I don’t talk to my family about my writing process much, unless I’m discussing publication/business details with The Beard. They don’t have the same investment in my characters and plot lines that I do. I grew tired of saying things like, “Remember when Sebastian does this? I’m going to do this in the sequel.” I’d receive a lukewarm, “Who is that? What did he do?” That’s okay, but it makes for one more layer of isolation in a writer’s day. This also leads to the invisibility of what I actually do as a writer. Teaching provided a concrete situation they could quantify as my job.

 When I was teaching they rarely asked me for help, input or advice on school work. It bothered me as an English teacher and a writer because obviously they weren’t accessing valuable resources. It shouldn’t matter that I’m their mother. Yeah, right.

Son 2 is in a Creative Writing class and aside from the pending assignments, we’ve not discussed his work. This morning on the drive to school, he asked me about scene work. He needed help framing a scene in the larger scope of his novella. A lengthy conversation about character development, plot movement and themes followed. I felt invigorated.

After our discussion petered out, he concluded, “Writing is exciting and terrible at the same time! It’s complicated and frustrating. There’s so much to keep track. Now I have to go back and revise. I have to change dialog and weave this stuff together.”

“I hope I helped and didn’t make it more difficult.” I chuckled.

“You did both. This is hard!” He complained.

After asking him to keep both hands on the wheel, I replied. “Now you know what I do all day, every minute, even when I’m not actually putting words on paper.”

“It must be noisy in your head.” He said.

“You have no idea.” I said.

He drove in silence the rest of the way. At school, he hopped out of the Jeep with a far away look.

“Hey,” I called. “You need your backpack and I love you too.”

Coming back, he said, “Oh yeah, love you. Have a good day.” He grabbed his tea and backpack still distracted.

I empathize with him. I move through my world in the same perpetual state of thought. Characters clamor. Plot details gel. New scenes emerge. Mostly at inopportune moments, but I try to hang onto those juicy tidbits. The writer’s conundrum, at least in this zoo, is feed the animals or get the words on paper. Funny enough, there’s at least one animal in the household with considerably more empathy and understanding.

He’ll likely forget it the next time he’d like me to do something for him. Gotta take the wins when you can.