Why I may never finish my novel (A Litany of Excuses)

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632 - 1675 ), A Lady Writing, c. 1665    National Gallery of Art images.nga.gov

Johannes Vermeer (Dutch, 1632 – 1675 ), A Lady Writing, c. 1665
National Gallery of Art images.nga.gov

It is a damp chilly April day, a rarity in the Sierras. I started with the best of intentions. I stacked library books next to my chair, ready for a day of research and writing. My dear husband offered to make coffee and French toast. My son declared his intention to pack and then rip dvds onto his computer for a long school bus trip to Las Vegas. My daughter had plans to hike with some friends.   Being female, she had packed on Friday.

I anticipated a peaceful Saturday when I could get some research done for the alternative historical novel I’ve begun. I had a lovely vision of sitting in our sun room, pen in hand, a pot of strong black tea on the table beside me. I could slip away into the arcane description of hard-rock mining and Victorian schoolmarms. And then, just as I was settling in…

My husband, being the loving helpful man that he is, began to vacuum in the room where I planned to work. Well, that is a wonderful thing because I hate vacuuming. I don’t mind waiting while he performs a chore that I find soul-crushing.

Then my phone began to ding with frantic texts from my daughter. The girls had taken a wrong turn on their hike and didn’t know where they were going. I asked her to send me a photo of her location to see if I could identify the trail.

Just as I was sending her the proper directions, my son burst into the kitchen holding a new pair of trousers. “Mom! Look at what happened when I pulled the tags off! These are ruined! I don’t have pants to pack for tomorrow.” He was frantic. I looked and saw only some glue residue from the size tags, a minor laundry chore. I told him I would deal with his problem after I resolved his sister’s problem. Motherhood gives you great triage skills.

I called my daughter to give directions to the proper trail head. By this time, my son had pulled my husband into his clothing dilemma. He failed to mention that he had already asked me what to do. My son’s anxiety can be quite contagious. Between the two men, they determined that the trousers were permanently ruined and needed to be returned to the store. That’s when the crisis reached a crescendo.

“I took all the tags off–Mom told me to! Now we can’t return it to the store–that’s why Mom always says–leave the tags on.” He was shouting at my husband who was still trying to vacuum.

I proceeded to explain to my son that one, the pants merely needed to be laundered and two, if an item is truly defective, it can be returned to the store even if the tags have been removed. I rubbed a little dish soap on the pants and magically removed the residue. Giddy with success, I went to show my son that I had resolved the problem. But he was nowhere to be seen. I wandered from room to room and finally found him, bent over the laptop, watching a You tube video, the crisis long-forgotten.

So, dear reader, that is why my novel hasn’t been written.

Motherhood–that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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