Signs

Today my son G said, “Wouldn’t it be great if you were a writer like you wanted to be.” I didn’t answer at first and he and C discussed amongst themselves for the millionth time how I could work from home and spend more time with them and C went off on his favorite tangent about how I should be a teacher and work at their school and I listened and struggled to find my voice.

Finally, I said, “I am a writer. I just don’t make a living from it.”

“Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

The truth is if I wanted to be a writer I’d be working on it. Saying the words “I am a writer” doesn’t make it so.  I haven’t written a damn thing that was not work related in about six months. Real writers make time for their craft. Real writers are compelled to get the words on the page. Real writers stay up late and wake up early to tell their stories. Real writers can’t stop writing. Right?

Maybe it’s just the winter blues (again). Or maybe I just don’t have it in me. Maybe I’ve lost my voice in a more significant way than I thought.

I’ve been looking for signs for a while now. Signs to point me toward what I should be doing next. Signs that the work I do every day is meaningful. Signs that my work as a mother has been successful. Signs that I’m on the right path. I see or hear things that make me stop and think and wonder if they are the sign I’ve been looking for, but they are fleeting and ultimately insignificant.

My friend posted this on Facebook:

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I’m already haunted.

There is no great time to have an existential crisis, but as a single mom of tween-aged twin boys with a full-time job (which is fraught with its own tangles and ties to my perceived self-worth) and a house to run and a mortgage to pay, this just doesn’t seem like the optimal moment to start questioning my true life’s purpose. But then I remember that this is a road I have frequently traveled. There are no signs to be found and the path seems like a giant spiral; I go around a little longer and a little wider each time, but I still end up basically where I started off.

My boys are getting ready to wrap up their elementary school education and move on to the next level. Middle school. When everything starts to matter and each step builds upon the last. I so desperately want them to apply themselves and make sure they are giving themselves their best chance at whatever comes next. I give them all sorts of great motherly advice and then follow none of it myself.

Try. Do your best. Take your time. Be thorough. Be confident. Use your brain. Find what you love. Work hard. Make good choices.

Get your shit together.

I guess I’ve got some writing to do.

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One-liner Wednesday– Writing

This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word down after another until it’s done. It’s that easy, and that hard.  – Neil Gaiman


This post is brought to you as an attempt to keep up with this blog despite the many squirrels and sickness and life things which keep popping up and distracting me from doing the very thing this quote suggests. AND as a part of Linda G. Hill’s One-Liner Wednesdays. Check it out!

Ch-Ch-Changes

Time may change me. But I can’t trace time.

– David Bowie


I’ve been spending a lot of time writing off my blog and participating in Write Yourself Alive. In retrospect, I should have just used the blog as a forum for some of these exercises, but I was hesitant because I was writing about many themes that had nothing to do with me as a mother or my adventures as a single mom raising the twin tornadoes. This particular prompt really threw me for a loop, however, and in the end I decided this was the perfect place to explore it.

Question/Dig Deeper: Dissect change. What scares you or makes you uncomfortable about it? What helps you deal with it best?

Prompt: Write a short autobiographical story (1st or 3rd person) in which you reflect change. There must be an obvious before and after in the character/s.

At first, I thought this was easy. I’d always had an uncomfortable relationship with change so I thought I would write about my first awareness of it and how I’d grown and matured. I began writing about how my mother and her friend and I had sat on the beach when I was about fifteen and read my Tarot cards. They were studying Tarot at the time and I was a bit of a guinea pig. My future card was The Moon. Change.

I was resistant. I read something else in the cards. But they insisted that the card represented a massive change in my life up ahead. I should have embraced it. There was nothing in my life which warranted a comfort in staying where I was or whom I was. And yet…

As I explored this and started telling the story of me, I became extremely frustrated. Every time I thought I was writing something about how I embraced change and learned from it, it seemed the story started betraying me.

I haven’t changed at all! Not even since I was fifteen fucking years old! How can that be???

I was tempted to cheat and just write a story about becoming a mom. That sure as hell changed me. But there was this nagging at the back of my mind, something I needed to hash out and make sense of, something that would make the following a little less hard to swallow:

You are the same scared, insecure, gratification seeking, angry, loving, selfish, kind, passionate, opinionated, defiant, compliant, dichotomous person you have always been. Any grand transformation you feel has taken place is a total sham. If anything, you have been going forward in a dizzying spiral which only faintly resembles progress, but is, in reality, a series of pirouettes.

Then a friend who knows me inside and out suggested that I had indeed changed during these post-children, mommy years he had known me.

More confident. Less dependent. More trusting. Hopeful. Peaceful.

Still, I abandoned any further dissection of this tricky subject. And then I had the chance to examine both of my boys independently while we were at the ocean this past weekend. I was amazed at the simple, subtle ways they had changed (and not changed) and were becoming evermore themselves. Individuals. Growing. Almost tweens.

