Thursday, October 11, 2012

No Time?

Kinds of blue

I have writer friends who say they don't have time to write. Yet they have time to post on Facebook about not having time to write, time to post Instagram photos of the food they're eating in restaurants, time to eat in restaurants. Time is something much on my mind these days. I can see hints in my toddlers' movements of the little boys they will become. Sometimes, in the right light, I can see the men they will one day be.

Let's check out the "yocks" over there!
Time moves too fast, so often. Here's something I want to tell my friend (and my students!) about time and about writing: I don't have time to write, either. I need that time to delight in the amazingness that is two growing boys. I need that time to grade papers, to buy groceries, to run, to do yoga. Whole weeks, months sometimes, go by without my sitting down for an hour or two to compose my thoughts. But I still think of myself as a writer. Eventually, some of the ideas I jot down here and there will get refined, between the laundry and bedtime, between the papers and prepping, between the breaths. This is what it means to me to be a writer. If I waited until I had time to write, I'd never write a single word.

My job takes up most of my non-toddler time. I can't seem to find the focus or space I need in order to grade at home—there's the possibility that someone will wake up at naptime, or at night I zone out by mindlessly surfing Facebook or watching Tremé. So I go to a café near the UC Berkeley campus that stays open late. Two rooms of tables are packed with folks mostly working, heads bent over laptops, textbooks, or stacks of papers. I walk in, and I'm transported back to my days as a graduate student, when I could count on running into my friends at our favorite coffee shop or the library's café. We'd grade companionably, or read for seminars while gossipping. I loved the texts I was studying in school, but even more than that, I loved those long days and nights spent sipping coffee and working, the sense that we all belonged to the peculiar tribe of people who spend Saturday nights grading papers and reading books. Now, I hurry home by 9:30 instead of staying out until the library closes and heading out to dance afterward. But the café gives me the illusion for those two hours that I have turned the clock back, that I am back with my tribe. 

I am editing this piece while the boys nap. It's risky. I suppose that I could also be doing something else—watching a show, reading yet another parenting book, working on college recommendation letters. And all of those things will be done in time too. But right now I have more interest in wringing these thoughts out, so I can move on and think of something else. I choose to write. Maybe my friends who say they don't have time to write simply choose to do something else.

Spending some time watching paint dry. Literally.


Gerry said...

"Time is something much on my mind these days. I can see hints in my toddlers' movements of the little boys they will become. Sometimes, in the right light, I can see the men they will one day be."

So beautifully said, Larissa. Keep juggling. You put me to shame the way you find the time to write. I'm so glad you do.

Larissa said...

Thanks so much, Gerry! I really appreciate all your support!

Christine Parson said...

A paean to the need to create. Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts.

c & b said...

Hi Larissa,

It's Christina (Prep). I check into your blog periodically, but this is the first time I feel compelled to write a comment. It's true, we all find excuses, mine is not having enough time to exercise, but I have plenty to troll FB, read other people's blogs, and write my own. Motivation and priority plays such a part. It's more important for me to document my daughter's life. Maybe that sounded strange, I guess what I mean is that she is growing so fast, I write these things down so as to not forget the little gems (it also helps to keep those who don't live close by up to date). But as an English teacher I imagine that writing fuels you as well, it fulfills a side in you that helps you to be the mom, the wife, the teacher, the friend, the daughter that you are. I admire people who write so eloquently. It is such a gift.