Fatherhood and writing go together surprisingly well. Requiring nothing more tool-like than a standard computer and an internet connection, I can write while my offspring is at school, in bed, or momentarily distracted by my shoulders as an interesting place to sit while I’m hunched over my keyboard desperately trying to catch the tail of the deadline that just went whooshing by.
The more journalistic aspects of the job (actually having to go places to see things) can be a bit of a drag, but one that Stella (my five-year-old daughter and reluctantly functional collaborator), has come to accept when she must with a roll of her eyes (duplicates of my own, down to their propensity to roll) and a request of payment for her part of the job, which is to be patient for an a foreordained time and not to act too noticeably bored. Any violation of the contract on my part, staying too long for example, results in an immediate scowl, accompanied by slumped shoulders and a refusal to negotiate any further.
Breeding is one of those aspects of life that effects each of us on such a profound level its difficult to speak about how it has changed my practice as a writer. Small things are notable, such as denting my workaholicishness, its curtailing my tendency to malinger overlong at work-related fetes with concomitant open-bars, and an increased likelihood of impromptu dance parties. but outlining the bigger changes are a bit trickier.
Let's say gravity suddenly shifted a little making everyone a little bit lighter. It would likely make the news circuit for a while and make movers and other professional lifters particularly happy. But after the scientists had explained again and again why it happened and all the potential story lines had been exhausted by newspapers and television pundits, religious zealots and idle conversationalists (“How about that gravity?”), we would accept it, perhaps with a individual joy all our own. Which is to say, even though a slight shift in gravity on Earth literally changes everything on our home planet, after awhile we’d adjust. Occasionally we might think back to the days before gravity changed with wonder and even nostalgia, but we’d know that everything being lighter is just better on one of those annoyingly and truistically difficult-to-communicate levels and continue with the practice of everyday life, with appropriate changes to this new state of lightness. Parenting for me is something like this.
Stella, my functional collaborator, when asked what else I should add, replied simply with a request (hereby granted) that I stop working.