Ups and downs. Ups and downs. Remember when you were just about to outgrow the playground seesaw, so you’d sit on it with your friend and just try to balance it in the middle, where you weren’t squatting or high up in the air, just regulating the thing, occasionally shifting to see if you could take your feet off the ground?
It hasn’t been a whole lot of that the last three weeks. I’ve been pushing up to the tippy top and then crashing hard down into the ground, both of which happen partially at the whim of whoever your seesaw partner is.
My seesaw partners switch regularly these days: writing, parenting, partnering, work.
Life is full. Wonderfully, challengingly full.
First the down, because when you’re on a seesaw, that tends to be where you start: I got two professional rejections in the last few weeks. This is not abnormal, of course; rejection is a part of the process. These felt especially heavy both because these seemed great fits for my work and also because opportunities to try again in these same formats are infrequent. But the work was solid and, with some retooling, can be submitted elsewhere.
I push off the ground.
Then the up — amazing and good news: I have an official author page on Amazon. Within the next few weeks, the second book to which I’m contributing (So Glad They Told Me: Women On Getting Real About Motherhood) will be there as well. Despite the fact that I am one of many contributors in both books, I’m carefully enjoying this feeling of external validation. Having a space on Amazon that acknowledges my writing is heady and powerful. It also is motivating. We’ll see what books I still have in me! (And a special thanks to the customer service people at Amazon who helped me set up the page.)
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that other than that one picture I like to use across platforms, I have not yet filled out my biographical information. For that matter, neither have I been posting here or submitting too much elsewhere this month.
‘Tis the season when Life and Resolve battle it out Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robot style. Just as I get into a writing groove after completing the obligations that always pop up at the beginning of a year, the kids (or I) get sick for weeks on end. Recently it was the stomach flu, which tends to expose all my flaws as a mother and human — while no one likes dealing with stomach flu, I have an actual phobia of other people throwing up…to the point that I will change the channel if it happens on a tv show I’m watching. It gets sporty when it’s my own kids and they’re not savvy enough to make it to a bathroom. I deal, of course, because it’s about them, not me, but I am left with something I can only describe as low-grade trauma.
What’s worse is when I try to explain this phobia, people tend to think I am inviting them to tell me all of their grossest vomiting stories. I assure you, I am not.
The stomach flu, and my worries about who would succumb next, led to about six sleepless nights in a row, followed by a brief recovery period that coincided with having about ten meetings in one week, and now the kids are sniffing and coughing. They are spacing out their sick days.
The writing is almost always a casualty when there is a seismic shift in schedule and focus. I can count on about 90 solid minutes a day of writing time when everyone is healthy.
Anne Lamott posted a provocative and gorgeous piece that talks about making time for creativity, which is something I am still practicing. For me, creativity doesn’t come unless there is silence and, weirdly-to-some, complete lack of visual distraction. The sound issue makes sense to many, children home sick or the infernal skeet shooting from the (grandfathered-in and bane of my existence during the winter) range down the street for 12 hours every weekend ignite are distraction gremlins.
Noise-cancelling headphones still let the gun shot sounds in, and while I can work some of the writing process while listening to music, often I need and the children, if not heard, will work to be seen, and of course deserve to be seen and heard while sick. All bets are off, then.
So I practice blocking it out, or tuning it in, or pushing through rather than letting the seesaw crash.
The visual issue is a related but different bear. If there is clutter, my monkey brain focuses on that. If there is someone standing close by, waiting for me to finish so they get my attention, my brain focuses on that. I am training myself to be better about that, but for now I am allowing myself to want what I want and then work with what I have.
Ideally, my creative womb would be calm and clear and filled only with wonderful white noise or natural sounds.
(Which probably just made every parent on earth snort. Good luck with that!)
So the writing waits and gestates and will be noruished when I can nourish it. I’ve had many passing braindrizzles that I’ve wanted to share here, but they are, for now, jots on scraps of paper. Some are patient, some are already past their prime.
I recall, with tender amusement, the months and years I worried about inspiration, worried about having nothing to say beyond a dopey 144-character quip. And here I am with pages of ideas I wish to write, stories to tell, even a book idea, and more dopey 144-character quips than I could shake an internet at.
It seems as though I am sitting on the pile of coins Anne Lamott refers to, and I’ve got a great shovel I happen to be using as a seesaw…
See you in a few days!