I have been trying to find a way to juggle writing my novel and well...life. And not doing so well with it. Mostly because sitting down to write seems to be a luxury...something that I should only be able to do after I have finished all of my other chores. Since I never finish or get caught up I never seem to have time to sit and write. See? Even that phrase "sit and write" sounds like a 'rest' -- something that many people only get to do after all chores are done.
And chores are never done. I am never caught up with my school work. I am never caught up on house work. I am never caught up on my piles of organization. Heck, I can't even catch up on putting my laundry away. And I keep getting volunteered for new committees, or I raise my own hand before I even know what that traitorous hand is doing...and I am getting crankier and crankier.
Because writing is the part of me that makes sense.
Pretty much the only part. And without it, I shimmer and shake and have trouble making sense of what keeps flying past my side-view mirror.
Writing is the only place where I feel okay with the struggles, where wrestling with the words helps me understand what my feelings are behind the letters themselves. The letters on paper are soul-dimensional.
I have thrown this one story idea around for years...the idea of a young female protagonist character who has a disability in this world but in a parallel world, where classic lit characters live (I have been working on this much longer than Percy Jackson and 'Once Upon a Time'), her struggles are seen as her strengths. I want Kath, my stroke survivor extraordinaire, to find strong characters in literature who she can look up to. I want Alex, her amazing old-soul big sister, to see her strengths reflected in her daily actions and find connections in a world beyond the playground of kids who don't value the same core vitalities she does. I have this story that is has been rattling in my head...but again it has to wait until I have Time. (Except in November when I participate in National Novel Writing Month...when I write and write and write and allow myself that time to fall behind in everything else and I say things aloud like, "Sorry, I have to write....")
I post a lot of facebook. Mostly because I get to write in 15 minute spurts...and post and share and people respond and it's very exciting for a wanna-be writer. I have also had people complain (to me and god only knows what they say behind my face) that I 'certainly do post a lot," "I know your whole life" (haha, you think? Think again!) And I have allowed them to make me feel bad about my writing, about sharing, about me.
Right now I am not grading papers and doing school work. I am writing this. For every time I 'sit' and write...I have to move something major over. Time grading. Time playing with my kids. Time talking to my husband. Time reading, time spent with friends...okay...so maybe it kind of sounds silly but when one is already over-extended and weary, taking time from any activity feels stressful...and selfish.
Earbuds in, sitting at the kitchen table while hubby and one child watch football (ad plays on the ipad) and the other girl sits at the table with me doing her homework. That is happening right now. And I have guilt because I am not talking. Guilt because I will still need to do all that paperwork in those school bags. Guilt because education is a swirl of inequity these days and I feel I have to stand up for my students...yet here I am writing for me. For me.
Then as I write, I think about the few things that happened this week.
One, I got a piece of mail from the massage school I applied to a year and a half ago, and it reminded me of how close I was to leaving this teaching path not too long ago and how I would now be almost done with my massage degree, had I followed that path. Seeing that paper made me unsure of my choice. I questioned, "Had I made a difference in teaching this year and a half? Had I made anyone's life better for being their teacher?"
(I sure as hell had not written my book.)
Second, I had feedback ---from more than a couple of friends on Facebook (whew!)--- about how my writing helped them. How much they looked forward to reading my posts. How *they* didn't feel so alone and adrift after reading me.
Not my fiction novel. Not the story that haunts my dreams, but the writing I actually wade into every day in my 15 minute spurts. The writing where I share reflections of the girls and life and maybe even education.
(But I'm still not any closer to completing my book.)
Third, I read a post from the writer Anne Lamott that really moved me. She wrote about being 'in the process' of shifts in her life and she also talked about how when she started to write about what was going on in her life she "realized with the Sitch (an issue that she is struggling with) that many, many women have it, and I am now
in healing process with it. I've begun a journal. So it's no longer in
some darker corner of the cave: it's been brought forth, into some
light, where the movement of grace can have a Go at it. And--I don't
know if you can believe this--but I have hope now, WOW, and even a sort
of excitement. I will share more as I can. But in the meantime, we can
still stick together, right, even without all the details? Are you in?"
And she made me realize that just as these friends on Facebook shared with me that my writing has helped them, it has of course, helped me. I wrote one day about a financial problem and almost deleted the post, I was pretty embarrassed at our financial struggle. Then suddenly others were sharing and 'liking' and discussing how hard life was sometimes, how money struggles made things harder than possible sometimes, but those of us who have dealt with health issues, put the money topic in another folder of our lives.
It was all liberating and embracing. And suddenly not as embarrassing.
And maybe that is a really good reason to 'sit and write.' To take those issues 'out of the dark corner of a cave and bring them into light and allow the movement of Grace and Hope have a Go at it.'
Finally, I also was told a dear family member is undergoing testing for what could be a very major health issue. In that blink of a moment my make-believe list of 'what should be done first before writing' seemed awful silly and shallow.
So. What if I've been so focused on trying to 'sit and write' the fiction story and maybe I need to just write and stop trying to figure it all out?
Maybe it will just work itself out...if I just sit and write. If I just sit and write that soul dimensional stuff, dammit.