Six months ago today, my beautiful son Porter was born. In the pantheon of Great Events in my lifetime, it’s probably the greatest, with the moment I said my vows to my wife a close second. (Third through tenth place? Asking my wife to marry me, opening night of LET X, the first time I served my whole family Thanksgiving dinner in my new house, and… well, I guess it’s a long list. What can I say? I’m lucky. Anyway, back to my sweet son…) So, for six months now, I’ve been trying to reinvent myself as a playwright: not artistically, mind you, but practically. I’ve had to learn how to be both a playwright and a father.
People have begun to ask me how being a father has changed my work; every time they ask, it seems as if they’re suggesting that I’m suddenly going to start telling more innocent stories, or even writing children’s plays. I’ve adapted Grimm’s fairy tales twice now, but if any of you managed to see LICKED at Rorschach Theatre, you understand how far my work stray from what anyone would reasonably consider children’s fare. The odds of me doing that kind of work any time soon are slim. (Though who knows?)
For the most part, being a father has made me have to adapt to working in smaller and smaller stretches of time. Whereas I used to have five days a week, five or six hours in a row, to write, I’ve now got maybe two or three almost-as-good days like that in a week, plus a few other random one- or two-hour chunks of time. The space I had—literally and in my head—for daydreaming? Disappeared. I’ve got no choice, really, but to dive right into whatever story I’m telling, because at any given moment I might be called upon for, say, changing a diaper.
The thing is: it’s probably too early to tell for sure, but I think this is actually a good thing. I think I’d gotten a bit lazy about my writing. I took the leisurely pace I was able to set for granted. I mean, I’ve always been a disciplined writer: I write five or six days a week—almost every week of my life, save for vacations — and I always have, for decades now. (Not exaggerating…) This, however, is taking me to a new level. I get started more quickly, I dive into my work more cleanly, and I get out quickly, too.
In other words, I have yet another reason to be grateful for my son’s birth. This little man who’s given me so much already, for whom I am so thankful, is making me a better, more energized writer than I’ve ever been. So thank you, Porter, and happy half-year birthday.