Sunday, April 28, 2013

The outlines of our lives

Life and its shifting dynamics are at work here. The writer in me went quiet and the navel-gazer in me let her because sometimes a good hushing up is just what I need to get straight. The inner turmoil that once fueled rapid keystrokes and even more rapid backspacing medicated into a sort of calm, I had an excuse for not looking too closely. At anything.

And then something stirred. Was it because I went down a dosage in my anti-depressants? Was it the reintroduction of Phentermine into the soup of my brain chemistry? Was it that suggestion of something new? How could it carry the mark of familiarity like a threadbare-at-the-elbows sweater, favorite pair of jeans, the worry stone in my pocket? It did. I'd heard that one before.

But that suggestion made something come loose, peeled back a layer. A corner of a layer. Just enough for a glimpse of a memory. It forced me to think, to remember, to take note even if I wasn't ready to write about it because that would put it down in black and white and the very grayness of it compelled me to delve more, to reveal something to myself.

Until the light was so bright it couldn't be ignored.

The telling part isn't coming easy so I turn to novels. Reading them, listening to them, thinking about them. But not writing them. Not even considering writing them. A consumer, not a producer. A taker, not a giver. A seeker of inspiration. Two or three at a time, barely pausing to take out the last CD from one audio book before inserting the first of a new one. Not time to digest an ending, just pushing on in a mad quest for words that help me show (not tell!) what's going on.

And there is much to tell, but I've lost my confidence to tell it. And then that nagging, glass half empty question - who gives a shit anyway? This life isn't the least bit interesting to anyone who isn't living it.

Cast your story out into the ocean. A message in a bottle would have just as much impact in the grand scheme of things, you silly woman with the tiny life who uses cliches like grand scheme of things.

And then I found myself feeling a little put out to read about the process of writing those novels, the writerly angst, the push and pull, the very extrusion of words onto paper, the utter fucking sausage making of it all.

I was becoming unmoored, cut loose and drifting from the anchor I'd gotten so used to that it felt like a part of me. The way I'd come to define myself, the community I'd been a part of were slipping away. Self-imposed exile how I love thee. Undefine myself, erase the box, delete, delete, delete.

Now what?

Work. Friends. The impossible commute. Family. The time warp that happens each spring as we race headlong and calendar-packed into the end of the school year. Baseball. Chloe's graduation. Friday lunches with friends and the laughter. How long had I gone without laughing, truly laughing, with friends?

It may have been a change that did me good. Out of my head and into life. Scary, of course, because it makes one vulnerable, but it's the bad with the good, right? Every good story needs both.

My observations turned outward because introspection was comfortably tucked away in a drawer somewhere. Tamped down through the miracle of modern medicine, safe distanced and secured.

I thought about the things I could write here.

The heron next to the pond I drive past every day on my way to work. The one day that another heron was there, too, dancing some sort of avian tango, long, narrow beaks pointed in opposite directions, wings outspread, parallel, slow movement to the right, up to the edge of the pond. I slowed down and watched for as long as I could.

Two tiny calves head-butting each other within a loose circle of other calves nursing on their mothers, a fog providing a backdrop, filtering the rising sun. That would have made a real keeper of a photo, but moments like that move too fast. Better to capture it in words. But I didn't. Not until now.

The lover, thinking that he's unobserved, burying his face in his lover's hair, breathing in her scent to hold with him until ----

The way a field of crimson clover looks like Georgia red clay when you view it at an angle. The way the world has suddenly greened up almost like it's been colorized by Hollywood.

The new stories, other people's stories, those nuggets of detail and even broad strokes, that you know you're already filing away for future reference, threads to be woven into the fabric of some story when you're ready to start writing again.

I think I'm ready.


  1. smiles...inspiration all around us, we just have to be ready to see it you know...go for it...

  2. I'm so glad that you're back.

  3. Hello, hello. Nice to see this pop up in my reader today.

    Perhaps you should reconsider fiction, and go for fact - write about your life. It has always served you well, at least in my (perhaps limited) experience of you. Just saying... and saying with love.

    Whatever you do, know it is always great to see you here, or anywhere.

  4. sounds like you're getting all juiced up! Oh boy, more good writing coming!

  5. Can your mojo talk to my mojo? My [writing] mojo is off in a corner whining.

    This is so very evocative of your world, almost a sense-memory. (I almost wanted to move to Georgia. Almost.)

  6. That past we all have versions of continues to be a mirror we can only see through darkly. Staying still long enough to be able to pull out the light and color of those memories, yes, to make something worthy of the pain that's birthing them, is an excellent goal to strive for.

  7. So everything is basically allegory for Motel Hell. It all makes sense!

  8. hmmmmmm, very reflective, indeed.. I guess I can say that the outline of my life has been OK......but the first rough draft has been a bitch. I think my dog even refused to piss on it. Oh, well. I'll just wait for the DVD to come out.....see how it ends then.

  9. Don't be too hard on yourself for taking time for quietness. It can be important, too....listening, observing, learning...we need to be quiet for all of those to happen. xo

  10. Lisa -

    I can relate so much to this post. I too have been pretty silent on my blog since January. And I haven't been able to write a single word for my novel since December. And I have found the longer I've stayed away, the harder it's been to come back.

    "And there is much to tell, but I've lost my confidence to tell it."

    Um. Yes. VERY MUCH SO.

    And I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to hear that you're ready to come back to writing and telling stories. I have missed you a great deal!

  11. Hey, a writer writes because he or she needs to. And sometimes you need to put down the pen and just watch or read or contemplate or something.

  12. Hope you get back to writing because you enjoy it and want to do it - sounds like you are getting there again! I see things and think if it is postable, too. Your musings are always so much more interesting than mine, though!

  13. Don't stop girl, you've got a great rhythm going here. Don't stop!

    And yet I hear you, so pretentious to even consider writing, to even put yourself out there with words. So often, I wonder why on earth I do it. It is so hard to keep convincing yourself at times.

    So just get on with it! Xcat

  14. Just know that we're all ready for you!

  15. I stopped writing for four years, and when I needed to write again, I found that the years were not wasted. Whatever in me sorted itself out in that time, also gave me my voice. Reading is probably best! I hope you have a great summer and read lots of books you enjoy. When you decide to write, I look forward to reading!

    All the best to you, Lisa H. Golden! (Now officially thanked in my officially published novel.)

  16. "sometimes a good hushing up is just what I need to get straight"

    Miss you xo :)

  17. You're a gifted and inspiring writer even when you're writing about not being able to write!


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