For the longest time I wrote like I was digging coal. I dragged myself down a long, dark, narrow tunnel – knees and back aching – then hunkered there and chipped out words, key by key, until my muscles froze and my eyes watered. Why? Because writing is my profession and work is supposed to be hard, dull, painful, repetitive. Right?
This produced reliable copy but little joy. Who said writing has to be fun?
Then I visited my sister and watched her with her friend’s little girl. Baby is 16 months old, a blur of chubby limbs and petal-pink cheeks, blue eyes the approximate size of balloon lanterns and two tiny cornsilk tufts of hair sprouting from the top of her head, gripped at the bottom by pink rubber bands. Her name is Domino. Her emotions are transparent as Lucite and as inextricably bound to her physical state as the tide is to the moon. When she is fed, rested and digesting comfortably, Domino is pure sunshine. Tiredness crosses her like a cloud, generating damp squalls until she can be cajoled into relinquishing wakefulness for an hour or two.
I watched Dom-Dom and my sister move through a dance of hours involving breakfast, nap, snack, play, diaper change, lunch, a turn in the garden to check the state of the unripe cherries and little green plums, another nap, more snacks. Baby was the music, the steps choreographed to ensure a harmony of need and response.
What would it be like, I wondered, to be a child again – to eat when I’m hungry, sleep when I’m tired, and explore when I’m curious?
Scolding voices rushed into my head: Don’t be silly. Don’t be self-indulgent. You’re a grown-up. Get to work.
But another voice – rebellious, questioning, mine – asked: If babies thrive on love, attention, comfort, and having their needs met, why wouldn’t I? When and why did I decide that work should be suffering?
I thought of Ray Bradbury’s words: “I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy.”
The idea! Not crawling down a shaft in my mind to hack darkly at the keyboard but – what? – walking upright? Running? Dancing?
You Write! Picture yourself writing joyously. Describe the scene in detail: location, objects, sounds, smells… share in the comments!