Being a 'writer', you'd think I'd enjoy 'writing' more than I do. You'd think I'd jump at the chance to 'write' a 'blog' (whatever the devil that word means).
But writing for a blog is torture. Not only do you have to produce something pertinent and cohesive, you must do it on a regular basis. And if you have read my broken nose of a novel, Bust It Like a Mule, you know my writing is neither pertinent nor cohesive, and certainly not regular.
I suppose in order to have a blog and post with regularity, one must be organized, which I am not. I write in 15 minute manic bursts here and there, and sometimes in large blocks of time when the family is either (a) asleep or (b) not trying to kill one another. My writing takes place in between doing the dishes and my real job, after the kids are in bed, before and after taking out the trash, raking the yard, planting trees, chasing children, when the business of running a household not unlike Mr Banks is finished, on lunchbreaks and in the shower (?). I'd like to say that when life settles down, and I am less busy, this will change, and I'll have tons of time to just sit around and Hemingway it up for endless hours of uninterrupted imagination stimulating bliss. But deep in my guts I know better. My first novel was written in short spurts and took me 2.5 years to finish - in between 2 jobs at one time, 2 babies being born, losing a job, gaining another, selling a house, moving, living...
Life will never settle down. I will always write in frenetic crazed manic outbursts as I am now, with shouting, running children a swirling chaos about me, my wife playing fiddle or the guitar in the background.
And in truth - I wouldn't change this for the world.
You see, last night, while I was desperately hacking out an unfinished short story about an American bison in imminent peril, my 8 year old son Tennessee came downstairs (after he'd already been tucked in several times) to inform his mother and I that he could not sleep, and we were like 'too bad', but he kept on and on so while I tried to type this damn story about a stupid buffalo that doesn't have an ending yet until I write it, cripes kid, cant you see I'm trying to write a great American short story here??? And then all the sudden my wife says to the boy "How about daddy comes up and tells you a story" and I look away from my brilliant buffalo story to glare at her and she smiles sheepishly, shrugs, and gives me the under the chin finger wave.
My beloved son, excited at the prospect, runs back up the stairs. He was so excited that I felt like a real ass of a dad being so withholding and joycrushing, so I with heavy tread followed him upstairs, wondering what story I was going to tell him, because my brainhole was already jammed up with a story about a buffalo who may or may not die, AND I DON'T KNOW HOW IT ENDS.
I came up to the son's room where he had tucked himself up to his chin in comfy covers, his eyes gleaming expectantly. The light was low from the hall, and his younger brother, 5 year old Waylon, was dead asleep in the bunk below. Looking at Tennessee, I wondered if I should tell a standard story ( a tale about his cousins and their pet dragon 'Flavershavum'), or a realist tale like his mother likes to tell him (once there was a boy who wouldn't go to sleep), or a nonsensical the likes of which he is very fond ( a skeleton cant find a job until he finds his own kind in the cemetery). None of these seemed right. Stalling for time, I leaned my arms on the rail of the top bunk. Tennessee looked at me. He knew. He knew I was stalling, and a quizzical look played upon his sweet face in the bedtime light, a look that said "Does dad NOT have a story to tell?? Impossible! How can this be??" And I admit it was this look that goaded me on to open my mouth and utter the words of which I knew not what, for I would be damned if my son were to doubt that his father had a story, his father who always has a story, dad always has a story about everything, man, you can't get the guy to shut up, so I spake forth words unknown even to me until they sprang forth:
"There once was a buffalo "
EVEN THOUGH I WASN'T SURE WHAT THE END WAS.
It was a great trial of faith for father and son, a trial the likes not seen since Abraham and Isaac. I, on one hand, telling him my new tale in child's parlance (yet not too dumbed down, for children are children, but they aint dumb) that had no ending. He, instantly giggling with disbelief that I was telling him in histrionic tones of a buffalo. And yet, as we looked at one another, we had a mutual understanding that this was a story, bygod, and it was going to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Tennessee's infinite faith in me the storyteller, his dad, and in stories in general, rallied my soul to the point that this tale of the bison stretched on and on and on as my son's eyes grew wide and he hid his face at times. I put parts into the tale that weren't yet written down, and as I did this, I took mental notes - 'Oh, that's a good idea', 'Why didn't I think of that before?', 'Yes, of course, the buffalo's sons!' By the time I reached the middle of the tale and headed into the end I realized I ACTUALLY HAD AN END, I had an end to the tale of the bison that I had been writing, I had an end because I was telling it to my son!
When the epic tale of the American bison had been told, and the words 'the end' spoken, Tennessee rolled over contentedly and fell asleep. I quietly went downstairs and told Jenny Anne "I have an end to my story", and she smiled. Then we went and watched tv and I still haven't finished the end of the bison story but it is in my head, and hey, if I forget it, I can always go ask Tennessee how it goes.
All this to say, forgive me for my terrible blog writing habits. It's just that I am trying to put the kids to bed or do the dishes or take someone to dance or watch television with my wife, or heaven forbid, WRITE THE END TO A BYGOD STORY.
PS - I wrote this blog post instead of finish the bison story. The end.