Yesterday I posted a link to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ video about creative breakthroughs. There were two comforting things about this video, which has stayed in my mind. One is that he may be able to write and think extraordinarily well, but he is just as nerdy and awkward as the rest of us. (This is the petty reassurance.) The other is the main point of the video clip, which is that to make breakthroughs you have to put yourself under huge pressure. He got the job as a writer for the Atlantic at the same time he was finishing up his memoir. That summer was enormously stressful, but he found himself writing things he didn’t know he could.
I’m still thinking about what he said, and I can apply it to the small scale. Every day that I have time to sit down and write, I’ve been making myself write 1,000 words. I hate it. I would rather be washing dishes or mowing the lawn; I’d rather be in Target the day before school starts. But the pressure of having to write all those words forces me to write something new. It’s not major ground-breaking stuff, but it is new to this work. I’m making connections and articulating ideas that I had not quite expressed before. This is good.
The triplet nephews are on their way back home to [location redacted] with their parents. Every time I see them I am reminded both why I am not a parent and what kind of parent I would be. (What kind of parent I would be is not necessarily why I am not a parent.) They are now old enough that I know how to deal with them. I played Battleship with one over breakfast this morning, and threw the ball for the dog(s) with one of the other ones. I have been irritated, cranky, and articulate about rules and whys and wherefores. If our greatest breakthroughs are made under pressure, then, by god, those of you who are parents must have amazing children.
Now I’m going to crawl back into my antisocial cave and finish today’s word count.
How do you deal with children if you’re a total misanthrope? How are you under pressure?