Dad Again: the Positive Pressures of Fatherhood

When our son was born in February 2012, it sent seismic changes through our lives. Anyone with kids will tell you this - life on the other side is wholly different to what went before. Somehow the addition of one small person drains your days and your energy, leaving you with barely enough time to indulge in basic activities like eating or showering. To those without kids, it doesn't sound like that big a deal. To those of us who have become zombified by our offspring, it's possibly life's biggest game-changer.

And for some reason we're about to do it all over again. Our second son is due any day now, and with his arrival will come the same decimation of our free time. I recently did a short interview for The Good Men Project, in which we discussed what it was like being a stay-at-home dad, and how I managed to fit my writing and editing work in alongside something as overwhelming as parenting. The simple process of talking about my role as a father, and as a writer, set me to thinking about the funny ways the creative muse works. It's not quite what you might expect.

The plain fact is that I've been more productive as a father than I ever was before, despite having significantly less time to work in. Somehow the added pressure of the ticking clock has made me more ruthless, more dedicated, and more determined than ever. In the last two weeks, as we've waited for Boy #2 to arrive, I've written drafts of three (quite long) short stories - making it one of my most fertile writing periods in recent memory.

The same happened when our son was born three years ago - and not only before he arrived, either. Once he was with us, and we were enduring the sleepless nights, my focus changed, but I was still able to find time to write. In fact, I produced some of the work that I'm most proud of. My essay on Edward Lear's 'The Jumblies' is still among my favourites, and I think my tongue-in-cheek parenting lessons for The Nervous Breakdown hold up well too. I even managed a few short stories on the topic of fatherhood, including 'Mapreading', which appeared in both the online and the print editions of Spartan magazine, and 'The Claw' in ADP's Daddy Cool anthology.

It's for this reason that I'm anticipating the baby's arrival with hopeful enthusiasm. Life will be tough once he's here. We'll struggle to snatch moments of sleep, be vomited on, pissed on, shit on... and yet, somehow, that will only serve to feed my creative desire. There once was a time when I only wrote for myself. Now, I want to put down on paper something that my boys can one day be proud of. The future is almost with us.