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Like most people, I consider the first day of a new year to be a time of new beginnings. It's a fresh start, a second chance to get things right, a time to reflect on our lives and the way we live them and decide if there are things we need to change, things we need to get right this time. The day always holds so much hope and promise. It's like having a new notebook with all those blank pages just waiting to be filled--but with what? We don't know. It's a mystery that hasn't yet been written.
January 2. Have any regrets? I do. I already broke one of my non-writing resolutions. Sometimes they're hard to keep, as everyone complains/moans/jeers about, but that doesn't mean they're not worth it. Am I disappointed in myself? Yes--but I won't give up.
My non-writing goals are going much better. Yesterday morning a line for a poem came to me. I wrote it down and went about my day. Later that night, I sat down in front of the computer, typed the line, and the poem began to follow. So there are successes, too.
Yesterday I remarked to my husband how it seems our four-year-old's thoughts move too quickly for his mouth to keep up. Like all young children, he trips over his words as he tells us--enthusiastically--about this or that. We've learned we must be patient as he tells his tales.
A similar thing happened to me yesterday when I wrote my 100 words, although I didn't notice until much later. I wrote about my non-writing goals when I meant my writing goals--a small slip but one that makes me wish for an edit option.
I never knew him, but I've been told that my grandpa--my mom's father--loved to write. My mom always says that I get my writing abilities and love of words and language from him, which may be true if those sorts of things can be passed down through the generations. Mom has always encouraged me to write. She tells me about contests she learns of and urges me to enter; she wants me to publish books. I know that I'll always have her support. She believes in me--maybe sometimes too much--but I'll always be grateful for that.
As a writer and a mom, one of the things I struggle most with is finding the time to write. I stay at home with my two very young kids, something I wouldn't trade for anything. I do some writing early in the morning before they get up and some late at night after they're in their beds, but in both cases, I'm pretty tired and often unfocused. However, to paraphrase Tim Gunn on
, I make it work. I have to. If I have to sacrifice something--sleep--to follow my dream, that's what I'll do.
As I browsed the shelves at Barnes and Noble this past Christmas season, I saw an older gentleman with an armload of purchases. He stopped near me for a second before spotting some books piled on the floor. He hurried over to them, grabbed the one from the top, glanced at the cover, flipped through the pages, nodded, and then added the book to his stack. I wondered: Had he been searching for that book, or was it one of those desperate, gotta-find-something purchases I saw so many make when I worked retail? My bet's on the latter.
There are two types of people in this world: those who are never late and those who are. I fall into the former category; my husband falls into the latter. This morning, the hubs had an 8 a.m. appointment at a car repair shop about fifteen minutes away. He left the house at 7:58. I suggested that maybe he should call on the way and tell them he'd be late, but he wasn't interested in that. "Oh, they won't care," he said. I think they would. I'm glad I wasn't going with him; I would be beyond anxious.
I think that the greatest enemy to any writer is comparison: when she starts to compare her writing to the writing of others, she will ultimately find her own lacking in some way, and then the discouragement will set in--
I'll never be good enough. I'm a talentless hack. Why do I even bother?
I felt this last night as I was working on poems and reading others in a critique forum. Seeing how good many of them were, I became disheartened and began the inevitable comparison. I went to bed demoralized. Comparison is writing suicide.
When I go into a bookstore, I truly am like an excited kid in a candy store. I went to Barnes and Noble a couple of times last week to use the gift cards I'd been given for Christmas, and it took me quite some time to choose which books to buy: I wanted to buy everything! I'm the same way whenever I enter a library, especially some of the larger city libraries around town. When I walk in the door and see the stacks, whatever gloom I'd been feeling is lifted, gone. I feel like I've finally come home.
I think most people can look back on their lives and find a few cringe-worthy moments they wish they could forget. I know I can. But I can also recall moments when I did stupid things that could have had a very different--and very bad--outcome. There was the time I accidentally ran a red light at a busy intersection. I truly didn't see it, but sometimes I consider how bad the ramifications
have been. There were other times as well, too many to count, but I think about them a lot and am thankful.
