Hot day began outside, sitting in my comfortable blue outdoors rocker, sipping coffee. Watching the birds at the feeder. Blue Jay trumps all and the little ones disappear. Gazing at the labyrinth, too lazy to pace those 55 steps in and then 55 steps out. I’ll do it later, I think. When the sun moves on. Trumpette nudges me with the mew of a baby kitten. Why is it her “voice” hasn’t changed now that she is two years old? Still a rambunctious little beast. I’ll consider a name change when she changes. Just found the C.S. Lewis quote on a friend’s post in Facebook. “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” Something to think about. Morning pages, that’s what I sometimes write to get my mind flowing for the day. A place to dump the brainstorm that goes on inside. But now I try a new tool. If you manage to read to the end of this piece, you will see inside my head, all that I think and consider for this ten minutes only. That’s a scary thought. But, have you tried it? Would you dare to post yours below? This one seems tame. Maybe I am being careful about my thoughts knowing that I plan to share this exercise. Maybe next time I’ll use Quick Write (thank you, Len at Twenty Minutes a Day for the idea and letting me use “Quick Write” as a tag). Warning to my readers, since I made a “Quick Write” tag, I may have to do this again. Perhaps I’ll find a prompt to follow instead of just dumping my mindless chatter on the page. I cheated. I looked at the timer. I have two minutes left to bare my soul and bore my reader. It’s a hot day, getting hotter by the minute. The air outside is suffocating with smoke from the California fires. I long for rain to clear the air, water my plants. I’m at a loss for words. You don’t want to know what I’m thinking now. Let go of that thought. Move on. Okay, it’s your turn. Write me a 10 minute brain dump in the comments. You don’t have ten minutes. Okay, 10 words will do… or 5… or just one little word so I know you made it to the end of this.
You have made a lot of progress in the last few years. Remember that stack of journals when things first started to happen? But it goes back farther than that. What about that 5 year journal with scattered entries, the one with the tiny lock you kept in your nightstand during your early teens? Last time you looked at it you wondered what all the abbreviations meant. M.A.M. for one. It might have meant “mad at mom,” or perhaps “mad at Marilyn.” You did remember the first M stood for mad. Most of the entries were short sentences, “I finished my book report,” “We had a pajama party at Vickie’s,” “I babysat for the neighbors last night.” More a calendar of life with little emotion.
There was a break from journaling for a few years, the need to write fixed in letters to Carol. You have the ones she sent to you. Does she still have yours? Probably not but you have a dozen years of response to your letters to her, each one dropping a small clue as to what was going on. They begin with happy memories but evolve into “come and visit me so we can talk about it” messages.
The journal writing began again in the mid-seventies, after the boys were born. Reflections of being a mother, trying to make things work, a few essays mixed in from that advanced English class at DVC. Another break and then the Tarot phase journal, followed by an AA step journal. You scanned them all a couple of years ago and threw away the actual papers not wanting anyone to find them. At least you had the sense to keep them in digital format. Safely tucked away in case you ever wanted to write a memoir.
The time has arrived. It’s been a tedious process to put those missives in chronological order and make some sense of it. Reading through the work brings mostly tears but a few healthy bouts of laughter. How minor the problems were in the beginning. Remember how many times you packed your bags thinking you would head back to Michigan and life would be easier? Learning about Jason’s addiction? Dealing with your own drinking, trying to decide – am I an alcoholic? “Fake it until you make it,” they said in AA. They meant for you to fake your sobriety but you turned it around, deciding if you faked your drinking experience, the program would work, a twisted attempt at denial of the real problem.
But when you sat down to write the book, it seemed to be all about Jason. Then the focus shifted to Chris. And then there was Eric. And now JJ. You told their secrets. That’s okay, it was a shitty first draft. You’re supposed to write it all out and no one needs to read it. But this is a memoir. It’s about you. You are the narrator. You told their story and now it’s time to make it yours.
