Writing

Write right now

Hidden Message In A Book

I was reading The Courage To Write by Ralph Keyes when I stumbled upon this little gem;

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I love finding surprises and this little note was odd, yet reassuring. And yes I do feel strange at times.

I’m a mother of three trying to find my way. I’ve always been a bit of a loner, going against the grain of what society expects from me.  I’m a homebirthing, homeschooling mother. My choices make some people uncomfortable. My husband and I have had to answer endless questions, steeled ourselves for ignorant retorts, prayed that the people who really mattered would embrace our decisions. At this wonderful time of year, full of hope and blessings, I can say we are completely happy and at peace with all the decisions we’ve made in our life.

Do people think I’m strange? Maybe. I don’t mind.

I’m a mother of three trying to find some semblance of a writing life, while teaching my children it’s ok to be different. Be strange.  Live your life your way.  Seeing this sweet little note made me smile. I’m not the only strange one out there. I’m glad I’m not alone.

Poetry Is A Meal For the Heart

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins reads his poem, “The Lanyard.”  Even though the audience is laughing at times, I read this poem in his book Aimless Love and felt a twinge in my heart, knowing full well I can never repay my own mother, all the while realizing my own children will be at this same crux later in life. This is a powerful poem skillfully presenting the mother-child bond.

Every Writer Does This, Right?

Photo: Abhi Sharma

Photo: Abhi Sharma

I am a writer.  Often I’m off in my own little world, lost in thought, thinking up fantastic prose while I’m standing in the shower, nary a pen or dry paper in sight.  Currently I have 135 books checked out from my local library.  The last time I visited, it took three large canvas bags to carry all my books back to my car.  My husband jokes that the library wants their library back.  I write, I read.  Okay, more like I read, I read, I read, I read way too much, and I write sometimes.  I need a T-shirt that says I’d Rather be Reading. 

I have a quirk though that I naively assume all writers have.  I inspect the book I’m about to read.  It’s a bit like foreplay for bookworms.  First I have to read the author’s bio in the back of the book.  There must be a picture.  I need a face with the name.  No author picture makes me cranky.  Next, I read the acknowledgments.  I think it’s a tiny peek behind the velvet curtain.  You get a feel for who the author is, whether it’s serious and lengthy or short and light-hearted.  Jenny Offill promised a pony to her editorial staff at Knopf.  That made me love her before I’d read one single word of her novel.

Next I read the back cover for blurbs or whatever goodness the publisher has decided to grace us with.  I might skim the inside flap to get a feel for what I’m about to delve into, but mostly I like to be surprised.  A peek at the first few pages and then it’s time to read.  What about you?  What are your book reading rituals?

Procrastination Is A Bitch

I was recently approached by an editor asking me to submit a story. She thought her readers would be interested in what I had to say. Today my oldest is in school (I miss her) and my husband is off work, running errands with the other littles. I’m alone in this quiet house, sitting in front of the computer, coffee in hand and instead of writing the piece, I check Facebook, chat with a fellow mom from school, check email, download pictures, visit a few blog pages for inspiration and wonder if I should mop the floor while everyone is gone.

Get it done girl! This is your chance to take advantage of peace and quiet. But I’m terrified, to put it mildly. What if I suck? What if they laugh at what I submit? Who cares what I have to say? I don’t sound academic enough. The discouraging voice in my head goes on and on, spewing negative words, causing me to doubt myself at every turn.

So this post stands as my motivation. I’m going to finish the work, forcing myself to do what is uncomfortable and uneasy. I think of my daughter, so nervous about her first day of school today. She cried, she didn’t want to go, she wanted to stay home where it is safe and predictable. Today I will stand in solidarity with her, stepping out of the safe and predictable, off to my first day of school, looking over my shoulder with tears in my eyes, but when I walk in that building baby, I hold my head up high. It’s a new day. Let’s do this.

I’d Say I’ve Been Busy, But That Is Such A Cliche

lake

It has been a busy summer for our family, it seems the weeks flew by and here we are again at the start of a new school year. My writing life has suffered due to hot, lazy days spent outside in the sun or running around busy, busy, busy trying to make it a memorable summer. I put so much pressure on myself to make it fun, full of activities and experiences and not a second wasted. I made a summer fun list of things to do and see. I ended up with 31 items; going to the spray park, the zoo, art museums and horse farms, picking berries, camping, visiting the bookstore, the children’s theatre and catching a butterfly show. I accomplished exactly half of what was on my list and that’s ok. Looking back, I’ve had the best time with my kids, spending time together as a family, relaxed and unscheduled, just the way I like it. Parts of our summer list will carry over into fall, like picking apples and going to the local farmers market, visiting the planetarium and the natural history museum and more parks and playgrounds.

With kids there is always more to do, to see, to experience. I’ve been busy, and so have you right? Yet here we are; me writing, you reading and the summer spins out its last days before our kids file back into school. The streets will be quiet. My house will fall still. And my writing life will once again come to life. My lists however will not stop. I will accumulate and cross out and add until once again our story will be recorded on the bright blue page hanging in the kitchen. Things to do. It never ends. Yet, this is the stuff memories are made of. This is life, the thick of it, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Writer Inside, Writer Outside

I’ve been cramming in the reading this week. My bookshelves overflow with library books. I have over 100 books checked out. I thought that number sounded ridiculously high and decided I’d better start reading so the library doesn’t think I’m a book hoarder. (I am.) I just finished When Women Were Birds, Fifty-Four Variations on Voice by Terry Tempest Williams. She writes about the death of her mother and the cryptic books she left behind; all of her cloth-bound journals. But they were filled with stark white pages, blank, not a sheet tarnished with ink. Every single one of them.

