I have figured something out. I am not going to get any more time in my days. Ground-breaking, I know.
I drastically underestimated the impact the dog would have on my life, and while I am glad we have her, the down side is that I don’t have the same time for writing. No more hiding away upstairs in the computer room with words swirling around my head until hunger, thirst, or the urgent need to pee drive me from the screen. It’s just about the only disadvantage to having the dog that I can think of. Well, that and the poo thing.
It’s not that I don’t have ideas. In fact, taking the dog for a walk every day gives me a chance to wrestle my thoughts into phrases so that if anything, I have more to write about now. But having dog and child together means that quiet moments that I could have used to sneak upstairs and throw a few sentences on the page now have to be spent downstairs. Where there is always noise.
For the first few months after Doodle arrived, I promised myself that this was a temporary arrangement. That eventually she would settle down and I would be able to go upstairs and life would continue as normal. But as with children, you can’t dictate a dog’s personality. She’s sociable. She likes to be where the people are. She follows me around diligently. Dishwasher to drier to living room to washing machine to dishwasher. And if I go upstairs, she lies with her nose against the downstairs door, waiting. The mental image makes it very difficult to concentrate.
So I had a choice: be a grumpy writer who is not writing enough, or learn a way to write in my new environment. Learn to write beyond the noise. Learn to be in the space physically that Little Person needs me to be, but keep half my head thinking writer thoughts. I never thought I would be able to do it. But then I never thought I would be a dog owner. Or a parent. Or a million other things.
I have realised that I have somehow made writing into a Thing. Because it’s relatively safe, but also dangerous; comforting and wild and beautiful; easy and hard; solace, shelter and furnace for my thoughts. Something that important, valuable needs to be treasured, right? Wrong. It needs to be expressed. Sometimes, the writing is like the laundry – it just needs to be done. The mystery is that there is no mystery – there are just words on a page, if we are brave enough to put them there. And this demand for silence so I could concentrate was an excuse not to be brave.
I will write.