Thursday, January 15, 2015

Messy Boxes

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It's the beginning of a new year. It's my first post of the new year. Yet the new year is new only in reference to dates. Life hasn't changed; the simple reason being that I've carried it with me into 2015. And I'm finding that my life has grown a bit messy with regards to the roles that I've been called to play, particularly the roles of my writing and my mothering.

I've always been militantly intentional about keeping my writing separate from everything else. When around my kids, my mothering hat takes precedence--and I don't mind. It seems built into my hat-wearing system. I can be anywhere, doing anything, and if I hear my kids, they will direct my attention away from what I'm doing. I'm not complaining about this, nor do I begrudge them my attention. I love them. I love being their mom. I love mothering. However, when it comes to writing, I can't have my mind splitting off and opening the Mothering box when I need to be attending to the Writing box.

Thus Writing and Mothering were kept in their respective boxes--the Writing box being opened only when the Mothering box was closed and I had a quiet house or friendly coffee shop at my disposal.

My boxes, however, have gotten messy. They're intermingling. And, at least initially, it surprised me and even made me a little nervous. It started, actually, when I used my daughter's name as one of my characters in my novella that was published last year. She was 7 at the time, and suddenly aware that when I said "I'm writing", I am actually producing something. It isn't a nebulous distraction that results in my disappearance for unspecified periods of time. She now understands that I am writing stories. Stories that other people read. And that seems to have piqued her interest. Because now she's often asking me about my writing. About the stories I'm writing. About the people in the stories I'm writing.

"What do you write about?" she asked.

"About things that I see or people I meet or places I visit."

"Did you write about my messy room?"


"Did you write about all the firewood I carried from the shed up to the back porch?"


"Did you write about the toaster strudel I dropped on the kitchen floor this morning?"


"So, what do you write about again?"


Obviously, her ego-centricity (which is specific to a child her age) is still figuring itself out. But, just as she is aware of my Writing box, I am aware of her interest in my Writing box. And I like it. I like that I am able to show her that words matter. That words have power. That words transcend the boundaries of time and place and race and gender and religion.

Right now she may not understand all that, but by letting my Mothering and my Writing boxes intermingle, I find that both benefit from the exchange.

To be sure, there will be times when I will closet myself away in my Writing box of the imaginary and the literary. When the Mothering box will close and I will step away from it for a while (even happily, perhaps). But I'm finding that the hard lines I once drew between the two don't have to be so hard any more. I haven't struck the perfect balance by any means--and I'm sure I'll never perfectly master that--yet there's an unexpected freedom in the mess that I'm coming to accept and even enjoy.

I hope your New Year has begun as hopeful-y and as intermingle-y as mine!


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  1. Your post made me smile since I'm familiar with the dilemma. The first book I wrote took twenty-some years because of my kids. Now I know if I want to write, I'll have to sometimes do it standing at the kitchen counter with my laptop writing in five minute bursts while the grandkids eat breakfast. Or, with my laptop on the porch swing while the grandkids play in the yard. But that's just fine. The people in our lives come first. I know we won't regret it. :)

    1. You're so right, Danni. No regrets over time spent with people we love. Glad you've been able to find a system for writing in your busy life!


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