Friday, May 4, 2007


I love words. I love books and poems and any piece of writing where words are put together in a way that forces me to think of things differently. I love good writing. One of the greatest joys in my life is reading an amazing book. I'd rather do that than almost anything.

When I was in college I majored in English even though people told me that it wasn't so lucrative and that I would never make much money. Looking back, I'm still glad I majored in English, and I'm still glad I read all that literature, and I'm still glad I wrote all those persuasive essays. I knew back then what I loved, and nobody could persuade me otherwise for good or bad. It was not a wise choice in terms of career and money money. It was a wise choice for me, a person addicted to the written word.

I didn't read everything my professors told me to. I hated Saul Bellow and Joan Didion. I refused to read "Executioner's Song" by Norman Mailer. I struggled through Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackery. There were some real downers. books that probably didn't help my mental state of being. I was often distracted by my life, job, and selfish pursuits, and didn't get through all the books I was supposed to. But I got through some great novels and read some life-touching poems. "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston made my heart do flip-flops. I didn't always remember the details of books, but I remembered how they made me feel.

It's natural for people who read a lot to want to write, and I did that, too. I'm still doing it--thus this blog. I get a charge out of creating something permanent, something black and white, something that isn't erasable the minute it's finished. So much of what I do gets undone immediately, but writing is archival. It will be there when all the laundry's dirty again, when all the groceries are eaten. For me, writing has become crucial, almost critical. It took me many years to discover that the missing link to my fulfillment was writing, but I'm only half way through my life. I still have another 40 years to write!

I also wrote something last year and the last part of 2005. I wrote a young adult novel. I still can't believe I wrote a novel. I had an incredible burst of creative energy and managed to crank out 70,000 words. I have no training on how to write a novel. I've just read a lot of them that inspire me. I have no training on how to get a novel published, but I'm working on that at a snail's pace. I have no idea what to do with the document that sits in my computer and calls to me. Not a day goes by when I don't hear it telling me to come back. How could you just leave me like that, it says. We spent a year and a half together. You loved me.

What should I do? It's almost like I've buried something alive. I've buried something that was so real, so vital for so many months. Now it just sits. Waiting. Waiting for me to open it up, to read it again, to change things, fix things, and get swept up again.

It's like a love relationship. You never forget the raw, aching process of detaching yourself from someone you once loved, but you try to concentrate on what good will come of it. You try not to think of the closeness and the words spoken or the time spent together. Try as you might, those thoughts seep from the back of your mind to front and center, and there's not much you can do about it.

That's how it is with me and "my book." I had to detach myself a bit. I was getting too involved, too worried about what would happen to my beloved creation. Would someone else ever like it, like it enough to publish it, enough to read it? Those questions were too overwhelming at times, and the universal advice I got from writing workshops and Darren was to put it away for a while. Put it on the back burner so to speak. So, how long is a while? Am I ready to let it out of its cage again, ready to chase it around, to agonize over it, improve it, let it consume my time? Or can I keep it at bay, keep it from eating up my life? I don't know.

The hard thing about writing is that it takes up your time, as much time as you'll let it. There is no compensation for time spent, just the hope of future success and the joy of the writing process. Some days that's enough. Other days it's not.

My second daughter, Samantha, is a good reader. She doesn't read voraciously, but she reads. It's not like it's an option in our house. My oldest daughter, Adrienne, and I have been telling her for months that she just had to read "Twilight" by Stephenie Meyer.

"What's it about?" she asked.

"About a girl who falls in love with a vampire," we told her.

"Gross. Why would anyone do that?"

"Well, he's very hot," Adrienne told her.

"So what! That's disgusting," she yelled. And subsequently refused to read the book until she realized that she was the only one of her friends who hadn't read it. Then, I had to get my copy of "Twilight" back from the 11th person I loaned it to immediately so she could start reading about Edward (the vampire) and Bella (the girl who is besotted by the vampire).

When she got her hands on it I didn't see her for three days. She even refused to go to school at one point, claiming that I had put my life on hold while I was reading it and so did Adrienne, and that she deserved the same consideration. She had a point. My life went on pause when I was engrossed in "Twilight" and now hers was. I was the one who asked her to read it after all. So I let her stay home. I thought of all the As on the last report card and figured why not.

She was lost, besotted herself in the power of a good book. I was secretly delighted that she was falling in love with words. I was creating another word addict, in my own home, with my own child.

Tee hee. It felt fabulous.

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