Sunday, November 27, 2011
This And That
This and that is what I've done today. Washed the dogs and cleaned the tub. Watered the porch plants and the transplanted spirrhea and put the sprinkler on a few flower beds, more for the lizards and birds and squirrels than for the plants. I worry about those animals so much- where do they get their water now when it is so very dry? I do not know so I give them some.
I mopped the hallway, newly freed from its rug. I swept the porch. I planted some rooted plants into pots.
And then I came out to my office. This room which long ago was the kitchen of the house and which, since then, has been used as a studio and a writing room that I know of. The studio of a painter, the writing room of a...writer.
A real writer, you know, one who makes her living writing books which get published, which have made her money, which paid for the bathroom I take my showers in, my pretty, pretty bathroom.
I haven't done squat in this office for so very long. Oh, I come out here with Owen. It's another play room for him. He loves the little Hula Girl candles, the mermaids, the madonnas, the little wooden elephant. All of my totems although he does not yet know who Johnny Weismuller is or Frida Kahlo either, and the map of Cozumel means nothing to him, nor does the watercolor of Tulum.
When I come out here with him, I get depressed. The dirt, the neglect, the signs of animals being here to chew, to steal fabric to make nests.
So this afternoon, I cleaned it up. I moved out a few things which do not bring me happiness. I boxed up old Zip drives and an old printer that hasn't been used in years. I wiped surfaces clean and gave a polish to the old wooden file cabinet. I swept.
And then I brought my lap top out and sat down. To write.
But what I really did was to find the document of a novel I've written (Lord, how many novels HAVE I written?) and start to go through it again.
I finished it quite some time back, and mainly to prove to myself I could. I have never been happy with the ending. I was never very happy with the whole thing. I started writing it as a form of anger-therapy, truthfully, and never meant to go anywhere with it. Gave myself permission to write the worst novel ever written and just get out the petty anger I was feeling at the time.
And when I started rereading today, I realized that, well, I don't think it's that horrible. But here's the thing- it turns out that the book is about a woman who cannot think of herself as a writer. She is a mother, a wife. She writes in an office just like this one. She lives in this house. She is writing a book about lives which have been lived in this house. She is me, of course, and she is not me, of course.
She is confronted with a "real" writer who at one time lived in the house, who wants to know if she can come and visit it again because she, too, is writing about the house.
Which makes this woman, this would-be-can't-be a writer angry as hell.
And no, the real writer who used to live here never has come here to visit that I know of since I've lived here. But she did write me once to ask if I thought this house had spirits in it because she was writing a book about the house. Even though she had left it, she had a book to write about it. Which made me angry because it's not her house any more, even if she did live here. Even if she did write here, even if she did build that beautiful bathroom.
And she did. She wrote the book. It got published. I've written about it. Hell, I've written about this whole situation right here on the blog. I've written about writing and I've written about the anger and I've written about the book the writer wrote and it's all like a twisted knot of worms. This parallel universe rubbing up and intersecting with that one, this real life becoming twisted with another person's real life.
This house, this room, this space, these trees, this town, those roses, these words, my words, her words.
All of it. And I let so much anger out in the book I wrote. Anger about writing, about not writing. Anger about other things. Sadness, too. Those two pointed weights on the scale which balance each other out and in rereading this book (or a great deal of it) I feel it all again. The real writer's book about this house is filled with what we call magical realism which let's face it- some people can write and some people cannot.
Hank can write it. I'll tell you that.
I really do not have a point here. There is no point except to say that this is an issue I have not resolved one bit. This writing thing. This feeling of I will never be a writer even though I know better. I write here, every day. Sometimes it is not so great, but I put it down, I send it out. More than that, though, I view everything through my writer-eyes. Can this be written about? Can that? Can this be made into a story and if so, can I tell it properly?
When I cleaned up this room, I threw away three damn awards I'd gotten for writing. One year I decided to actually participate in a local writing contest. I submitted fiction, memoir, and poetry. I won first place for each. I was high as a kite.
Then. Nothing. I have submitted nothing at all anywhere since then and I do not feel that it was any sort of accomplishment. I think I am prouder of the night I sat out here and churned out a short story while a hurricane was approaching and the wind blew so hard that the trees bowed almost to the ground. I don't know that anyone's read that story.
I look around this room and I want to make it mine again. To shine up my totems with my gaze. To wear out the floor under the chair where I sit my ass. To keep the floor swept. To come out here as a statement to the fact that there is a part of me which is not defined as wife or mother or grandmother, even as my grandson busies himself with collecting and arranging everything from paper clips to madonnas.
And I want to say this to each of you- to all of US- we only need to let ourselves. To let ourselves have the dream of what writing can mean to us all. Because I know you have it too. I know you do. If you are here, if you are reading this, you do. And some of you do not need to hear that. Some of you have written and been published and you never had so much as a damn chair to call your own.
But you did it anyway. You DO it anyway. You write out your anger and your joy and your fears and your loves and your sorrows and your recipes and your footprints in the snow.
The room is clean. It's a start. I've said this so many times but tonight I realize that I have written books. In that room and in others and on my lap on a yellow legal tablet.
I have done that.
I can do it again. Even though, EVEN THOUGH it brings me more pleasure than I think I deserve. In a room I don't really believe I deserve but to which I hold on to with fingers of grasping steel.
That's what I have to say tonight.
I have written it out. I am sending it to you. May we all slide the cover of dust off of our dreams.
They are ours and if we have dreamed them, we deserve them.
I swear. You too. Me too. I swear.