Forget-Me-Nots in the Window

Forget-Me-Nots in the Window, Henri Matisse, 1916

Writing is such a helpful thing for me. I don’t personally know anyone except myself who needs to write in order to think properly. When I take a break from writing, my thoughts build up and cloud my mind. If I’m not writing, I’m not communicating well.

So thank you for coming and reading and sharing my conversations. Some days I’m crying out my words, and other days I’m sitting in a cool blue-green world with a bowl of simple little flowers blooming in the sunlight. And that’s a nice place to be. I wish this lovely little spot of existence transformed itself into a real place here in my real life, but after all, isn’t this whole life just a shadow of the higher reality? Who am I to say that the home I live in is less shadowy than the words I write or the artwork I look at? Maybe God gave me these other worlds as real comforts to me. Reprieves. Because He knows I don’t get out much!


Writing Therapy

I’m really dragging this morning, so I’m going to try a little writing therapy before tackling school. I suppose I could start laundry, but really I ought to wait until Dean comes home because it’s the day for his laundry, and he’ll have more dirty clothes when he comes home. I could clean because the house is a mess, but honestly, what else do the kids have to do except play and make a mess? And who cares, anyway? No one is coming over. So I’ll write.

Writing articles for pay on BlogMutt has been nice. I don’t earn too much, but everything I do earn is profit. Nothing Dean earns is profit. (He tells me not to worry about that, but yet he keeps reminding me of it.)

I learn a lot while researching for those articles. I know about burning scalp syndrome, benefits of having vinyl flooring when you have pets, teachers who practice self-care methods, bionic prostheses (that was my favorite article so far!), and reasons for businesses to hire a snow removal company. Sometimes I learn new trends… did you know there’s a trend called “family management?” Parents are parenting as if the family is a business. This raises the importance of family life to equal (or above) the importance of work. In fact, it’s a synthesis of all aspects of life… looking at everything you do together, maximizing quality time, making sure all members of the family are contributing and being treated fairly. I’m veering toward jealousy here. Maybe it’s just being wishful.

I love to learn, but I often think it would be better for me in this house if I remained dumb. Maybe I would be cleaning the house instead of writing.

I think I should start school now. I was hoping, through this process, I would come up with some brilliant plan for the day. Something new and exciting to take us away from our doldrums. Maybe we’ll go to the library later. Bleh. I like the library, but that doesn’t sound fun. Even the Olympics are getting old. We have to go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house to watch them because our TV antenna is broken, and then the kids are difficult when I decide it’s time to go home… (Mom can go home and get our pajamas and toothbrushes and stuff… we’ll stay here…why can’t we have a sleepover?… Because you have one sleepover, and that’s in summer… And then Eddie sits on me.)

I really should start school now. I don’t feel better, but I think I loosened my brain up a bit.

On Writing

Two things lead me to write on the topic of writing. First, I’ve been doing some reading about teaching writing in The Writer’s Jungle by Julie Bogart. Why teach writing if it isn’t important? It is extremely important to be able to communicate clearly and effectively in writing. I like Julie’s Brave Writer approach to writing because it is about coaching and joining the process, not just assigning a report and expecting your student to be able to do it well. The process of writing is sometimes lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. There are other writers all over. And there are readers! There are audiences when you read your own writing. Writing is a form of communication, and it is not something to learn or do only when you’re not busy doing more important things.

Second, I’ve experienced the ineffectiveness of talking. A conversation happens and I don’t have enough time to think clearly, so I say something that is relevant, but not exactly the truth. The other person takes what I said (which was only a part-truth) and uses it in the whole conversation, thinking it was the whole truth. It would have been so much better for me to write a letter to this person. The conversation did not go well. I could not clearly talk my way to the truth, and I was frustrated and wanted a break. I really wanted to just write what I knew.

Writing allows the mind to think and revise, to be more precise. Writing this post has allowed me to chew over two very different things running through my brain the past week and relate them to each other. Synthesis. I don’t find much synthesis in my verbal communications. I find jaggedness, weariness, confusion, words I wish I had a delete button for, clever things that struck a wrong note. Unless I’m free-writing in a stream-of-consciousness mode, I can avoid those awkward things in writing. So here’s a hip-hip-hooray for my blog! I love writing, and I enjoy knowing that someone is out there reading my writing, even if it’s not very many people. If I relied on verbal conversations alone, I’d be a weird, silent person. Someone who doesn’t have a great personality. I don’t feel that way at all in my writing. Writing adds dimension.

Read, read, read

I don’t have much to say lately because I’ve been so engrossed in three books. My downstairs book: Lila by Marilynne Robinson (just out this fall!). My upstairs book: The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Stories by Sarah Orne Jewett. My treadmill book on Kindle: Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. (I’ve finally found a reason to really like my e-reader. It is easier to hold while walking on the treadmill. All other times, I’d rather read a real book.)

As usual, when reading a well-written book, I have an urge to write stories of my own. Now I’m reading three well-written books, you can imagine what I’m going to do next after I hit the publish button! Okay, yes, I might read some more. But I should write. Do you think I can do both at the same time?

What I’m writing about now

It has been almost a year since my collection of stories, A Flower in the Heart of the Painting, was published. I get asked when the next one is coming out. I sometimes wonder if people are disappointed when I tell them, “Not for a long time.” More often people ask me if I am writing another book. Now that’s a different question. Yes, of course. I was writing that first book of stories for ten years or so. I’m not about to stop the habit of writing. Am I writing anything that might be a novel or another collection? I sure hope so.

I used to believe if I told people what I was currently writing about, it would somehow doom the project. I would try to be close-mouthed about my endeavors. That sounds like superstition, and I’m not superstitious. So here’s to all you curious readers out there: I’m writing a long story (hopefully it will extend into a novel) about a family who has moved from suburban life to a dairy farm. The father, who made the decision, is changed, and the rest of the family tries to understand how to live in all the upheaval. The mother is an artist (of course!). And the nearest town is based on a town I am familiar with, which boasts many outdoor sculptures. The sculptures will be important/interesting as the story goes on, and I have an idea that the sculptor’s direct descendant might be an important character in the story as well. I’m not very far along yet, so the story is very malleable.

I’ve been reading a lot of Bronte and admiring their excellent characterization, and their captivating dialogue. I have read Portrait of a Lady by Henry James twice, but I’m feeling like I need a reread now. I love the psychological depth of his writing. And I’ve been interested in the “stream of consciousness” idea. I’m not sure I can do that sort of writing to its full extent, but when I try, I come up with some interesting ideas (and the first few lines generally need cutting).

I hope to write another post in the near future to let you know about the publication of a shorter work. I can’t always be working on a long piece:)