Friday, May 22, 2009

Rough Drafts

Pages and pages of colorful construction paper covered my small square desk. My hands worked the scissors through the paper as I contemplated my cover art.

"Can I use your stapler?" I had asked my teacher.



My requests were met with her sweet tea-stained smile and a nod.

She got me. At one time, she probably was me.

While all the other children sat hunched-back at their desks, composing their stories, I was done.

I had crafted what I knew to be a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of epic proportions--which was why I was getting a jump start and working on my cover art.

And no, cover art design was not part of the assignment. But, I was clearly an overachiever. The words had been effortless. I didn't speak much in class, but my words always found a home on the page. I felt the hot glare of students as I bounded around the room looking for art supplies.

It felt good.

Numbers may have abandoned me (as made evident by my pencil jabs and scribblings on math worksheets), but words were forever my friends.

Several nights ago I sat in the big "leather" chair opposite the computer screen. I stared at it, pleading for inspiration. My hands reached for the keys and pulled back.


Well, someone needs to clean that up!

So I did. For nearly an hour I cleaned my keyboard and computer desk, reorganized my bookshelf and vacuumed the office.

I sat down once again. The screen saver was mesmerizing.

I got nothing, I muttered to myself. But, I forced myself to put something down. Anything. Three words. And a title. DRAFT.

And off to bed I went.

Where are my words? Where did they go?

Though at times I fancy myself a writer (or writer wannabe), I don't own that title. But, I do still own my desire to capture my life in words. Yet, they escape me over and over. The few that remain end up in the darkness of a draft, waiting to be plucked from a sad oblivion where they can become another bone in the body of a story.

Poor words. They float with purpose in my head, yet as they ready themselves to pour out onto the page, they become lost, directionless and seemingly resentful.

I watch as JR moves across the floor with excitable precision. His eyes dart from me to his father. I can tell he is yanking and pulling at an idea in his head. His growing curiosity. His uncanny problem-solving (diaper=sling--I kid, but you know it'll happen). His ever-increasing power over his weary parents. I want to write about it.

She never stops moving. Unlike her brother, who barely lifted a foot while safely ensconced in my belly, she uses my insides to conduct what I can only assume is fetal aerobics or maybe kickboxing. The other night I sang to her. Her movements slowed. Either she had locked her hands over her ears or she was lulled by my voice. I choose to believe the latter. Either way, I wanted to write about it.

The final day of my mom's group commenced with a large group of hormonal SAH mommies congregating in a church hall. Food, red carpet, an awards show. And tears. So many tears I had to stifle a laugh from the overwhelming sound of sobs and snotty sniffles. I bit the insides of my mouth, desperate to belong. No tears. Nothing. I thought of lost kittens and the ending of La Bamba. Nothing. So desperate was I not to let the growing giggle escape, that in the end I grabbed a tissue and dramatically blotted my tearless face. I wanted so much to write about that.

Every writer I know has trouble writing. Yeah, Mr. Heller, that doesn't help me.

Early on I used to just write. I didn't care about how the word looked on the page. It didn't have to wear Versace, drive a BMW or even have a very big bank account. It just had to say something. I vomited, cried, spit and pooped on pages all the time--heart, soul, guts--mashed on the page. Bodily fluids produced where my brain could not.

And that was OK.

Over time I found a way to let my brain in on the party. It was a good thing. Instead of a bunch of crazy kids running the show with their cliched adjectives, broken beer bottles, twisted phrasing and the drunk kid no one knows, there was some order, some logic, creativity with a purpose.

In the last few years, hitting hard the last few months, my brain has kicked out the kids all together (only inviting them back when it needs a beer and a laugh).

In other words. I think too much.

Way too much.

What will JR thinks when he reads this? What if my mom finally figures out the ON button and stumbles upon my blog? What if I reread this later and realize that I'm completely dillusional about my mothering, writing, humanity? What if . . .

So, I wait until I am near exhaustion to write--usually around the 2 AM hour. My brain is tired and weak. The party kids enter the house--unafraid, unencumbered, ready to dance.

And that's when I let go.

I think too much. And while I do the stories become smaller and smaller. The ideas that once blossomed into something to behold disappear as if never there. The moments that cling, waiting for a chance to spread wings, fly and dive onto the page, fall, slowly, peacefully, with not a word of farewell.

Sad. But so true.

I should write about this.

And this is how a DRAFT found the light and warmth of the page . . .

I demanded that my brain finally share the stage and a thousand and one stories, ideas and moments stumbled in. Ready. Willing. Letting go.

