As a write-at-home mommy, there are days when I would sit at the keyboard and be compelled to pound out rants like "where the fuck is my stapler?!??" with the kind of excessive punctuation that immediately signals weak writing.
After a few pithy sentences like that, I would be distracted by the need to find the missing stapler even if it means I have to toss the entire goddamn house. This will assume an importance all out of proportion to genuine necessity. (Paper clip?)
As a work-at-home mommy, I have produced journalism under conditions that Bob Woodward could not begin to imagine.
This does not always produce the finest journalism or the most competent parenting, but I like to think that if there were a Pulitzer category for Newsgathering With Toddlers, or the Best Telephone Interview Conducted While Diapering, I might have garnered at least an honorable mention.
My point is, I have learned to work through the inevitable distractions and interruptions. I learned a few tricks. I learned that I could live with the trade-offs between bad parenting and good journalism. (It is better to let your toddler eat an entire box of M&Ms than to fuck up an interview with the source who is never, ever going to speak to you again after you ask about the disciplinary proceedings.)
There was also bad housekeeping: M&Ms last longer if you spread them around the room.
Then, faster than you could say "Thank God It's Monday" came the school years, and up to five whole hours a day of working in relative peace.
This worked so well for a while that I was inspired to try writing fiction too. (I can do it all!)
And then They Grew Again.
They learned to use computers and office supplies. They figured out where I keep my box of Ridiculously Overpriced Pens That No One May Touch But Me. They learned how to change the screensaver on my laptop to monkey butts and Hannah Montana montages. They change the settings on things I have no idea how to change back. Why is my cursor shaped like a leprechaun? Why is the telephone ringing the Happy Birthday song? Their little handprints are everywhere. But the stapler is nowhere to be found.
Where the fuck is my stapler???
I need to staple a batch of short stories for a writing critique. I can't very well tape the pages together can I? Because there is no tape. The entire roll (along with most of an ink cartridge) has been used to create a Hannah Montana/High School Musical photo wall. Plus, for reasons no one will ever be able to explain, the dispenser has been disassembled and the little plastic piece that holds the tape roll is gone.
I have read Virginia Woolf. I know I should just kick them out. Declare the office Off Limits. Period. But then I see them in there printing out maps of the solar system and Facts About Tennessee and covering the desk with their crayons and glue sticks and scraps of construction paper and I fall for their promises. They will Never, Ever Again open the drawers without permission or take all of the paper out of the printer or touch my pens. They mean it.
Now if I could just find the stapler.