It was my mom who told me that I should be a writer. I guess she saw something in me way back when I was young and spending much of my free time scribbling away in notebooks. It's been my own dream for just as long. Now I look at my kids and wonder what their dreams will be. Will my daughter's love of animals turn into a career as a veterinarian? Will my son's love of trains and cars and singing factor into his future plans?
Both of my children love books. Will they be writers, too?
I joined Pinterest a couple of days ago, and since then I've been happily pinning away on my boards. Although I have only just started and really don't have too many things on my page as of yet, I can already see how some people find the site addictive. The idea of organizing things appeals to me. I have categories like "Poets I Find Inspiring," and I love seeing the pictures of those poets neatly organized on my board. However, I have to wonder if maybe my time wouldn't best be used in organizing the things in my own home.
Two of my favorite television shows are
Sex and the City
. I'm most drawn to the creative characters, the writers, actors, and kooky, artsy types, as that's how I picture myself. I love being around others who share my creative side, but I don't know many in "real" life, which is why I enjoy these shows so much. They allow me to share the life of a writer with Carrie, to be someone else from time to time like Joey, and to allow my kooky, free-spirited side to shine, as Phoebe always does.
I'm reading a book right now--
Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers
by Carolyn See--and in it See advocates that people who desire to be writers should write 1,000 words each day plus five "charming" notes each week to people they admire in the industry. I find her ideas interesting. As I'm writing poetry right now, the 1,000-words-a-day advice isn't feasible for me, but I could modify her instructions. I do like the idea of sending notes, however. What writer wouldn't appreciate a kind word from a fan?
It's sad how some friendships just end as if there was never any importance or significance to them in the first place. Yesterday I was reminded of a good friend I met in college. Beth was smart and kind, the type of person who was always there when I needed help or advice. I tried to be the same for her. However, one day, just like that it seemed, the friendship was over: she wouldn't talk to me; she moved away when I came near... To this day, I don't understand what happened--but I know I still miss her.
In graduate school, I dated a guy I thought was the love of my life. When he said he didn't want to be with me anymore, my whole world crumbled--I couldn't eat or sleep... Even one of my professors remarked later--after I'd finally gotten over the guy--that I had been looking gray and sick for a while and he was glad to see me looking healthy and happy again. My mistake was not loving the guy but letting him rule my world--allowing him to be my sun. I truly hope my daughter never does the same.
I need more breakfast choices. Every day I eat an egg on toast or cereal. Every once in a while, I might have yogurt, but for the most part, Cheerios, Rice Krispies, and hard-boiled eggs are my go-to foods. If someone else were to watch me for a week or a month, examining what I eat for that all-important first meal of the day, I think they could deduce--and probably correctly--that I'm a bit boring. In truth, I buy what the kids will eat. I
change it up. Tomorrow? How about pancakes?
When my daughter was born two years ago, my generous friend, who has two daughters of her own, gave me a ton of beautiful, hardly worn clothes, and she continues to give me clothes as her girls outgrow them. Two months ago, she gave birth to a boy, and now it's my turn to return her generosity by giving her some of my son's clothes. But when I opened one of the clothes bins and looked at the clothes, I wanted to cry: so many memories... I know I need to do this, but my sentimentality is making it hard.
I kept my son home from preschool today, as it looks as if he might have pink eye. At first he seemed disappointed to have to miss school, but now he's happier, and he actually can't wait to see the doctor in about an hour.
I can remember getting pink eye several times as a child, and I also remember the elation I felt upon waking up in the morning with one or both of my eyes stuck shut, which meant, of course, no school. I loved school, but it was always nice to have an unexpected vacation.
I long for the extensive intellectual discussions about literature and art that I used to have with others when I was in graduate school. We all had the same focus--the same love--and we could pitch words and ideas and theories with no fear of boring the people around us. We could share our research and not fear that the listener's eyes would glaze over with boredom or that he would clean his nails and stare at the wall in apathy as we talked. I share these things online now more than off. I miss being face-to-face.
Nearly every day when I sit down to write--or when I'm thinking about the writing I want to do later in the day, when the pressures of my non-writing life have been removed--I feel like I'm racing against time. A voice inside keeps telling me to hurry, that if I'm going to write, I need to write now, and so I get frustrated when the words don't come as quickly as I want them to or when time and life keep me from my work.
I feel as if I didn't produce enough this week.
