Okay, blog. I’ve got you figured out. You’re about accountability. If I’m going to blog about writing, then I’d darn well better be writing. And if I’m writing a blog, then I’m writing, and thinking about writing. Not “thinking about writing” as in “I really should be working on that novel,” but engaging the idea, the craft, the process of writing.
When I write, I only appear to be alone. There’s no one else in the room, hopefully. I’m way too distractable. But there’s a party in my head–an English graduate student-style party, with lots and lots of angsty writer-types milling around, trying to outdo each other with snatches of brilliance. Some can’t handle their liquor, and get a little ridiculous. Others flirt shamelessly and sometimes awkwardly with profundity. A few are just hoping no one notices them.
I’m not crazy. Well, not for that reason, anyway. But when I write, I hear the voices of writers who’ve gone before. They speak to each other and to me, inspiring, informing and challenging what I write. It’s both achingly difficult and uplifting to be writing in their shadows.
Some voices sound out above the background noise of the rest. One of my favorite jolts of clarity is from the E.M. Forster in my head, who is always intoning, “Only connect.” Those two words, for me, say everything worth saying. Maybe I should just quit. Forster’s already said everything I want to say, and far more concisely than this wordy girl ever could. For me, writing is about connection, and only about connection. It’s about bridging space and time, about resurrecting the past, whether to emulate it or take a good hard look at it and then quickly bury it back where it came from. It’s about the voices of Shakespeare and Pope and Keats, Austen and Yeats and Dickinson, Tolkien and Silko and Stevens, all ambushing an exhausted 21st century writer-mommy with their beauty and pain and clarity. It’s about claiming an inheritance, as unworthy of it as I may feel.
I love connections. And I’ve come to realize that motherhood, that thing I have often used as an excuse for not writing, is in some ways exactly the same thing as writing:
1) Both motherhood and writing involve pain and mental anguish.
2) There’s a hefty investment of time before the appearance of results–anywhere from nine months to eighteen years to a lifetime.
3) Both are wondrous.
4) If you’re involved in either, you’re probably not getting nearly as much sleep as you should.
5) Both lead to excesses of hubris. My kids should get a Newbery Award. And my novel is the cutest novel in the world. Or is it the other way around?
6) Both lead to excesses of self-doubt. My children deserve a better mother. My novel should have been abandoned at birth.
7) If you’re in the trenches of either, you’re likely consuming quantities of caffeine that would send a moose into shock.
8) Your computer won’t survive either one.
9) Your friends observe that you’ve fallen off the face of the earth.
10) Both make you crotchety.
11) Both explode the boundaries of your mind, your heart, your world.
12) They revolve around two of the great loves of your life.
13) Without them, you would not be who you are.
14) Because of them, you are a much more exhausted, far less svelte, and infinitely better person.
So, blog, tonight I am victorious. I worked on my novel, I thought about my craft, and I hugged my beautiful boys. I didn’t say anything Yeatsian or Keatsian or even Seussian, but I connected with writers and mommies throughout time and space in the heart-rending, mind-blowing act of creation.