As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently working on the proposal for my second book. A book proposal is a detailed account of what you will write, before you’ve actually all the way written it. You take this mass of material you’ve composed over a period of time, say a year or more, and you try to whittle it or carve it. You try to see the sculpture that’s lurking there in the stone. But that makes the process sound pretty, and it’s not. It’s a slog. It’s trying to create a masterpiece out of a mess.
As I’ve also mentioned, I had a BABY! #3, actually. Not sure if you heard. And as you might imagine, a not quite 7 week old and three year old twins are not known for creating oodles of calming space for me to explore my creative soul. Shocking, I know.
The last seven weeks have been filled with a great beauty, one that I didn’t want to rush. I wanted to enjoy the time my mom and Jamie were here, enjoy the time my mother-in-law was here, gaze at Elle, snuggle L&L, rest when possible. Also drink a little prosecco as able.
This week, I am returning to the proposal. And here’s the point of this post: Sometimes—actually, if I’m honest, all the time—I get lured into thinking that my kids are standing in the way of my productivity. Or, to be more PC, my “life stage” is interrupting my soul’s work.
And then, I realize something very, very important. One of the most vital parts of creative work is the magic of the subconscious. My subconscious can solve problems in my work that my conscious mind can only sit and strangle-hold. Having three children forces me to back away from the work, give it some air, let the whole thing breathe. My “life stage” requires that I take a break. And that, magically, allows my subconscious to kick in. So that when I am making dinner, my mind is working. When I am changing a diaper, my mind is working.
And all of a sudden, huge gaps in the proposal have been filled. Clarity received. Ideas spun from thin air. Concepts fleshed out. All this without ever opening my laptop. I just keep a pen and paper in reach or my phone and get down whatever comes to me when it comes to me.
I wonder if my “life stage” is actually—newsflash—an indispensable component of my creative work. Is it possible that my best ideas could arrive while I’m changing a diaper? That elusive clarity waiting for me as we play at the park? Is it possible that the best way to solve a problem is to back away and let it breathe instead of strangling the darn thing to death? Is it possible?
Is it also possible that God is right here with me, creating tributaries between my vocation as mother and my vocation as writer? Perhaps a mutual filling, one pouring into the other and flowing right back again.
Maybe the thing that seems to be in the way is the very thing providing a way. Maybe.