Sometimes I forget that I write books… forget that this is how it started. All this bookmama-retreat-giving-editing-brainstorming-proposal-midwifery-podcastery-app business began pen to page. For me. Through me. My always companion.
I imagine my nine-year-old hands at Mom’s typewriter. They were small and couldn’t move fast enough to keep up with the words.
GROOPLE THE MAGICAL BANANA would save Banana Town from that bad bunch of banana thugs, alright. But only if Little Linda could keep butt in chair until she wrote “The End.” I knew this. No getting up.
We did okay, Groople and me, through a series of tales that sit now in a binder on my desk. Thanks to tuna fish with sweet relish and cucumber and cream cheese on rye delivered by Mom on plastic trays. And lots of Liquid Paper. Joanne Tisch was a freelance typist and knew things about making typos disappear with Liquid Paper, and about how I’d get better with practice.
I forget that I’m a writer like we all forget stuff. Because meals. And bills. And dogs. And kids. Because bad hair days. And good ones. There’s always something else to do, to worry about, to love, to dream into being. Much of it is valid. Oh-so valid. And all of it takes time. And energy.
Mostly, I think, I forget because I’m blessed. Blessed with a full life, long in the making. Love is all around me—in my home, in my heart, in my world. There’s so much to give and receive—in real time—face to face, heart to heart, foot to hoof. It’s because of that, I suppose, that I forget that my love is also fulfilled and shared on the page, with words.
I didn’t used to forget. Writing never let me. Not trauma, schedule, or new crush could keep it away.
I see my eighteen-year-old hands, flying across my journal, sunlight streaming through curtains, me biting down on a smile. I’m just sure the novel I’m crafting will one day satisfy my intense desire to connect with others.
There I am ten years later; a new mother, on all fours at the bottom of my closet, scribbling down the words as fast as they appear. It’s 3:30 a.m. Please don’t let them wake up. Please give me more time. I peek out via a crack in the door and see moonlight illuminating my husband and son’s faces. Please. Please. Please. I need more time.
My first book wouldn’t be published for years, but the girl crafting GROOPLE and the teen penning novels and the woman in that closet couldn’t know that. It didn’t matter. The words were a constant, providing clarity, peace, a soft place.
Deadlines would get met. Lists sometimes achieved. Awards, too, even. On occasion. But none of that mattered like the words. They were my truest comfort and faith. They let me know how I felt. Told me what to do. Kept me from saying things I’d regret.
In short, they released the steam and connected me with me. More than anything, they made me feel whole. And, beyond any result in the world, they told me I was a writer.
How lucky I felt that the words never let me forget.
Until they did.
Or I did.
I’m not really sure.
But they took a break. The longest break of my 52 years.
I think we needed it, this separation. I’d had butt in chair as often as possible for over ten years, writing more than 200,000 words of a memoir while running a few businesses. Then, painstakingly, and probably too urgently, this mass was edited down to nearly half. I believed and hoped—but wasn’t at all sure when I really let my mind go there—that it was time for “The End.”
In the editing process, the work gained a LOT. Streamlining is hot. Intoxicating, even. Killing your darlings, so they say, is a true high for an organizational freak like me. I was elated with so much of the progress. But we lost something, too, in the self-inflicted frenzied pace of my edits. And I knew it. We misplaced some of the heart, the raw emotion and depth, the essence of what I’d started out to share. And in that gain/loss, I couldn’t see the forest through the trees and had to get the hell out of the forest.
It was hot and dry and dusty in there and I couldn’t smell the sky. I ached to look up. Away from the page and the screen. To feel the clouds cross my face and see new vistas and old friends. And sometimes… often… to do absolutely nothing.
Nothing is nice. Ohmygawd. Why didn’t anyone tell me how nice this doing nothing is? Okay. You tried. I know. Don’t get all heady with your reminders. But thank you. Truly. Thank you.
You were right.
I gave the book back. To God. To my muse. To the ether. To whatever and wherever. I didn’t care. It was let-go time. Give-back time. “No memoir? You mean that thing you’ve been working on FOREVER???” friends said.
“Yep. If I’m happy anyway, maybe that’s the point.” And then I poured myself another glass of Hibiscus tea for my next appointment of feet in grass.
No one knew what to say, which was also nice. Sometimes not planning or knowing feels like floating.
My sister had the best response. The one I sometimes hear myself tell a client:
“No writing is ever lost. It’s healed your divorce. It’s healed your kid. It’s healed you. It’s made you a better writer. It’s made you a better teacher, a more compassionate person. Trust that.”
Even when she whispered, “Perhaps its job is done,” I agreed.
And then I got really happy. Daily. Hourly. Pretty much all the time. Was this the answer all along… to not write??? To not give a flying fuck? To lose the thing you think you need more than air itself in order to find your breath?
I didn’t know that this unattached Linda existed. Had no idea. But I liked her. Very much.
This freewheeling gal has been hanging around making my life AWESOME since February—more than half a year. And, without the words, I figured she might be here to stay, which was A-OK by me.
And then, the other day, a thought bubble floated through:
I used to be a writer. Is that passion gone forever? Because I think I’m starting to miss her.
I’d forgotten. But I was remembering.
Yesterday morning a noise woke me up. Our water heater banging down below. Calcium deposits or some such garbage. Seems we forgot to call the plumber, again. I woke up pissed. Really? Because I was having the BEST sleep! I need sleep! She’s my new friend. Why am I awake at 5 a.m.? That’s my old life. The girl who never slept. Because she was wired and WRITING.
Then I heard them. The words.
And more words.
They were back, as if they’d never left.
And the odd thing was… they felt good.
Oh. My. Lord. I forgot about you! There you are! You’re here! And I’m here! And I’m not tired!
God it’s good to see you. But… listen here. If this continues we’re going to go to bed early and play by some new rules because that old no sleep thing and no time for friends thing… that was CRACKERS and we’re too old for that s#it!
I was smiling, though. Real wide.
I almost stopped to ask them where they’d been, but I was already headed for my desk. And it didn’t matter. I was grateful they’d been gone. And elated they were back. I couldn’t wait to find out what they had to share.
Because, I think I might have a memoir to finish.
I lit a candle. Took a deep breath, and thanked the muse. I looked over at my good ‘ol buddy Groople and entered the trees.
And I started again.