creative writing community, craft and inspiration
On January 7 and 8, The Writers Circle held three Resolve to Write sessions facilitated by TWC Directors Judith Lindbergh (in South Orange) and Michelle Cameron (in Summit), and TWC instructor Lisa Romeo (in Montclair). Below Steph Auteri, who attended the Montclair event, shares her experiences and thoughts about getting her writing on track in 2017. This is the first part in a two-part series.
I wake up to the sound of my 2-year-old daughter, crying for her vitamin and for her dinosaur books, crying to get up. I roll out of bed and pull her out of her crib, letting her follow me around as I pee, take my vitamins, brush my teeth, use my mouth wash. And then there is her diaper, her clothes, her teeth. I carry her downstairs and leave her on the kitchen floor, gnawing on a bagel, so I can shower in peace. Then—while running back and forth between my bathroom and my bedroom and my computer so I can attend to some work-related emails—I get dressed, dry my hair, chug a cup of coffee, and layer the both of us up, hustling her out the door so we can attend story time at the library, where we listen to the travails of the hungry caterpillar and sing “The Wheels on the Bus” and do crafts.
When I walk back through my front door, the first thing I notice is the cat puke on the living room floor. I de-layer us. I hang up our coats and hats. I carry my daughter upstairs and place her in her crib because she has asked for a nap and there is no way in hell I’m arguing with that. Then I trudge back downstairs and get down on my hands and knees with paper towels and Clorox Wipes and clean up the puke.
I pour myself a second cup of coffee.
When I finally sit my butt down at my computer, it is 10:50 a.m.
I clench my hands into fists and try not to think of the hours wasted. I see the line of unopened emails, the hundreds of tweets, the items in my news feed, the unread conversation threads on Slack. And then, because I wrote it down on my Goal Setting contract the day before as a thing I could do to benefit my writing, I do the thing I have never done before.
I close my browser.
It seems small, but it is enormous. If you don’t believe me, you should know that—while writing this small recap of Lisa Romeo’s Resolve to Write workshop in Montclair—I unthinkingly moved my mouse to my browser icon four times. And I thought about opening my browser approximately eleventy billion additional times. If I only stick to this one resolution, the impact on my productivity will be huge. But I left Lisa’s workshop with a whole lot more than this.
Lisa managed to pack a lot into a mere two hours. A writing prompt exercise. Writerly fantasizing. Group brainstorming. A ton of worksheets. (God I love worksheets.) For me—someone who often feels so scattered, she doesn’t know where to begin even when there is time—one of the most valuable exercises lay in filling out a worksheet about how I spend my time: the social media; the household chores; the social obligations; the motherly responsibilities. “Everybody has something that lures them,” said Lisa, before systematically going through the entire list and offering up means with which to combat each and every one of those excuses. “You decide what you can get rid of,” said Lisa. “The writing time’s not going to be there until you give it to yourself.”
At the end of the day, Lisa passed around the contracts. We listed out our three primary goals for our writing this year. The three obstacles that existed for meeting those goals. The things we could do in order to surmount those obstacles. The things we promised ourselves we would achieve in the next week, the next six months, the next year.
We flipped the contracts over. We signed and dated them, acting as each other’s witnesses.
When we walked to our cars, I think we were all ready to kick some serious writing butt.