Gone were my babies. Gone was the need to hover over them every second. I still waded out into the ocean with them, as they grabbed their boogie boards with varying degrees of daring. I spent time with each of them alone; testing the ocean and our limits. I watched as their approaches were both the same as they were when they were younger, and yet, different; progressed.

C, cautious as ever, but wanting to embrace the surf. G, almost careless, getting reprimanded by the sea. And mama, letting them go, keeping a watchful eye as they discovered their limits and their limitlessness in the rough waves.

My boys are growing up in the time between when I close my eyes at night and wake to them making their breakfasts in the morning. I’m quickly losing sight of the babies, toddlers, little boys they used to be. They are the big kids now, not quite tweens and thank God, not teenagers, but they are well on their way. And they have changed with time and not changed at all, simultaneously. It is hard for me sometimes to see the difference between the changes time is bringing and the difference which they are having on themselves.

It’s all change though, right?

I realized while watching the boys and contemplating my changes as a mother that time does indeed change us, even though we may not think we are changing at all. Maybe there are certain core characteristics that will never change and that is alright. But maybe, with experience, we can enhance or abandon those patterns or traits which set us back. We may approach life with all of our baggage, with all that we have been or done before, but the outcomes may be wildly different according to our wisdom, and self-awareness, and discipline.

Maybe it is OK that I am pirouetting through life, as long as those circles are projecting me forward.

Maybe if a circle is destructive enough and I stumble, I will embrace a new choreography. I want to believe I have already done that. Certainly, as a mother, I have.

We cannot stay static for long. We cannot trace time’s immeasurable effect. We can only breathe in and out each day and attempt to learn from what has come before.

all that lies ahead

all that lies ahead–seven years ago…

Apples and the tree

My sons are writing a book with their friends who happen to be another set of twins. They are using Google docs and each contributing chapters based on their own point of view. It is wonderful to watch them get so excited to sit down and write and to listen to them flesh out different ideas. Their imaginations are vast and inspired. I’m so proud. And a little jealous.

I think that sometimes as adults we struggle with our imaginations. Too much “reality” has been experienced and it can become difficult to simply let our minds create what they will, to indulge in answering the question of “what if” with no limits, no right or wrong ideas. I have so many half-written stories because at some point I’ve questioned whether what I’m writing rings true, if it could really have happened that way, if my characters would really think or act a certain way. I’ve become paralyzed by whether my ideas are real enough.

This just doesn’t happen with kids. They have an idea and they run with it. The crazier, the better. Magic is not something to be questioned with them. Only believed.

I should learn from their openness. Maybe they’ll partner with me on their next project.

Home stretch

It’s just about the last week of NaBloPoMo. I’ve successfully written a post every day, even through one of the worst stomach flus that I can remember. It has been challenging, but after doing both NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo, I can say that this is easier for a number of reasons, the most obvious being that each post is its own entity and doesn’t have to complete the whole.

When you feel that you have to write a number of words that will meaningfully contribute to an overall vision, there is (for me, at least) a bit of hesitance. There is an internal editing that takes place before you even sit down to type your little heart out. And then a bit of a struggle whilst pushing and pulling those words around on paper or a screen. With a blog post, you can take an idea and flesh it out fully or not, put your words down and hope for the best. They are what they are and hopefully they are good, but if they aren’t there is a lot less pressure to make them so.

In that way, I am finding that NaBloPoMo is accomplishing what I have always hoped that NaNoWriMo would…establishing simply the habit of writing every single god-forsaken day. For better or for worse. Regardless of life, regardless of word choice, regardless of distractions. I can write whatever I feel, get it all out, and tomorrow I can write about something completely different. I can change my mind. There is a freedom in that.

In the past, when trying to complete NaNoWriMo, I found that I got so hung up on the story or the characters and spent so much time editing as I went that my time investment went up while my word count stayed the same. I wasn’t able to simply write it all, with the promise that I would edit it later. Even though I mentally gave myself permission for my writing to be subpar, the reality is that my attachment to the story or the characters paralyzed me into not exploring scenes if i couldn’t get the tone right or if I couldn’t get into the right frame of mind.

I’ve learned that in order to be successful at writing (a cohesive novel), I either have to plan meticulously and give myself as much time as needed or I need to isolate myself and immerse myself in the story and writing an nothing else. Since I can’t do the isolation part, as a single mom and the sole custodian for my children, I will need to plug away at it as needed. In the meantime, this blog and NaBloPoMo has given me a wonderful opportunity to just write. To let the thoughts flow as they might and see what comes of it. Some are good, some are just a triumph in persistence; but the habit of writing every day, the challenge of putting it out there for consumption, the knowledge that there are just no excuses for not doing it has been an incredibly motivating and liberating experience for me.

Just nine more days. And a lifetime left to go.