Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Writing Life Self Care

Barnes & Noble

"...watching the wheels go round and round..."
 The quote is from a post-Beatles John Lennon song, because I'm in a similar dropped out, meditative State. The New Englander inside my head keeps yelling that I "ought" and "should" do lots of things, like mow and mop and scoop cat poop and write and call my repugnant congressman, so maybe what I've got currently is simply Sloth.  Who knows? I'm not a Spring time Optimist--especially this spring, where Ragnarok--at least--apparently just around the corner for our poor old 21st Century world.

Lying fallow is part of the writing life, it seems, every bit as much as the obsessed hustle of those "creative" moments, when The Spirit of Tell Me a Story takes possession. I'm still a writer, though, even if nothing is coming out, information is always coming in, whether it's just this year's peonies, lanky from over-dosing on fertilizer (I think) and the record 12 months of rain-rain-rain we've just logged here in PA, or the burst of color around the base of the Witch Hazel. Here are little moments of lovely that I'm collecting a memory of for later.


May into June  I always seem to be waiting for something. I'm wondering if it's because 50+ years ago, my new husband and I were living in a basement apartment in Boston. I was awaiting the birth of a first child. We were taking time off from college, having our baby and getting our feet under us a married couple. It was hot as the hinges of hell before a/c there in the city, and I, sweaty and fat, ironed my husbands shirts in a hallway which connected the three rooms in which we lived.

It was also the summer of the Boston Strangler, so being alone in a basement apartment for hours every day was--let us say--unnerving. We didn't have a television, only a radio, but enough scary news came, on the hour, via that. I'll never forget the moments of stepping out into the hall, listening for the sound of human activity in the laundry-cum-trash bin-area, and, finally, after deciding the coast was clear, turning and swiftly locking the door behind me before running as fast as a heavily pregnant 19 year old can go upstairs to the lobby. It was not a transition I looked forward to. I walked along the burning sidewalks to the Shop Rite many blocks away with my little, happily anticipating the shade of each and every ragged city tree.

I spent a lot of head time in either past or future back then--the mysterious trial of labor lay ahead of me as well as the gender surprise which, in those days, only came upon the birth of the baby. An only child and a bookworm, my education came not from female relatives or neighbors, but from Alan Guttmacher's Pregnancy & Childbirth, as well as a then revolutionary English book called Natural Childbirth, by Dick Grantly.

At the clinic, when I asked about this method, I was cautioned rather sharply that "American Women are too weak for that."  An epidural, I was informed, was the closest I could get to "natural."  I also had a well-worn copy of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, loaned to me by a mother of eight who my husband used to baby sit for. In the end, the anticipated drama of "going into labor," --such a standard of books and movies--never happened. One day, I rode the bus to the hospital and then was required to stay. By the time they'd given me the epidural, my son had practically arrived, so, in the end, I was glad I'd geekily studied the Grantly book with care and had learned some strategies to deal with what I was supposed to be "too weak" to endure.

Time has passed, lots of it! Those childbirth stories I can tell are part of history, fifty years past, tales that are triggered by birthdays and Call The Midwife. That hapless younger self is gone, replaced by one that is older, wiser, but doubtless just as hapless as ever. This body hurts for no discernible reason at times, but that's apparently the new normal, as entropy takes hold. We all know the jokes: "Past your sell-by date" etc. I've got several stories begun--two series books I want to complete--but it's all on hold.

Zauberkraft: Black
(And Where oh Where is Zauberkraft: Green?)

The characters have walked away; they aren't speaking to me, not telling me their "thrilling tales of yesteryear." I used to fret when this happened, to do writing exercises and tricks to jump-start the flow. One thing I've learned over the years, though is that worrying doesn't solve a single thing. I've also learned that sometimes, sitting on the patio, watching the clouds flowing this way, and then that, while the  jet stream tries to figure out what it's trying to accomplish in this part of Pennsylvania feels sufficient. 

Here I sit, enough to eat, roof over my head, surrounded by green--the weary old trees with holes full of starlings and woodpeckers, and the spry young trees, ones "I've known from nut and acorn" like the Ent, Treebeard, in LOTR.  It's sufficient, the light and the green.

           "To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower
             Hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour."
                ~~William Blake

I've realized The Muse will come back when (and if) She/He/It feels like it. In the meantime, try on a dragon tail; lighten up, reminisce with small pieces concerning pains and pleasures past, enjoy your bright little spark of human consciousness--and scribble on!   

~~Juliet Waldron
For all my historical novels:

1 comment:

  1. Happens, Mine is on slow down but still chugging. Love peonies. Mine are wonderful this year unlike last year, The words will come.


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