I had never heard of this author before, but I fell in love reading her words, a sort of love letter back to her mother for the gift of hundreds of bare, white pages. Near the end of the book I came across a short chapter, just a few lines, but they were full of force. They spoke truth to me as a mother and writer.

Can you be inside and outside at the same time?

I think this is where I live.

I think this is where most women live.

I know this is where writers live.

Inside to write. Outside to glean.

Powerful words. Terry Tempest Williams, you have a new fan.

 

 

 

Breathe and Smile Baby

I recently finished a great book, True Refuge: Finding Peace and Freedom in Your Own Awakened Heart by Tara Brach. She recounts a wonderful story about Thich Nhat Hanh. If you don’t know who that is, you should. Google him. He will inspire you.

When Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to the San Francisco Zen Center in the 1970’s, the students asked him what they could do to improve their practice. He had entered a monastery at age sixteen, was an ordained monk, and had endured the horrors of the war in Vietnam. I imagine they expected some rigorous prescription for deepening their spiritual life. Thich Nhat Hanh’s response: “You guys get up too early for one thing, you should get up a little later. And your practice is too grim. I have just two instructions for you this week. One is to breathe, and one is to smile.”

I think this advice can be applied to all aspects of our lives, as parents, as writers, as artists, and as human beings we would all be better served to adopt this mantra. Breathe and smile. Relax your standards. Approach your life with an open heart. Breathe and smile. Just breathe and smile.

Do You Know Rumi?

Rumi

I am constantly inspired by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and mystic. I often re-read his poems just to get my own creative, inspired juices flowing. I even incorporated his poetry in our wedding. He is one of my favorites.

This quote speaks directly to my writer’s heart. All too often I am drawn away from my writing practice, wondering if it’s really what I’m meant to do and questioning my abilities. Yet, I am constantly called back by a tiny voice inside. Come back. Sit down. Try again. Write. Write. Write. Pour it out on the page. Begin again. This is where you belong.

Are you listening to the voice calling you back to what you love? If you’re unfamiliar with Rumi and want to learn more, here’s a nice site to explore some of his works. http://www.poetseers.org/the-poetseers/rumi/

Own Your Story

my story

So often in life we base our decisions on what other people will think. We stop ourselves from doing what we really feel called to do in our heart in fear of being laughed at or ridiculed or ostracized. As a young girl, I went along with the crowd, ate what my friends ate, dressed like all the “cool” kids, talked the talk, and was a shy follower, happy to have someone else tell me where to be or what to do.

Now as a grown woman and mother, I see the great error in my ways. I was so busy following everyone else’s voice I somehow lost track of my own. I found bits and pieces of myself through writing poetry and keeping journals, bursting with long sweeping tales of teenage heartbreak and melodrama. I wish I had felt stronger walking in my own shoes, more confident in my own convictions, better able to stand out from the noise of the crowd, but at the time, like many kids today, I just wanted to fit in and fly below the radar, go unnoticed enough to quell my anxieties about being good enough.

Today as I write this, I could name numerous events in my life where I’ve strayed away from the pack, gone against so-called societal norms, shocked people and was questioned over and over again, “Why would you do that?!” My poor husband has often been the victim of my many whims, but he has supported me through thick and thin, trusted my judgement, allowed me to follow my heart. In the end, we are always glad we went against the grain and did things our own way.

Here are a few examples:

I had 3 natural births. No medicine of any kind and it was amazing. Unbelieveably painful, but equally incredible. My OB/GYN tried to talk me out of it at every appointment, threatening me, describing the horror of the pain and how I would regret it. She was wrong. I didn’t. I also found supportive midwives for my subsequent births, which leads me to this next one.

I had two unassisted home births. My husband was the first person my daughter and son laid eyes on when they were born. I can’t think of a better way to come into the world. Having a midwife made people uncomfortable. Giving birth at home made people really uncomfortable. I’d done the hospital birth and had a bad experience. I knew the next time I would do it my way and I did. And I don’t regret a thing.

We practice attachment parenting, which includes cosleeping, extended breastfeeding and babywearing. I was told I should never sleep with the baby in my bed, but I did. Nursing at night is so much easier! When my children reached 18 months old and were still breastfeeding, no one was shy about asking when I’d be done “with all that.” “We’ll be done when we’re done,” was my simple reply.

I got used to the questions, the stares, the mocking tones. It made me even more determined to do things my way, what was best for my husband, my children and myself. I’m not advocating for any of these things. It was what felt right to us and it worked. What works for you and your family might be the complete opposite and that’s great.

Write your own story. You be the editor and the author, don’t let society rewrite what should be in your book. That’s what is so great about being a writer. You have complete control. And you can always delete, edit, rewrite. On your terms.

We Are Breaking Up

It’s not you, it’s me.  I just don’t have time to give you any more of me.  Our relationship has been tense for weeks.  I’ve been ignoring you, playing hard to get, not checking in.  I had such high hopes in the beginning, then real life reared its ugly head. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say I have been bogged down and my mind, sadly, has been elsewhere.

NaBloPoMo, I’m talking to you.  As much as I love (and need) daily motivation to sit and write, I just can’t keep up the pace.  I need to focus on paying gigs now.  As much as I love you, you’re not really bringing home the grass-fed beef.  (That stuff is insanely expensive.)

I will always think of you fondly and maybe in another place and time we can come back together again in harmony.  Just not this month or the month after that.  Maybe never…

Au revoir,

XOXO