Monday, January 4, 2016

Finding the controller

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to write a poem a day.

One of the universe’s New Year’s resolutions was to keep that from happening through any means necessary.

Day one of 2016 went pretty well. I wrote a poem and shared it with a friend who maintains a similar promise to herself. I’m probably not going to be asked to read it at the inauguration of President Trump, but it’ll do. It was a good day’s work.

Day two, I revised something old. It came to mind because it was so similar to the day one poem, thematically speaking. So now I have a new poem and a revised poem, and for the revised poem, it’s sort of like someone with much better hair has shown up in its same prom dress. I’d call that a bit of a wash. One could argue they’re sort of the same poem.

Day three, I had a bad fall in the woods, and I wrote snippets of a poem about it, and they’re interesting—but there was a diaper to change and a meal to make and a thing to clean and a game controller to locate, and … you know. The poem gets left behind in those circumstances, unless one has incredible discipline and the ability to tell screaming people that I’m not the controller-finder so you’ll just have to do it yourself. Me, I’d rather just find the game controller than go through all of that. Sadly, though, at the end of the day I was left with lines that weren’t able to figure out to play well together (much like a couple other people in my house, in fact), and there the words sit in my notebook, still keeping the poem’s shape a secret from me.

Today was busy with cleaning and kid duty and travel, and I haven’t had a chance to write yet. It would make little sense to move ahead with a new poem when I have yesterday’s poem awaiting my attention. I’m hoping fresh eyes will make everything clearer, if a day late. Heck, even this blog post is late—it’s nighttime, and I like to get these things posted in the morning. Call it common courtesy. I don’t like to make my readers wait. I’m sure Mom has a lot of other things she’d like to be doing.

But this post introduces a topic I’ll be discussing a lot in the coming weeks, and that is finding the time to create. It’s good to prioritize art, and it’s truly difficult to put it first. I’m a mom, and my kid is right in front of me with obvious needs (although sometimes they are trivial ones—see the discussion of the lost controller above). When you’re married, sometimes the spouse needs a hand—someone to wield the plunger, someone to turn the eggs. When you teach, and especially when you teach writing, each classroom is composed of two-dozen unique sets of problems, all looking to the front of the class for a sense of where to find the answer.

It’s not hard to find the need in the world. Birds struggle through the winter. There are people who live outside who are walking around right now with wet shoes. Someone needs to show up and be present. Someone has to house a refugee, defeat Donald Trump, ladle up the soup.

But someone has to make the art, too, and if working parents vacate that responsibility because it’s so freaking impossible, that means our voices are left out of a conversation where they are dearly needed.

Let’s begin to talk about how we’re going to find the time to put down these words, set up these lines, move things around, make them sing.  And as a special bonus, we may just end up with a kid who can make her own daggone sandwich—and perhaps one day, her own art.

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