I am turning to writing more and more often in order to express myself. Given that I have a degree in writing, this should come as no surprise to anyone, especially myself.
I am now journaling every day when I wake up, and just before I fall asleep.
I am now composing my blog posts over the course of several days, and editing them.
I have recently written A Poem. (Be afraid. Be very afraid.)
These are things I have not done for some time. For over a decade I have been occupying my time with (and defining myself by) my children. As important as child-raising and human-socializing and person-educating can be, it doesn’t take away from the importance of my Prime Directive, which is to treat yourself kindly and use the resulting energy to treat others kindly. This life is a bumpy ride, for which I believe we are each issued only one ticket, and we need to be each other’s shock absorbers. (And I’m finding out as I proceed through life that there is a lot of shock to absorb. There is a lot of pain out there, both having been suffered and awaiting the suffering of.)
I have found it interesting over the last few years that when I meet virtually with old friends, they don’t ask if I’m married. They don’t ask if I have kids. They don’t ask if I’m working or studying. Without memorable exception, they have all asked the same question of me: “Are you still writing?”
It gave me pause.
Did journaling count? I have kept journals off and on over the years — but mostly off in recent years. (So I was kind of hoping that journaling didn’t count.)
Did scrapbooking count? For a while there I was designing pages and describing events so our memories would be easier to summon in the future.
Did blogging count? I started Chocolate Sheep in 2006? 2007? after writing a monthly e-mail newsletter called Wisconsin Crafter.
Did social media count? I have posted approximately 12,300 posts on Ravelry since I joined the site on September 27, 2007. On that site, which now has over 3 million members, I have started groups, adminned groups, modded groups, participated in groups, and lurked in groups. I have been on Facebook since (apparently, according to Facebook) sometime in 2009. I can’t even count how many notes, status updates, private messages, and comments I’ve written there.
Did they mean, Had I written a novel? or Had I published my short stories? or Had a written something else, something “official”?
I think what they really meant to ask was whether or not I was still myself — whether I had kept on doing the thing that defined me as “me” to them. They were checking in to find out if I were the same person they had known years ago, and whether or not time had changed me. I’m pretty sure they didn’t want to see my unfinished novel (and I’m certain I didn’t want to show it to them). They didn’t want to read my scrapbooks or see the hand-stamped cards I’d made. They were touching base about one thing they were certain was still true.
I didn’t want to disappoint them, so I said “yes.” It seemed very important that I say “yes.”
Exactly why was it important that I live up to [what I thought were] their expectations?
I wanted to be the same person. I wanted to be someone who hadn’t given up her dreams in the face of life and its challenges. I wanted to be that writer who kept on writing, no matter what life had thrown at her. And since nobody was demanding to see any evidence — such as links to articles I’d written for The New Yorker, perhaps — nobody was the wiser.
But really…. I really wanted to be that person. So over time, I have started writing again. I started different blogs in order to focus on different topics. (And I also discovered that I really enjoy the creative process of setting up a new blog. I have set up ten of them. Really, I can stop anytime I want to. It’s totally under control.)
So here I am, writing about writing. And while you can call yourself anything that you want, I personally find it easier to accept the label “writer” after I’ve clicked on the “publish” button.
I’ve also started reading again — new books, classic books, fiction, nonfiction, intriguing books on display at the library, my kids’ books. I’m getting new stories, words, and writers into my head. Instead of comforting myself by reading my favorite stories over and over, I’m gently reading my way out of my box. I’m also reading books about new ways to think about life, the universe, and everything — including thinking itself. I have purchased three new bookcases for my personal space alone (and applied Eminent Domain to acquire one from my eldest son’s room), and they are spilling over before I’ve even had the chance to bring up the many boxes of books that have been stored in the basement for the last several years. Probably for several years too long. Anyway, they can’t come up into the light until I have somewhere safe to put them, and we’re still pretty crowded here, topside.
And yes, I’m still knitting…. looky here! This week it became increasingly obvious that I wasn’t going to have nearly enough yarn to complete Wingspan with even the two skeins I had, so on Tuesday one of my errands was to find a complementary color in the same weight to do the neckline edging. I didn’t get any college scholarship money on my color-matching talents, so I was a little nervous about the skein I’d picked. I took the project and the extra yarn to knit night to set some groupthink on it, and lo! and behold! they said that it was good! I proceeded to join the new yarn and knit six rows as quickly as I could, but with each row taking about 30 minutes, I knew I wouldn’t have time to cast off right then. I took care of that task on Wednesday afternoon, then ever so promptly wove in all the ends. I threw it around my neck and fell in love with it immediately.
And ah, there is so much more to knit… and to write. But tomorrow I’m going back to campus to study my calculus before it’s too late.