Small Magics

This is not The Best Blog Post Ever.

This is a blog post by an exhausted mommy who has been home with two little boys with pinkeye, more pinkeye, vomiting, more vomiting, sinusitis, hives, and more hives.

This is a blog post by a disheartened writer who wonders if she will ever “make it,” and wonders what exactly that means, anyway, as she watches from a distance, Emily Dickinson’s wisdom about the sweetness of success resonating in her brain.  I get you, Emily.  I really, really get you.  You gotta preach, sister.

But this is also a post about magic–not the big, earthshaking stuff.  The small magics, the ones that accumulate like layers of dust, almost invisible, until they blanket the world with their quiet transformative power.

Writing has taken a bit of a back seat this week.  My resolve has slipped in the face of life and all its messiness.  But even in the midst of the chaos, I’m trying, and that is a small magic.  There have been other small magics, too, to remind me why I write.

On my drive home from the school where I tutor, there is an old barn, not far from my house.  Yesterday, the hayloft door stood open, and as I passed, an unexpected spot of blue caught my eye.  Some whimsical farmer had dragged an old easy chair into the hayloft, and the happiest black cat in the entire universe was racked out on that chair, napping in the sun.  It was a story waiting to be written.

That little glimpse of the unexpected fed my starving soul, reminding me that stories are everywhere, waiting.  And that is why I write.  Because there is a farmer who thought, hey, it would be a great idea to haul an easy chair into a hayloft.  It’s that kind of quirky reality that captures my imagination, that sparks it to fresh life.

I may never actually write about the farmer and his easy chair and the happiest of cats, but I needed them in that moment and they were there, a small and saving magic.  And today, when I drove home again, the chair was still there, a reminder of what matters.

Today, I thought, was a lost day for writing.  It’s the Frat Boy’s birthday, so after I tutored and went to sword class, I took cupcakes to pre-K, dashed home to take care of Cancer Dog, and then went back to town for the birthday dinner at the diner.  And then my husband and I put two beyond-exhausted children to bed.  Except that Frat Boy pitched a fit (too much sugar and too much excitement) and the Mad Scientist pitched another fit (because he was born hating sleep).  And while the Frat Boy quickly fell asleep, the Mad Scientist had five gazillion reasons to get out of bed.  Again.  And again.  He doesn’t like school.  Where is his pink and blue blanket?  Et cetera.

By this time, it was nearly ten, and writing was not going to happen.  And then I remembered the chair, and I told the Mad Scientist that my computer and I would sit with him.  With the annoying prescience of children, he nailed my current writerly anxieties by asking me if I had published books (not yet, I said), and how many I had written (four, I said, not counting the ones in middle school and high school, but you know, I should probably count them, too), and what they were called (Winning Home, I said, and Water Witch, and a story about a girl warrior and a fairy tale about a wizard in a little mountain village–I am very bad at titles).  And then, praise be to all things good and holy, he actually fell asleep.  And when my husband asked when he’d finally dozed off, I had to say, “I have no idea.  I was writing.”

Another small magic is that when I say this, my husband understands that it is shorthand for, “I was in another world, and in it so completely that a tornado might have picked us up and carried us to Oz or Buenos Aires or Hoboken and I would not have noticed.”

I guess I am writing this in communion with all the other struggling writers out there, the ones who have to engage in Olympic-level feats of time management and perseverance just to carve out a few precious moments to write.  I want to say to all of us that we will get there, wherever there is, that we can do this thing, as crazy as it may seem.  That we are writers, and writers write.

We can do this.  We can make magic.

5 thoughts on “Small Magics

    1. Thanks! I think that cat must have it good. Can you imagine being a farm cat with your own easy chair with a view? I don’t think it gets any better than that.

  1. I think that’s why I’m so easily distracted. As creative person..i am always paying attention such small details because they always seem to have something interesting about them that the rest of the world around it…can’t capture my attention!

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