A guest post to motivate, encourage and inspire…
Write in Your Car
When my twin sons were nine months old and their older brother four-and-a-half, I took the first writing class of my adult life. Two evenings a week, six other women and I gathered in the cozy reading room of our local library, discussing short stories, working on our powers of description, and writing scenes. I’d return home from class to find my husband and all three kids asleep on the recliner, exhausted from the effort of surviving without me.
When I complained to my teacher that I didn’t have time to write with two babies and a preschooler, she had no sympathy. “Find the time,” she instructed. “Make the time. Write in your car.” She described how, as a single mother and nurse, she used to park her car where she had a view of the ocean and write.
My older son attended preschool three days a week, and his pickup time coincided with the twins’ nap. Most days I had to wake them up to put them in the car, a process that usually left at least one of us crying. After my instructor’s suggestion, I began leaving for the preschool pickup an hour early and parking in a Civil War-era cemetery on the way. From the windshield, I looked out on towering oak trees, mossy boulders, and marble headstones like rows of crooked, yellow teeth. And I wrote. In a notebook or on our geriatric laptop, I worked on assignments for class, completed short essays, and sketched out humor pieces. The twins, asleep in their car seats, got a full nap while I got an hour of writing.
Later that spring my maternity leave ended, and with it my nap-time writing sessions. But I carried the practice of writing in the car with me. I wrote in the car during baseball practices and warmup time before soccer games. I scribbled poems in the parking lot of the YMCA before my morning swim. While completing my MFA, I wrote in the car when the library was closed or the weather too nice to sit in the stacks (and I discovered that it’s best not to park in a certain riverfront lot in the evening if all you have in mind is writing).
As my kids have gotten older, finding the time and quiet space to write has not gotten any easier. Their activities fill most evenings and their noises—drums, electric guitar, silly songs—fill the air space inside our house. Or they look over my shoulder and talk incessantly, as they have the whole time I’ve been writing this. Some days, when there are too many ideas running around in my head and no chance to put them down on paper, I feel like whining, like I did to my teacher all those years ago, “I don’t have time to write.” When this happens, I know I need to get in my car, park somewhere with a nice view, and write.