My friend Amy gave birth to her fifth child at the age of 41. This baby has brought so much joy. I find myself thinking of the years of sacrifice it takes to get a newborn off to kindergarten. I remember the demands of being fully responsible for keeping another human being alive for those years and I feel exhausted just thinking about it. I love being a mother and would not trade the experience for anything but thinking about doing it again at my age makes me tired. It won’t happen. It’s not physically possible since my hysterectomy and that’s ok.
Amy’s friend Molly just had her first child. She’s young and new to the experience bringing a fresh perspective. I see myself in a new role as I read their blog Life in Tandem. I am the soon-to-be empty nester, the crone to their maiden and mother. I watch as all the children I’ve known since they were babies move into adulthood. Skinny, squirrely boys sprout muscles and real facial hair. Awkward, giggling, gangly girls suddenly curve into graceful knowing creatures. It’s in the conversations too. In a place where before a parent had to prompt a one word greeting or response, these changelings share their opinions in detailed and even eloquent ways. They get the jokes. They share.
I’m looking forward to my new role with these children of mine. I am anxious to discover what world they are creating and learn how I fit in it. Day by day I turn loose a little bit more. Soon I’ll hand over the reins entirely and see where they take me.
There is no way I am ready to take on the challenge of attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 consecutive days, but the first day of November (also the first day of NaNoWriMo) seems like a good day to set a goal.
My plan is to write every day for 30 days. I recently downloaded the IDoneThis app for my phone, as recommended by Patti Digh, so I’ve written at least one sentence about my day for most days over the past two weeks. It’s not very creative, but it’s an exercise in accountability, I guess.
Over the next 30 days, I’ll be traveling out-of-state at least twice, attending a wedding, a high school play, and a choir concert. I’ll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner and decorating for Christmas. All are excellent excuses for why I won’t have time to write! My goal…navigate the obstacles.
The crazy, creative part about writing a blog is the freedom of writing it, posting it and moving on. I admit, I sometimes look back and make corrections but for the most part, it’s a task I complete with that last period on the page and then I focus to other things. It’s so freeing. You have to be a little daring because posting off the cuff means laying out something rough and unpolished. But, sometimes I think the result is better than a piece that has been edited to death.
Have you every finished a free writing session and looked back and thought, “Wow, that was in my head? I didn’t know that about me.” I like that feeling. I also love when someone reads something I’ve written and the perspective, based on his or her unique life experience, alters the effect. We often forget as writers that we are not alone in our writing. Each reader contributes to our story by bringing his own point-of-view. We can’t base our writing on this collaboration because we don’t have access to other brains (at least I don’t.) But, the result adds richness all the same.
When I wrote my essay, The Beach, I started telling a true story from my life. Because I was retelling events, the first draft (getting the event on paper) was just a linear telling of the event. Future drafts incorporated details, emotions, and characterization that painted images. I guess my story evolved like a string of beads. The string was the chronological order in which the events occurred and each bead was the fleshing out of a character or setting or feeling. My friend Amy once pitched an idea of a book to me in which she offers a collection of stories described as a String of Pearls. I guess the creative process I use when writing an essay is more like a string of raw clay beads. Each bead is imperfect and pliable. In the dark cool space of my mind the beads are reshaped draft after draft then finally tempered when exposed to the light of day. Of course, this has to be some kind of magic clay that can be sent back into the dark to become pliable again because upon critique in the light of day changes will have to be made. Maybe the tempering occurs after publishing. That seems right although even then there could be changes. I guess it’s good to string up beads of clay. The beads can always be ground back to dust and with a little rain the process starts all over again.
In an attempt to hold myself accountable to writing every day, I recently purchased a book called, The Daily Writer, 366 meditations to cultivate a productive and meaningful writing life by Fred White. In the spirit of the recent movie Julie and Julia and upon encouragement from my friend Amy, I intend to post the results of exercises inspired by this book. Future references to Fred on this blog will be to the afore mentioned author. If you find the results interesting, please buy Fred’s book.