As I get deeper into this project and my essay writing, I continue to feel the push-pull between life and writing, the ways they interfere with each other and the ways they inform each other. My commitment to writing seems to have me perpetually negotiating for time, searching for it, grabbing up every free moment.
The writer Rachel Federman‘s response to my post Natural Rhythms got me thinking more about this when she wrote, “I somehow often feel I’m not fully grounded in the moment if not writing/thinking about it also. Or there is an interplay, that’s hard to achieve, being present, but also writing…”
My writing brain is always turned on, the internal narrator always present; me telling myself about what’s happening as it’s happening, processing moments into words, identifying fodder for the retelling. It sounds like distraction, but I think it’s actually a form of mindfulness and, as Rachel says, it fully grounds me in the moment. If I narrate as I experience, it means I’m paying very close attention.
Over and over again I notice the way my internal narrator is affected by my experiences as well as the media I consume. Input affects output. If I’m not mindful about the input, I can fall into distractions that are reflected in my writing. For instance, over-consumption of social media mucks up my output. Back when it was popular to post actual status updates on Facebook, as opposed to today’s memes/videos/quizzes/articles, I would find my brain capturing every day moments in soundbites similar to status updates. My narration was clipped. When I’m immersed in a book, my internal narrator speaks differently and tends toward long form.
There is also the distracting nature of motherhood, especially mothering a toddler, where everything happens in five-minute spurts. Unlike social media consumption, motherhood doesn’t interfere with my internal narrator’s voice–only the ability to get those thoughts down on the page before I lose them. There are some days I feel like my brain is in training, the same way I train on the treadmill, trying to increase my speed in short bursts, sometimes paying more attention to my form. Our brains are plastic, after all, capable of incredible malleability. During new motherhood especially, I swear I could almost feel my brain changing, taking in new information second to second, adjusting my response, meeting need after need, constantly adapting.
Input affects output. Writing informs motherhood informs running informs writing informs motherhood, and it loops and doubles back and loops again. As I become more mindful of the input, my output gains and grows. Instead of always feeling a nagging interference, I’m starting to feel the interplay.