Friday, April 27


Writing can be a crucial skill, like cartography.  Everybody lives in the middle of a landscape.  Writing can provide a map.  ~Phyllis Theroux
The other day I wrote a post about the things I wish for my future, and in order to accomplish some of those things I am trying to become more regular about writing; particularly writing on this blog.  I bought a book off Amazon called "Writing Motherhood" by Lisa Garrigues.  I've been checking this book out for a while.  My library didn't have it so I decided to buy it.  The book was going for less than the shipping, but the ratings were really high.  I've read about 20 pages and I can tell you that I am exceptionally excited about this book.  I've also been reading "Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within" by Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, which is good, but the writing premise is less specific, and has been somewhat less helpful for me.

I have always been compelled to write.  When I was a child I wrote stories and poems, and as I got older I  continued.  I wrote lots of angsty poetry in Middle and High School.  A few of them are actually worth reading, but not by much.  Through college I managed to keep a journal on a sporadic basis, but I was going through a lot of change and should have been keeping one more regularly.

I actually didn't do very well journaling until I got to graduate school and started my blog.  It's all online, and sure, it's a bit censored, but it's all surely here.  Sometimes I think I would have done better to have kept it private, but the audience- the comments- were endlessly helpful as I wrote.  It's hard to feel motivated when no one keeps you accountable, and it's hard if no one is there to help you hash out those thoughts.

Writing is, and has always been a way that I get my bearings.  When I was working from home in 2006 I posted roughly twice as many posts as I did in any other year.  It was a time when I was especially feeling isolated and unsure of myself.  Writing helped me figure out what I was doing and where I was wanting to go.

Since I had kids I've been just as unsure, but I've written less and less often.  I think it's partly because of how difficult it is to find time to write with kids around.  As surely as you sit down to pound out some thoughts there is a fight, or someone needs a drink, or the phone rings, and you don't want a 3-year-old else answering the phone.  Barbara DeMarco-Barrett says plainly that you must scratch out words in any spare time you might find, and I've discovered that she is right.  I may only have two or three minutes here and there, but if I can scrawl the ideas down when they come, I can fill them out when the children sleep.

Notice that in that post, I said nothing about having an immaculate house.

The problem, often, for me is that I have so little self-control.  I have five minutes, so I check facebook, or I make lists of all the things I need to do.  I feel like I am either running at top speed or I've slammed on the brakes and I'm going nowhere.

So I write these snippets.  I write them down.  The other night I know I laid in bed writing in my head, and it was brilliant.  I knew it at the time.  I worked out transitions and anecdotes and major points and I went to sleep without writing it down.  I can't remember, for the life of me, what it was all about.  Maybe it will come back?  Probably not.  So I write things down.

It may take me six hours to write a blog post, but I will get it out eventually.

Like just there.  Between those last two sentences I started dinner and helped Caroline with her play kitchen and filled the sink with soapy water... it never ends, but I still write.

I write in little bursts because if I do not I will lose my way.  I find that I do not know why I am doing what I am doing.  Suddenly I am holding a spatula with no idea what I intended to do with it, or I find that I forgot myself while I was in the middle of sorting laundry, and that most of it needs to be resorted.

Writing reminds me who I am, where I am going, and how I have planned on getting there.  If I don't map out my route I will get lost.  If my location isn't drawn out I will find it difficult to remember where I am. I find it difficult to know that I am no longer in the same place I have always been in.

Today has been a good day.  We met a friend for lunch, played at the playground, Caroline napped while Jonah and I had some time alone.  We had tea time and went for a walk through the yard.  I watched my children run through the grass that needs to be mowed and stir up all the moths and flying bugs... and I am writing today.  Today is a good day.

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