Remember when you said, there is no resolution? And then someone in your tribe suggested resolution may come with the writing. Or, it’s possible that there may be no resolution. How disappointing that felt. You wanted that lightning bolt to zap straight into the manuscript, erase the past and manifest into a miraculous new life, what you thought would be a normal life.
Sifting through those first 90,000 words the patterns began to emerge. When you began this re-write, you were at a turning point of sorts. You began to feel like the hub of a shredded wheel, picking up the pieces in the freeway of life, trying to glue it back together. Were you the common denominator, and therefore the source of everyone’s misery? Did you lay out those spikes of disaster? Or were you drawn to the center of all adversities, never having to look at yourself? You think: It’s not you. It’s them. Why write that?
Dig a little deeper. Keep digging. The answer will come. You are getting closer. So close the theme is right there, within your reach. Just a little more energy, one chapter at a time, you can do it. Listen to the sages in your life. Follow their path. Forget about the results for now. It’s not a marathon that will end at the finish line. Growth continues, published or not. Write for yourself. Give yourself permission to self-publish that first shitty draft – just for yourself. Hold it in your hand knowing how far you have travelled. Accept what was and turn it into something powerful. Put it out there to make a difference for someone who still struggles.
You’ve got this. Push that inner critic aside (that would be me, you know).
I discovered I am not unique. Just like other writers who start a blog because they were told that we must build an online presence before we publish our books: I started my blog – my posts were fewer and fewer each month – I posted excuses for my absences. Now I find out that this might have been my biggest mistake:
Static author websites are great, and you’d be crazy not to have one. But starting an author blog is a different (and often tragic) story. In fact, your author blog might even kill your writing. There are hundreds of authors who started blogs, churned out posts for a year, and let it come to a dead stop.
Many of you already know about my oldest son from a previous post, This Man Is My Son . I have another son with different challenges. While my oldest son still lives in the imprisonment of addiction, my other son lives imprisoned behind bars. Every week or so I receive an envelope prominently stamped across the front of it in bold black ink “__________ Prison.” It breaks my heart. At first every envelope contained a hand written poem. I typed each of those poems and published them as “Poems with Thorns” a few years ago. There are two more volumes waiting to be processed.
If you happen to be a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the book for free. The Kindle version is only $1.99. I love to read on my Kindle but its heart warming to hold my son’s book in my hands. I’m giving 3 readers the opportunity to have a copy of the book. All I ask is that you consider leaving a review. All you need to do is be one of the first three to claim the book here. Note, the book is written under a pen name, Onslow Mansbridge.
I look forward to your comments and it would be fantastic if you would be kind enough to post an honest review.
So I disappeared again. This time I fell in a rabbit hole. Deep in the hole. I fell and I couldn’t climb out. This time it’s a new addiction. I blame it on my Bullet Journal and all the bullet journal junkies out there.
It all started with one A5 Leuchttrum1917 journal. The journals multiplied. Everything from the Rhodia journal to some inexpensive notebooks from Michael’s piled up on the corner of my desk.
Then came the quest for the perfect pen. One that wouldn’t bleed through the paper. One that could write in any notebook without ghosting. One that writes with the smoothness of oil on a cabbage leaf. (Metaphors are my downfall). I spent so much money on fountain pens, cartridges and ink that I could’ve bought a Namiki… well maybe a Visconti. For now I’ll settle for my TWSBI and see if big brother is listening.
I’m living in a nightmare of stickers, washi tape, stencils, pencil boxes, dual point markers, rubber stamps, ink pads, dashboards, and pen holders. Every time I get near a store, especially a craft store with aisles catering to people like me, my car stalls right there in the space closest to the door. I can’t help it. I need just one more pen, one more sticker. I need to find the one thing that makes my Bullet Journal better than anybody else’s. I need to stop stalking Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube #bulletjournals that feed my habit.
I’ve been sneaking home before anyone else gets there, hiding my stash. But I got caught. I had to confess. I promised my husband that I would have a “no spend” March. But wait – it’s still February – does it count if I shop online today but delivery happens in March?