Stuttering to a Start: Life Shortly Before 40
This article was originally published on davidnwaeze.com on July 11,2021
I have been behind in my writing. To be honest, I’ve always been very inconsistent in keeping up with my writing output. This has been true in terms of personal journaling, school work, keeping in touch with friends, and many other contexts. There are many reasons for this. Part of it has to do with terrible time management — a failing that I’ve almost inevitably carried over into the early fatherhood. Part of it has to do with fear of moving forward and putting myself down on the page. Part of my problem is that I’m much more comfortable planning, mapping, and thinking about what I would like to write than actually sitting the hell down and writing. These last two problems are the bane of plenty of writers and constitute a perfectly normal writer’s curse. I am slowly but surely trying to catch up. It’s not easy. But here I am, anyway.
When the central focus of my life shifted over to parenting a small child, I learned really quickly how easy it is to drop nearly all of the many juggling balls life demands one keep up in the air. Like anyone struggling to dance the ADHD two-step — step one: remember to start, step two: remember to finish — I knew it was easy. I just hadn’t fully realized just how easy it could be. It frequently feels as though there are matters of care for and safety of my daughter, which absolutely require attending to, and everything else is of a much lower priority. Except that it isn’t like that at all. Care for my marriage, care for myself, and care for the life matters around us are absolutely necessary in order to maintain even those chief parenting priorities. I’ve been very patient with myself in my attempts to figure everything out. Perhaps a little too patient.
If I’m to rise above my fear of putting myself on the page, I have to address all of this as well. Like all early writers, whether absolute or false beginners, the struggle to find one’s voice is a difficult challenge overcome. Right now, that fight is, for me, one I’m waging as much in my writing as in every other part of my life, as I just try to make the day-to-day pieces fit. I’m learning a lot in this process. I’m learning to rethink my limits and to reassess what there is time for and how to make time for the things that matter. Most importantly, I’m learning that I absolutely must keep the process moving forward. I owe it to myself. I owe it to Riva. I owe it to Batya. As regards my writing in particular, I owe it to the version of myself I wish to become to work out this process.
Writing, like much else in life, is a series of evolutions. By practice and piecemeal change, the writer moves from one phase of their process to another and to another until they’ve adapted in the ways they need to fulfill their niche — or die off in the attempt. All the planning, mapping, and thinking about what I would like to do — from day to day, week to week, month to month — is meaningless without this same process of practice and adaptation. I can experiment in my head with all of the hypotheticals I can dream of. I can aim to shoot every moon of every planet in the galaxy. I can understand perfectly the abstract idea of what I want to do. Until I start moving forward with each step and with each task in the journey ahead, though, all of this is utterly meaningless. My growth as a husband, a father, and a writer depend on this.
And so, I’m moving forward — day by day, week by week, month by month. I do not know what comes next, but I’m happy to take the chance and put it down on the page in front of me and then those that follow. In the meantime, I’ve got a few things on many burners, which I think are pretty cool. Some of it is ridiculously challenging. Some of it is really mundane. Some of it is entertaining, some pragmatic. I won’t bore anyone with the details here. When I put in the work, I’ll have something to show for it, and that’s what matters. I want to keep the blogs going. They are a teasing challenge for me to put up content for. I need that in my life in order to have something to test my ingenuity and resilience against — on top of the more immediate stuff of life. I also want to seek out more like-minded people to create community and interesting work with. A challenge for any early parent, let alone during a pandemic.
I am 38, and in some ways, I’m repeating the anxieties of adolescence, wanting to know how to follow my dreams and pursue parts of my life that seem to be stuttering to a start. I have full faith and confidence that I can get there, but growth can be a slow and painful process. My hope is to keep growing, to keep learning, and to keep adapting on my path to becoming the husband, father, and writer I’m trying to be.