It’s 8:55 at night, Monday, September 5th, and I’m sitting here in the dark with my laptop in my reasonably clean bedroom—only one small laundry basket of clothes to put away for a change. We just got back home from our annual Florida trip a few hours ago, and what am I doing? Writing. Like, really actually writing. I don’t think I’ve actually written anything in ages. Yeah, I know I’ve been sticking up posts periodically for a little more than a year now, but in all of those posts, to my mind, only a small handful stand out as real writing. A ridiculously small handful.
Yes, I know. I feel the absurd urge to pick the lint out of my belly button right now. Self-reflection can be a good thing, and I’m in a self-reflecting mood lately.
So, anyways—Gabe, that’s for you. Dr. Carlson…or was it Dr. Hunt? One of them, I don’t remember which, promised I could make up words when I had my English degree. Well, I’ve had it for thirteen years now, so suck it.
What was I saying?
Oh, yeah… anyways, my writing. I used to write all the time
before I became a teacher. When I turned all teacher-like, the only real writing I did was tests and essay assignments. Granted, I made some hella-good assignment sheets, and I can write a lesson plan and a unit plan like no one’s business. And my long-range plans… damn, you’ve never seen educational writing so fine, but a story for the sake of a story? I told them all day long. I taught them all day long. I could explain them all day long, but write one of my own—there wasn’t time for that. I spent too much time reading my students’ works to have the energy much less the desire to write my own, so that talent (Can you say that you have a talent yourself, or does someone else have to tell you that you have a particular talent for something before you’re considered talented? Or are they two different things entirely? Clearly, I have issues.) languished. Then I became a mom, and who the hell has time to write when they’re teaching and mothering.
So, long and boring, belly-staring story short, I’ve missed writing
purely for the sake of writing.
After staring out the window on our drive South for more than six hours, thinking of a million things I wanted to say and all the different ways I could say them, composing the lines word-by-word in my head at what felt like the speed of light, wishing for my lap top, or even a pen and a napkin—neither of which I had—I asked B to grab me a pen and a notebook from Walmart. He was going anyway to pick up a pack of ‘Lil Swimmers for the Girl, so it wasn’t too much of imposition. They didn’t even have to cost a lot. This is all how I found myself on Saturday morning in possession of a twenty-cent notebook and a dollar-and- ten-cent pen, scribbling down every thought that flew through my mind, not to mention every sign- cow-tree-speed trap- and drive-thru liquor store I saw.
That notebook was a Godsend. Yeah, my hand and arm hurt like hell—carpal tunnel syndrome is a bitch—but my brain was happy. My muse was sitting on the upholstered seat next to me, whispering in my ear while we flew down the road towards our destination. The next thing I knew, I’d written five full cramped, illegible pages in less than an hour—five pages of incomprehensible and utterly silly observations. And in attempting to read those observations later, I realized that these were things I needed to write about. The truth is, I don’t have to do it. I don’t have to write them. I could let them sit in that notebook for…well…forever, until someone comes across them, attempts to read them and gives up because they’re totally illegible to anyone not skilled in deciphering carpal-tunnel-chicken-scratch-style writing. But the thing is I don’t want to do that. I’ve taken that route for twelve years, and it’s old and tired.
It’s time to cage the paper and free the pen.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Heaven help us all.