Grindstone Cowboy

I seem to be in danger of becoming one of those bloggers who, you know, doesn’t actually update his blog on a regular basis. What the hell is wrong with me? I’ll bet you can guess. Let’s all say it together: “I have no time to write.”

Sadly, this does indeed seem to be the case, at least lately. The Peanut is approaching her five month mark, and just when the Missus and I think we’ve got this parenting shit down to a science, our offspring makes another developmental leap and screws us up all over again. Recent occurrences include such milestones as rolling from her tummy onto her back (a hilarious and weirdly touching sight), the beginning of the teething phase (decidedly less hilarious) and reaching out for random objects — for example, the catalog that Mommy’s holding while the baby sits in her lap — and stuffing them into her mouth. When the Peanut is sitting on my leg and we’re talking gibberish to one another, an experience that occasionally seems to resemble one of my more awkward prodco meetings, I experience a profound happiness that I previously never believed to be possible without illicit substances or religious brainwashing.

Unfortunately, a more active and interactive Peanut keeps me away from my computer for even longer stretches than before. I’m lucky if I have twenty minutes to work on the rewrite of the Apatow Rip-Off, which I’d hoped to finish in time for the tracking board contest and completely and utterly failed to do so. The get-up-at-4:50-with-the-wife-and-write plan is still in effect — unless the Peanut wakes up around that time, in which case it becomes the get-up-at-4:50-and-take-care-of-the-kid plan. A Thanksgiving trip to visit the in-laws in San Diego — traditionally one of my most creatively fertile periods of the year — yielded exactly zero pages this time around. Being stuck in the third quarter of Act II hasn’t helped, either: for the past two weeks, the little time I’ve spent at the keyboard mostly involved A) staring blankly at the screen, B) occasionally trying out and then promptly discarding ideas that I’ll charitably describe as half-baked, and/or C) writing vicious hate mail to myself, then deleting it before the Missus could read some of it and hide the knife block in the kitchen.

I now understand why pro writers often seem to take long stretches of time off for their families. Part of me feels like going on hiatus to let the well refill and enjoy the first year of my daughter’s life without the burden of shoehorning in writing time. I’m not going to do that, of course. The fact is, I’m not getting any younger — I’m rapidly approaching the age range in which most guys settle into whatever profession they’re going to toil in until they hit retirement, and here I am, on a career track to nowhere. Screenwriting is pretty much the only existential “Get Out of Jail Free” card I have to play at this point, which compounds my frustration when circumstances prevent me from putting in the time and effort I need to make my professional aspirations a reality.

I have to keep my nose to the grindstone, even if it ends up shearing off my face.

(Coda: The Missus made me promise to be more cheerful in my next post.)

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7 Comments on “Grindstone Cowboy”

  1. K. Says:

    Don’t worry my blog is just one big miserable spew.

    I’m in a similar situation to you at the moment with not being productive but I have all the free time in the world and can’t seem to use is it properly, which is really bad! I’m getting nothing done and everything seems pretty half-baked too. I have a ton of shit to complete and can’t get the words to materialize .
    .
    Hopefully this image will cheer you up:

  2. William Says:

    Yeah, I hear ya. This is when it’s going to get tough. The boy is starting to get curious and he doesn’t like sitting as much. Before you could just put him in anything and he would sit and gaze in wonder.

    Now he just wants to smack daddy in the face and laugh.

  3. WriterDad Says:

    K — truly, nothing can raise a man’s spirits like a photo of Axl with a kangaroo. 🙂 Thanks.

    William — yup, my little one is definitely beginning that stage. On the one hand, it’s amazing to watch her develop into a little person, complete with her own personality… but it sure makes home life more complicated.

  4. Désirée Says:

    I’m a writer with little kids too. It IS difficult to do things that the kids cannot be a part of. At least when they are small. My guess is that when they are big enough to don’t bother mommy while she is writing, I’ll long for them to be with me. So I’ll try to spend as much time with them as I can and let other things be – for now. What ever time I have on my own I try to write.

    Enjoy your little girl and take care of the moment.

    Remember that a blog is a great place to keep up the writing habit, so don’t be afraid to write on the blog instead of a current project unless deadline is closing in.

  5. WriterDad Says:

    Desiree — thanks for the encouragement. I expect (and hope) things will mellow out as the Peanut becomes more self-sufficient. I just have to hang in that long! It’s funny — I started the blog as an alternate outlet for my writing… but as time grows more precious, I realize that if I have time to blog, I should be working on a script instead. But it’s nice to interact with fellow scribes (and occasionally vent) via the blog, so I keep trying to find that elusive balance…

  6. Tim Says:

    J:
    I’ve got two words for you…exer saucer. Wait, that is probably one word. Your kid will dig it. don’t pay any attention to the experts that say it’ll give your kid scoliosis. All rumors. both my kids turned out fine and they spent many a writing hour in it. Well, at least they’re fine on the scoliosis front…

  7. WriterDad Says:

    Tim — we actually decided to get the kid a Baby Einstein jumper instead of the exer saucer. Problem is, she’s a LITTLE too underdeveloped so far to really get into it. But man, I’m waiting for the day when I can plunk her in it and she can entertain herself for a stretch while I get some work done…


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