Find a way to interpret and share this with 98 learners.
one week into a new year i find myself waiting for direction for this year’s blogging, savoring lucille clifton’s message from the ones over rooibus tea
some of you have been blessed
to see beyond yourselves
into the scattered wrongful dead
into the disappeared
none of you has seen
none of you has said
what you have not noticed
we have noticed
what you have ignored
we have not
Those are famous first words. They have led to many inventions, arguments, discoveries and yes, failures. It’s how my mind works or doesn’t much of the time. What if those who can’t do, write? Having withstood a similar accusation as a teacher for more than 20 years I answer, “big whoop”. And then, I put on the big girl panties and enter the classroom yet again. Teaching is not for the faint of heart. Someone’s gotta do the impossible with the unlikely. Why not me? I offer you the same Q & A if the What if I’m not a writer suspicion nags at you as often as it does me. Why not you? Let’s look at this particular neurotic’s landscape together.
Define writer. According to many, a writer is one who writes. I’m doing it now, aren’t I? Guess I’m a writer. You? If you think a writer is someone who is read. Get reading. There’s plenty research to suggest writing improves with reading. Often, when I read, I’m inspired to write back. Often I just do it. It gives me a sense of community, of somewhere to be outside my head. Even if it doesn’t really make me feel a sense of belonging, it reminds me at least that I’m not alone. If you think a writer is someone who publishes, be a publisher. Nowadays, it’s fast and free. So publish if that’s your definition of being a writer. If you think you have to be an editor to be a writer well, I find that I’m the best person to trust to keep my meaning, so I edit. But if that’s not your hang-up, we have people for this. If money’s what you lack, work out an exchange for services.
If you want to know what the difference between a writer and an author is, well, take yourself out on a wee little adventure and ask a few people. You know, the kind of man on the street interview Late Night made famous. Let me know if you discover anyone who really knows. Even if you don’t, you can write about the process and, voila, you’re a writer.
What I’ve discovered so far is that each year as Nanowrimo approaches, I go into a dither punctuated by unrealistic expectations (writing 1,621 words a day, shutting myself off from human contact – other wrimos are only technically human so contact with us at local write-ins [no matter how frequent] doesn’t count – and adding daily exercise to my routine when it’s not part of my life for months at a time). What I’ve come to understand about myself is that November is pretty much the only time I give myself permission to prioritize what I enjoy more than eating, sleeping, housekeeping (no, I don’t particularly enjoy housekeeping but a messy house interferes with my writing) or solving the world’s problems with friends and family over coffee or on the phone. If this makes me a freak, so be it. If it makes me a writer, all the more reason to indulge. All the more reason to let November’s frenzy seep into the rest of the year. All the more reason to start writing and keep writing without apology. Besides, having unrealistic expectations is what makes us human and what moves us beyond what only yesterday seemed impossible.
Look at it this way. It’s 9:30 am and I’ve already exchanged texts with a neighbor, let the dogs out, fed them and myself, dressed and am having a staring context with the unmade bed. C’est la guerre. And, with close to 1,000 words down longhand and digitized, I count that I’ve already won. I’m two-thirds of the way to impossible.
“Writing, at its best and truest, can offer solace and salvation for both readers and writers.” Roxane Gay
I would like to think I am through with hiding in plain sight, through with playing the adult equivalent of A game I played each morning in bed as a child. I would lie there, still as a corpse, covers pulled neat as a pin over my head, pillow on top, trying to make my breathing shallow enough to pass unobserved. But from whom was I hiding?
Now, I find I am hiding from myself. Yes, I’ve just been through a divorce, my second. I am tired, I am confused. Having spent so long keeping my head above water I’m clinging to the shore.
It is not the divorce that drives me but the question: How did I get here? How did I marry a man who, on our very first date…some things are too painful to say out loud.
Some lessons are too important to forget. Reliving them is what I fear most. Folding in on myself, pulling in the welcome mat, agreeing to abandon myself along with what dreams may come to replace those stillborn. This is the enemy within, the one without which the enemy without can do us no harm.
Some things one remembers. Others it’s best to pretend to forget. I write to know the difference.
The only things that make me happy are the clouds and the breezes. Here in Las Vegas, clouds and breezes locate me in my body and on the planet. They serve as reminders that I am here and now and though, thankfully, this moment will not last, here and now can be beautiful.
I have attempted therapy before, ten visits as allowed by insurance the first time. Two visits the second. In the first session, the counselor asked if Jamaican mothers leaving their children behind to work as domestics in The States wasn’t a common practice in the 60s, and if I wouldn’t mind being interviewed for her doctoral research. I scheduled our second session by phone so I could give her time she sorely needed and because I was afraid she might hurt herself if I stopped coming.
What I have learned before and since is that listening to ourselves counts for more than we know. So maybe this blog is an attempt at accountability, a further bid for truth-telling and shaming the devil. I will listen to myself now, patiently.