Thinking. Writing.

“The last time” gets to be so far in the past that I become embarrassed by the length of time between posts, between emails to friends, between resurfacing to check-in with myself. I’m not doing poorly. I’m just, like many of you I suspect, barely keeping all the balls up in the air during this juggling act called motherhood.

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing. It’s laughable. Why don’t I just write about my thinking instead. It’s a good idea, just hard to do in the car, which is when I find space and time for reflection.

I’ve been subtly putting constant pressure on myself to write, which evidently has lead to very little writing.

I was listening to Liz Gilbert’s magic lessons podcast, which I enjoy very much. But I’ve put that aside for now. I was feeling too guilty for not getting up at 4:30am and writing (you know, I could get up at 4:30am to write and follow it by a 5:30 to 6:30am workout, and then get Gummy up and ready for the day, make my lunch, our breakfast, get her to daycare by 8:15am if at all possible. Riiiiiiiight.)

But writing forgives me and waits, despite my neglect. It sits there quietly calling my name, but never imploring or guilt-inducing. It says “I’m here for you”, and asks for nothing in return.

I broke up with Mr. Right Now. He was the most delicious lover. But he saw me as The Woman he’d been waiting for and I couldn’t keep up with that story. When I ended it, I decided it was time to love myself fiercely. Yes, fiercely goddammit. Not just like myself and get to know myself and give myself a break. I decided I have to put all that energy I had for Mr. Right Now and give it me. Because I need it. And possibly deserve it.

Writing is a way I can love myself fiercely. I get to, as Anais Nin says, “taste life twice”. I get to hear my voice more clearly when I write. I feel soothed by it. What are the reasons you write?




6 thoughts on “Thinking. Writing.

  1. Hey there. Well, it’s good to hear from you! And self-love and forgiveness sounds necessary and good. Much better than getting up at 4:30 in the morning. You know, sleep is good for brains and creativity 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re absolutely right about writing being there for you, always, no matter if you aren’t there for it.

    My central identity of myself, growing up, was as a writer and as going to be a writer. And then I went to university and realized I’m a pretty awful poet (and at that point I had long realized that I struggled with plot when it came to writing fiction), and then I went to grad school and…basically didn’t write any fiction for about a decade. This isn’t to say I didn’t write — I wrote a PhD thesis and numerous academic papers, something I’m pretty successful at, my ratio of publications to rejections is way higher than any novelists, I’m sure!

    Just over two years ago, I issued myself a challenge: Write exacty 400 words a day, and these words had to be the words I wanted to write, words I wanted to read. I was writing for no one other than myself. If I missed a day, the words would roll over to the next day, e.g., I’d have 800 words to play with.

    I made it more than two months before falling behind, and even then I continued to return to the project when I felt the need. In early July, I hit 200 days/80,000 words, and that seemed like the time to wrap it up. It isn’t exactly a book that I’ve written, but it is a semi-coherent narrative with parts in it that I really like. (I extracted 7000 words worth of it in August and sent it off to a call for contributions for a speculative fiction anthology. And it was accepted! I’m going to be a really truly published fiction writer!)

    Within days of hitting 80,000 words, I was sitting at a conference in Melbourne, not paying attention to a talk, but paying attention to someone in the audience. I wrote down a paragraph of description…and things have snowballed since then. The novel now has almost 54,000 words, all written since July and most of them written since the beginning of September, and I’m going to attempt NaNoWriMo next month and hopefully in another 50,000 words it’ll be done.

    What I never expected, returning to writing fiction, was to realize how much my academic writing prepared me to do this. I am now the master of the 15 page journal article: How to structure it, how to present the background material, how to argue for my conclusion, how to appropriately signpost what I’m doing. And you know what? This extrapolates to a 100,000 page novel way more than you’d think. Signposting is foreshadowing. Plot is nothing more than an argument. And sometimes, you just need a preface with the background material you need your reader to know.

    What I’m hoping is that when this is done, I’ll have figured out how to write a book — something that has always daunted me, and kept me from writing an academic book. I’m a bit of a rarity in my field in that I’ve obtained a permanent position without a book published or in press. And I do want to change that, I just never quite knew how to go about doing something so….big (witness the comment above about having mastered the 15 page paper. I find 20 page papers tough!). But I suspect what I am learning writing the novel will translate into relevant techniques for an academic book.

    Why do I write? For a few weeks in September, I woke up, went out to my office, sat in my chair, and wrote; went home, made supper, put Gwen to bed; and wrote. Thank goodness term hadn’t started yet, because I did basically NO academic work for about three weeks! It was a weird space to be, in that once I got started, I didn’t know how not to keep going. Even now, three weeks into term, I’ve had to earmark some time for class prep, etc., but still do some writing during the day and a couple hours every night. I write because I don’t know how to do anything else until this is finished. I wake up thinking about what’ll happen next, and fall asleep planning out the next day’s chapters. It is unlike any experience I’ve ever had before.

    I’ve regularly argued to academic friends that writing breeds writing — and that the more you write, the more you will write. This comment is proof of that: it’s far more verbose than I would ordinarily write! Hope you don’t mind….


    • I love that the content of your comment and the length of your comment both make the same point. So NO I don’t mind that it’s long; quite the contrary. Thank you for your insight and inspiration. I’ve been thinking about the notion that writing begets writing, and there is something there, clearly. And woah, big warm congrats on producing so much lately. And last thing, I did NaNo 3 years ago and loved it.


  3. Good to see a post from you. I stopped writing on my blog for many of the same reasons you have recently been absent from this space: juggling the balls of working and motherhood and life, it had begun to feel like just one more thing I couldn’t quite keep up with.

    I look forward to hearing more about how you are loving yourself fiercely. You definitely deserve it.


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