Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2018  Vol. 17 No. 1
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Confetti Time

I’m a solo parent to two young children, and my writing process revolves around the pockets of time between grocery shopping, dinner fixing, gymnastics carpool, and doctor appointments. All these interruptions—no matter how lovely or mundane—fracture my focus. Three hours divided into ten short writing sessions over three days is not the same as three solid hours of sustained attention. Years ago, I happened upon a phrase that captures the fragmented nature of my days: “confetti time”—my biggest muse and my greatest challenge.

When my kids were two and five, I returned to writing after a four-year hiatus. I drafted memoir shorts at top speed in hopes that I might get down the bones of a piece before naps ended or baths began. Once I had a draft, I knew I could circle back and revise. Soon, the memoir shorts piled up. In a couple years, I realized I’d accrued over one hundred pages of a manuscript, which stunned me. By then, one kid had started school, granting me larger chunks of time, and I thought maybe, maybe, I could somehow weave these into a book of sorts. Now my kids are eight and eleven, and after years of consistent writing in ten-minute or two-hour chunks of time, my first book—built on the foundation of these shorts—is forthcoming.

I could tell you more inspiring things, like the way I scribble words and phrases on hotel notepads every day, recording anything that catches my creative attention. I could tell you how I transcribe these notes onto note cards and keep them in a recipe box on my desk so that I might later pull out a card that reads, Dick Cheney, bunker, divorce, contact dermatitis, and how I then craft an essay from these disparate elements, letting them collide and spark. And I could say that watching the larger story emerge from these details as I write is the real magic, the why of my writing (because it is).

But that might eclipse the biggest lesson of my domestic, post-MFA life, which is that endurance and sustained attention are everything. In the end, it doesn’t matter when or how the work got done. It matters that it did get done, one tiny piece at a time.  

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