Amazing how words can breathe when you let them--how when you just accept them for what they are that they can do just about anything.

Are they always pretty? No. Are they always perfect? No way. Will they always be a contender for a Pulizter? Only in the mind of a deliusional grade schooler. Will they always be true? When you let them . . . yes.

And that's what matters most.

And if by chance my mom finds the ON button and crashes the party . . . HI! Oh, and don't bother with the archives. That's just old stuff you don't ever need to read. I swear.


Kori said...

I am constantly amazined and humbled by the fact that ins so many ways we are allike. From the paste and scissors as a child to the love of the words themselves, and how it has all come together in this place we are now; writers, of our own stories and our own lives and even if we can't find them, the words are THERE, just waiting.

As Cape Cod Turns said...

Hope you are feeling well with your little gymnast inside of you!Have a nice weekend!

Bird's Eye View Photography said...

I love this post. SO TRUE! when I thkn to much about what I am about to write it never comes out-- but when I just start writing... it is better than I could imagine myself writing...

Ideas are effortless... they just come, writing should be the same way.

Wait. What? said...

It really is what matters most...It is!

I wrote a Flash Friday 55 about my toddler - it made me think of you and your baby and the messes they make that we grow to tolerate maybe even love...

Flea said...

I love your post script. Hi mom!!!!

My words fell out when I had children. It took me years to get them back. Good to see that yours haven't been gone very long. You're doing beautifully. Let your words dance!

Mr Lady said...

Oh my god yes.

flutter said...

I am so glad you're here

GypsiAdventure said...

You say the 'screensaver was mesmerizing' and yet as I read your words, your thoughts - random as they may be - they held me with your words. We all think too much (ok, so maybe I think too much) but finding the words to convey the thoughts, the words to share those randome bits of ourselves and yet somehow reach someone else in the process is hard. I don't know much about it, but I do know you found your way with this one and they were beautiful!
~K said...

I find that I write well in waves. And then the wave recedes, and I am writing about fluffy stuff. This then aggravates me, but the next wave eventually returns, and I ride the surf until the tide changes again.

Also? This post didn't suck. It was good, and you didn't even know it.


Karen said...

You're a writer. You were born with words just waiting to be said. It's in there, I have faith in you.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Your writing about not being able to write is great writing.

Cecily R said...

Hey! Jenn stole my line...

I wish I was able to just let go and write like you do. If I let go it would be crap and yours...well it is FAR from that.

By the way, Gracie was a belly dancer too. Maybe you have an artist in you. :)

Woman in a Window said...

Friggen words...they're all angsty, self absorbed and out of mascara. Friggen words.

Those are mine. Yours are behaving rather nicely for you now. Got to just release them that little bit so that they can talk amongst themselves.

painted maypole said...

ah... yes.

KG said...

I ... um ... am not what you'd call an introspective person. I'm a doer much more than a thinker. I always have been. And I'm logical to a fault. Whether this is good or not, I have no clue, but it's how it is.

PS - Sumo was a major thrasher in the womb. I'm still waiting to see what Version 2.0 will do.

ConverseMomma said...

You under-estimate your own power.

Life As I Know It said...

I get this. I think too much as well.
Let your words pour out and magic will happen. It already has...

Anonymous said...

lol. My mom reads my blog. There's no escaping. Eventually they find you.


Karen MEG said...

Yes, the thinking too much is like a big fat plug on creativity.
I hate to say it, but it's likely the exhaustion of the day to day and your state of pregnancy. I couldn't focus on a heck of a lot when I was expecting. But maybe that was just me.

Your rough drafts, by the way, are still works of art :).

just jamie said...

This is absolutely my favorite post of your ever! Well, as far as I can remember at least. ;)

You, eloquently, and in perfect language gripped me from the Google Reader, and begged me to click over/read more/drink up the thoughts I so wish I had the brain power to write.

Lovely. Truly.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you're're doing it right. Maybe writing at 2am is your way.

Jaina said...

Overthink? Ha, never! (or mind won't shut up half the time!) I am very inconsistent in posting, but trying to get better. Sometimes it's because I think too much, sometimes it's because there are so many words whirling around my head that I can't pin any of them down to spill out onto the page. My most insightful, philosophical-esque posts come late in the evening when I'm deliriously tired and should be sound asleep. Overthinking? I can definitely relate to on a few levels. This was such a fabulous post. (sorry for the post-length comment...sometimes I just don't shut up)

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