Sunday, May 16, 2010

Two days and counting...

Yesterday I felt wonderful all day after writing in the morning.  I had achieved my goal before I finished my second cup of coffee.  I felt hopeful, a feeling that has been very fleeting in my life. 

After writing, I got a little manic - I painted my home office, only intending to paint one wall, but ending up painting the whole room.  I got the idea we could have a back yard vegetable garden and secretly thought we could do it all in a weekend.  Once I saw the extreme anxiety this caused for my husband, who believes in his heart that gardens should be planned out with the precision of a computer program before being executed, I realized this should be a slow, summer-long project with the goal of a garden for next spring instead of next week.

I am happy to be writing today.  It's a little later in the morning, but it is the only quiet time I have had since I woke up.  I really need the calm meditation in the morning to allow me to be calm and sane the rest of the day. 

Journaling and blogging has been great practice to help me find and trust in my voice as a writer - if you don't do this daily, I highly recommend it, as well as reading, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg.  I love the idea that what I write doesn't need to be perfect, it's something I can throw away and not attach myself to.  I love being able to throw away old journals and not hang onto them, not put an extraordinary amount of perfectionism into every sentence.  It is liberating.  But I want to work on writing the stories I have sketched out, some on paper and some in my mind.

I remember being in 6th grade.  I was given a writing assignment to our new replacement teacher, who I loved.  Her name was Mrs. Pendergrass.  She was young and beautiful and so kind and loving.  I wanted her to be my sister or my mother.  It turns out my daughter is just like her.  Mrs. Pendergrass was in stark contrast to our previous troll-like teacher, Mr. Wells, who hated us, clearly despised teaching, and had a heart attack toward the end of the first quarter.  We all were so happy to have a new teacher who was a shining light at the front of the class.  I don't know if I learned anything in 6th grade, but I finally found an adult who was nurturing and loving in a way I had never known.  I learned that level of kindness existed.  Now, I wasn't abused anymore than anyone else in my generation.  My parents were hardened by their lives in Appalachia and just weren't nurturing.  They try to be, but they aren't.  I'm afraid this has rubbed off on me. 

Back to topic, the writing assignment was that we had to write a fiction story of our choice.  I wanted to write a story about a mouse.  I could not for my life come up with a story line.  I had no plot.  I was a perfect student except I blushed and talked in a tiny little voice when I spoke out loud.  I could not complete the assignment.  I could not write fiction (in my 11 year old mind).  I wanted nothing more than to be a writer.  That day, my writing hand was paralyzed only when it came to fiction.  For the rest of my life up until now, I have not been able to write fiction except for little children's stories that I made up as bedtime stories for my kids.  I held that paralysis with me all my life up until now, when I have suddenly been freed, I believe by daily writing and allowing myself to be imperfect.

Somehow, I have always been able to write poetry just fine.  It's probably from all of the Dr. Seus injected daily into my brain.  I am a rhyming fool.  I love helping my kids come up with silly rhymes when they have to write poems for school. 

When I was a junior in high school, I wrote a serious poem in French that everyone misinterpreted. I think it was then that I realized the beauty of poetry - no one will understand it anyway, so there's no threat of criticism.  The more terse, more cryptic the poem the better.  Like a work of art, it is whatever the person who reads it thinks it is.  I loved writing poetry in college and letting people read it to find out what they saw in it.  I wish I still had those poems.  I would love to look back into my 19 year old mind.

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