engrossed to notice I’m not worrying anymore.
Kyle. He’s not supposed to be up until six, although I usually hear from him earlier. Not this early, however. I dash back to his room before he wakes up anyone else.
“My nose doesn’t feel right,” he says. His consonants are thick with congestion.
“Oh, are you stuffed-up? Would you like a Kleenex?” He nods and rubs at his droopy eyes.
I sprint to the kitchen and the Kleenex box, consider bringing back the whole box so he’ll be less likely to ask (no yell) for more in 10 minutes, but then a premonition hits—the floor of Kyle’s room, littered with thick clouds of delicate white tissue paper. I pull out three sheets instead, and return to his bed.
“Here you go, Honey.”
“Thanks.” He swipes the tissue across his nose and curls up on his side with his eyes closed.
“Try to go back to sleep, okay?”
“Okay,” he mumbles.
I cover him up and tip toe out, closing the door as softly as I can. Usually if he wakes up any time after four in the morning, he’s up for the day. But he was acting so sleepy, maybe he’ll go back to sleep this time…. I decide to be optimistic.
I’m working, editing page after page. My critical voice is only whispering now, and I’m able to ignore her most of the time.
Kyle again. I race back.
“I don’t want to lie here anymore. I want to get up.”
“I’m sorry, Sweets. It’s not six yet.”
“But I don’t want to lie he-“
It’s Kara this time.
“Just a second, Honey,” I tell Kyle. “I’ll be right back.”
I zip to Kara’s room and open the door.
“I need to go to the baaathrooom!” she sings out in her best Larry the cucumber imitation.
“Okay,” I say holding the door open for her.
“Didn’t you hear how I told you?” she asks, disappointed I didn’t chuckle over her Larry impersonation.
“Yup, just like Larry!” I try to sound cheerful, but it’s not even 5:40 yet and I should be editing right now instead of playing bathroom escort.
Kara, bless her, quickly does what she needs to do and returns to bed without a fuss.
“Can I read until six?” she asks.
“Sure!” I answer, then turn on the light, close the door, and head back to Kyle’s room
“I need to go to the bathroom!” he announces in his normal voice, apparently not in the mood for Larry.
I escort Kyle to the bathroom so he can use the facilities and then march him back to his room.
“Can I go in Kara’s room?”
“Can I play in here?”
I pause, considering. Technically he’s supposed to stay lying in his bed until six. But if I let him play, I’m less likely to hear another round of "MOOMMMYYYY! MOOOMMMYYY!"
“Okay.” I nod. He beams.
I’m editing, but also listening for trouble or cries for assistance from either of the two back bedrooms. Miraculously, all stays quiet and I finish up page 50.
I've now edited 50 pages! Yay! Only 400 more to go! Crap.
Kara and Kyle come skipping out, happy that six has arrived at last. I’m less than happy. In fact, I’m many things and happy is not one of them. I’m frustrated about the editing, worried that the manuscript sucks, irritated that despite doing my best to carve out some uninterrupted time, I still get interrupted.
And I’m guilty about feeling irritated. After all, these are my precious children who need me, whom I love so much simply thinking about how much I love them makes me wince. I shouldn’t let myself get irritated.
I swallow my frustration, irritation, and guilt; save the file; turn off the computer; smile; and start making breakfast.