When my daughters were little, I used to sneak into the bathroom with my writing pad and lock the door. I'd put down the toilet seat (somebody had to do it), and get comfortable. In short order, a switch would flip in my brain and I'd pour my inky prose onto page after page of a budding novel.
It started when I was a kid, really. I knew my father spent a lot of time in the can reading (or hiding from his six children), and I began reading in there too. Writing was a natural extension of this meditative refuge and became vitally important after I became a mom. Why? Maybe I felt safe or sheltered enough to relax and let my thoughts flow. Maybe I knew my time in there was limited; I do work best under deadlines. Maybe I thought, if I'm going to write crap, I'm in the perfect place. But it wouldn't be long before the clamoring of my rugrats would swell outside the door.
Child #1: Mom, what are you doing in there?Inevitably, I'd see small fingers wiggle under the door and hear a gaggle of giggles as prying eyes strained to peek at my feet. Sammy, our fat and feisty family feline, would meow plaintively. Georgie, our Shih Tzu, would sniff the space under the door so loudly, it echoed off the bathroom walls. It's like when they see a closed door, their little kidlet adrenaline starts pumping. Since the beginning of time, this instinctual behavior has served to warn copulating cave couples that the dinosaurs were fast approaching and the continuance of the human race depended on getting the future copulators the hell out of the way.
Me: What do you think I'm doing?
Child #2: Are you crapping?
Child #3: Shhhh! That's a bad word.
Child #2: Are you still going to the bathroom?
Child #1: Gawd!
(Clears throat) Back to the can . . . With monsters at the door, my concentration broken, and my pen poised rigidly over an unsatisfied pad, I'd grit my teeth. My writing flow would dam up, and just when I was getting to the good part! What invariably followed was the rustling and grunting one hears at a varsity wrestling match. This was the usual banter:
Me: Girls! Did you clean your rooms?The rough-housing and giggling would eventually fade away, and when I was satisfied that I once again had the can to myself, I'd delve back into my thickening plot. Oh, this is going to be so good! I'd think. Readers are going to eat this up! I'm going to be on the bestseller lists soon!
All in unison: Yes!
Me (so much for diversionary tactics): Then go play. I'll be out in a minute.
Child #1: That's what you said ten minutes ago.
Child #2: Yeah, and ten minutes before that.
Child #3: And an hour before that!
Me: Go . . . play! I . . . will . . . be . . . out . . . when . . . I'm . . . done!
Bang, bang, bang.
Child #4: Mom, there's a giant hairy spider out here!Sam was known to torture exoskeleton types, usually to his peril.
Me (exhaling soundly): Has it eaten anyone?
Child #4: He's looking at Sam.
Child #4: Mo-o-om! Sam's going to get bit and have to go to the hospital and get dead!I would toss my pen and pad on the tile and bid farewell to my muse, while realizing that I'd sat there so long, my thighs had gone numb. I'd flush for good measure (and to reinforce the charade) and unlock the door to an audience of six -- four grinning kids plus pets, not including any giant spiders. Little devils had tricked me once again into abandoning my post!
Me (lips bunched together): Christ. I'm coming.
These days, I don't normally have to hide out to get writing done, but when I'm stressed and the creative juices just won't flow, I wonder if my muse could benefit from a good canning. Once upon a time, I wrote probably half a book in there. Then again, since that manuscript still sits unpublished, maybe it really was crap after all.