Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Writer's Bubble

A lot of people work from home, writers especially. And most writers, like me, don’t have a designated office. I’m lucky, I have a small desk.  In the kitchen. Not the most likely place for quiet. I’ve always written in the kitchen—it’s easier to make sure no one burns down the house when you’re nearby.

Non-writers ask how do you do it. How do you write without quiet time? (I homeschooled my kids, so there was never any quiet time when they were “away.”) And though two of my kids are in college now and one is taking dual enrollment classes, they still live at home—noise and chaos still reign. The writers’ secret is the bubble. Though other writers call it other things. It’s an enveloping creativity that isolates you from the rest of the world. My kids made up the term “bubble.” They use it like this, “Mom’s in her bubble. She’s gone.” And that’s what it’s like. I am physically present, but my mind is wholly in my novel. I’m seeing and hearing people that exist only in the confines of my imagination.

So the bubble is great for writing. It’s not so great for being a mom. When my children were little, they took full advantage of it. For example, I’d emerge from the bubble to find myself dripping sweat in January. I’d check the thermostat. It was set at ninety. When I asked my minions who’d changed the thermostat from my favored setting of 67, Jacob said, “I asked you if I could turn up the temperature to 90, and you said yes.” The downside of the bubble. When I’m in the bubble, I apparently (I’m still highly suspicious about this because I have no memory of any of these conversations) give permission for all kinds of ridiculous things. Yes, you may play computer games for the rest of your life. Yes, you may gorge yourself on candy until your face turns green. Yes, you may watch DVDs until your eyeballs melt.

Obviously, this is why I work near the kitchen. My hope is working there was if I ever gave the children permission to start a fire on the stove (don’t laugh, Jacob once told me he was building a bomb—he was little, but still), I’d be there to douse the fire with an extinguisher. But the niggling thought in the back of my mind was “What if I didn’t notice?” I’d love to explain that to the fire chief.
He’d say, “Mrs. Keller, do you know anything about the fire?”

I’d say, “Uh, yes, I was in the kitchen and didn’t notice that the children were playing with matches and torches, re-enacting scenes from National Treasure.”

He’d say, “They told me that you gave them permission.”

I’d say, “Oh. Really?”

I’m so glad that my children made it to adulthood in one piece. 


  1. I've been there. My husband, I think, uses it for his advantage. He'll say things like, "We discussed it, just because you don't remember agreeing with me..." Yeah, it gets annoying. I'm home-schooling my son too and so it's a bit hectic here too.

  2. I know the bubble. I've been there. But I'm not there now and I'd sure like to be. Glad to hear your kids came out okay. :)

  3. Ah, this is probably exactly what I'll be like (I don't have kids yet)! I go into a bubble too, and apparently I have whole conversations with my husband that I don't remember!

  4. I have a lot of respect for writers who have kids. I have a hard enough time doing it with no kids. Keep up the great work!!