(Frustrated) Writer in Residence


Last evening, Chicken Noodle asked for some time with my computer. Having exhausted my abuse of it for the day, I obliged. After all, she’s seven now. From what I’ve seen of her writing she might make better use of the thing than me.

I left her to her craft. Ten minutes of silence. Then wailing.

I returned to my office to see her crumpled in my chair, sobbing with vehemence and anger.

On the screen were these words:

The scarf

A poem

By Libby Mae Findling

A decent start. But now, tears. “The letters are wrong! I don’t know what to do! What are those squiggly lines? Why does my L look that way? What if I don’t know how to spell things? What will it look like when I’m done? What if no one reads it? What if no one likes it?”

Ah, the crux of it. At seven.

Insert here much writerly/motherly cajoling about how what matters is not how it looks, just getting the words down, thinking your own thoughts and recording them, who cares what anyone else thinks, I can’t wait to see what you write, we’ll fix the font later, Mommy will love whatever you write, I’m so proud of you, someone fix me a double vodka martini, etc.

To no consolation. She hurtled playgrum some incomprehensible existential misery at me. I left to make dinner. If it wasn’t too much to bear, or too close to home, I’d have thought she was Hemingway reincarnated, and searched the desk drawers for whiskey and pistols on my way out.

Ten minutes of silence. Then wailing. I returned to the artist’s space.

On the screen was this:

The magic scarf

A book

By Libby Mae Findling

Once upon a time

Modest improvements. But still. “I can’t do it!” she sobbed. “I can’t! It’s too hard! I want you to write it! I’m bad at this! I’ll never be a writer!”

I feel your pain, girlfriend. Been there. Will be there again.

At this point, I called in Captain Daddy for back up. Code 3. Patient agitated, hyperventilating. Possible anxiety attack. He coerced her from the room with firefighter tough love and macaroni and cheese.

At dinner, when it felt safe to venture in again:

“What’s your story about, Noodle?”

No hesitation.

“A boy. He’s going to this adventure thing but he trips in this hole and falls into a fuzzy tree. And a baby bird falls out of its nest and he says where am I and then there’s some magic stuff.”

Wow. I want to read that. Stay tuned as I figure out how to nurture a first grader past a wicked case of writer’s block.


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