Night-night, writer

Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. Pictures by Clement Hurd.

The little dance I do before sitting down to write is the same little dance my children do before they go to bed. First I have to get a drink. Then I have to read another story. Then I’m too hot. Then I’m too cold. Then I need a hug. Then I need to talk to my pretend animals and rehearse conversations I might have someday. Then I need another story. Then I need another hug.

As a parent, I get so frustrated with my children. “Go to bed!” I say. “You don’t need another drink. You already had a drink. Stop talking and go to bed.”

I want them to go to bed because then I’m off the clock. Once the children are nestled asleep in their bed, mama can have a drink or watch the sci-fi she deemed too violent for her children. Mama needs a break, kids. Mama is tired of you. Go to bed, already.

But they don’t want to go to bed. Bed is no fun.

They don’t want to go to bed like I don’t want to write.

Why would I want to write when there’s TV I could be watching? Why would I want to write when there’s snacks? Why would I want to write when I could be engaging in a very important Facebook battle about outrages, and are you as outraged as I am? You should be, but probably aren’t, my outrage is the finest outrage in all the land!

There are a million reasons not to write. There are a million reasons not to go to bed.

But my children must go to bed. They must. And not just because I can’t stand them anymore. My children need to go to bed so they can dream, and so their bodies can repair and grow, and so they can wake refreshed, with energy and good cheer. They must rest.

And I must write.

I feel better after I’ve written. It’s a nutrient: Vitamin W. Does it solve anything? Who says it has to solve anything? Let’s not confuse creativity with productivity. My writing has to meander, like my children’s dreams. I write to repair myself and grow. I write so I can be refreshed.

I write, and then I get up and face the day. The squirming is part of the process.