Last night a friend in a writing chat room said that, while it's fine to sit and wait for inspiration to strike, sometimes one has to go out with a big stick and hunt it down. I can see her point: it's too easy to give up when we don't feel inspired. I don't think there's anything wrong with staring at the monitor until our creative minds click and we hit upon something to write, but I do agree that sometimes we have to be more aggressive in our search for ideas: freewrite, research, read. Be unafraid of writing crap.
Some rejections came in yesterday for writing I had submitted to a journal. At first I was sad, of course, and drowned my sorrows in beer--(not really!)--but then I decided that the best thing to do was to devise a plan. So first, I'll send a thank-you note to the editors because they gave me personal feedback for which I'm very appreciative. Second, I'll polish and submit more writing to them. Third, I'll study other markets. Fourth, I'll edit and resubmit my rejected work to some of those markets. Fifth and most important, I'll continue to write.
I sometimes think about where I would be today--
I would be--if I had made even one decision differently. What if I had chosen a different college? Married my high school boyfriend? Hadn't taken that teaching job in Nebraska? What if I had gone to a Chinese restaurant that day instead of to the Mexican place around the corner? Would I be someone else? Almost certainly my life path would be different. Would I have kids? Would I have found my way to New York? Even the smallest decisions can change the course of a life.
I tend to get lost when I'm driving. A couple of years ago, I wanted to take my son to the children's museum downtown. I'm not from here, and I rarely venture out of the suburbs and into the downtown labyrinth of one-way streets and traffic, so I Googled the directions and set off, hopeful that we would get to our destination. I missed a left, however, and couldn't see a way to turn around in the traffic. Somehow I ended up miles away, near the lake, and only a frantic call to my husband got us home again.
For most of this week, I've struggled with writing. Although I've been sitting at the computer each night, wanting to create, my spirit hasn't been willing. Nearly everything I've done is probably best suited for the recycle bin, but I'll keep it anyway because one just doesn't know.
Last night, however, was different: the muse graced me with an idea, and I took that idea and worked to shape it into something worthwhile. While the result is not the best poem I've ever written, one thing is true: it's a wonderful thing to be surprised by the muse.
I don't know now why I cared so much, why I felt I had to have you--or anyone--with me (next to, around, inside), except for maybe that fear I have of being alone, unwanted, unloved: yes, I can see that little idiosyncrasy being a problem (more so then than now) that made me cling to anybody--any body--no matter how screwed up, messed up, toked up that person may or may not have been: hair dyed purple or black and slicked back with Ross Geller gel--whatever; I needed you to survive. What an idiot I was.
I woke up with a tingling left hand and a crick in my neck, and although I know that both are merely the result of a fitful night's sleep, I can't help but also think of them as harbingers of age. I'll turn forty in August, and sometimes I have "I can't believe it" moments when I think of that milestone. It's not that I consider forty old, but it seems unreal that the eighteen-year-old I used to be--the one starting college and beginning her life--could already have had that many birthdays. Time passes so fast.
Last night I opened the window to allow the chill air to ease me to sleep. I don't like the stuffy indoor air that fills the house each winter--it's too warm, almost suffocating in its heaviness--and I much prefer cooler temperatures at night, with blankets pulled up cozily to my chin. And unless the central air is running, summer sleep is horrible for me as well: the fitful flinging of sheets during endless nights; the tossing and turning and tangling; the stickiness that doubles when someone else is asleep in the same bed. Give me cool temperatures anytime.
When I was a kid, I sometimes felt resentful that my family and I lived seven miles out of town. I was never much of a joiner, especially when I was in elementary school, but there were instances when I wished I could be in Brownies or dance or just go to a friend's house after school. My dad was always working to support us all, though, and my mom didn't drive, so these kinds of things weren't possible for me and my sister. Instead we rode the school bus each day--noisy and crowded, that acrid smell of exhaust...
Does growing older mean growing wiser? I heard that on the radio this morning as I was driving home from the preschool. I know that I've lived through enough in my nearly four decades to have at least some knowledge to pass on to my children. I've certainly made mistakes that I hope my children never repeat. And the same can be said of my four-year-old son; he learns so quickly, and he imparts his own wisdom to his little sister. I think the level of our wisdom changes with growing age, but everyone has something to teach.
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