Thursday, June 01, 2006


I’ve been spinning for the last couple of weeks. Spinning round the region, spinning my wheels, spinning tales. Spinning. And it makes my head spin as well. So many little bits of things to do – French class, editing, novel-writing class, kids – and I’m distracted, every time, by the written word. Or by words in general.

Now I need to edit, but I’ve been chatting in an online forum about Troubling Things. Troubling Things are convincing me that I am in a crisis and can’t work.

I tried to finish my chapter at Starbucks yesterday. I really did. But Starbucks is loaded with people: a friend walked in and we began a conversation. After she left, a teenage girl who knew me as her brother’s writing teacher asked for a ride home. She seemed sad. I asked if she wrote, too, and she said yes, that she writes poems and stories and things about “life.” It helps her figure things out. Me, too, I told her. It’s why I write, too. To figure things out. Even Troubling Things, though I can’t write about them. I write fiction instead and probably come at it slant.

I invited her to the poetry reading. Don’t know if she’ll come. And all I could think of was, how can I reach more teenagers? The only thing I have to offer them is their own, beautiful souls – and hope. I want to give them hope. But there’s only so much of me and I’ve got four children of my own who need me and who I mother spottily, either lavishing them with attention or, more often, being off in my word cloud. So maybe I need to reach fewer teenagers and just mother better.

We went to the library and I tried to write there, really I did. But (as my daughter once pointed out to me when she was small and I wanted her to sit at the library window and watch for her father), “the library is full of books!” So I didn’t write there, either, but pulled the volumes off the shelves, thumbed them, checked a few out.

The teenage girl got another ride home and I went into a room and tried to write, but all I could think was that I wanted to write in a glass-enclosed gazebo in the woods. And where would I find a glass-enclosed gazebo? (Glass to protect from wind, and to keep bugs away.)

Finally, I went home. I skipped critique group and I took my computer and a deck chair out into the woods, using the chair as a kind of shield to push through thimbleberry vines and downed maple branches. I sat in the woods for an hour or two. The birds were noisy. Things smelled good. The mosquitoes bit me. I fingered the thimbleberry leaves and ate a thimbleberry. I finished my chapter!!

Now I want to live in the woods. I mean, I do live in the woods, but I want to live in the woods – like a redwing blackbird or a raccoon – only with opposable thumbs.


sparrow anne said...

just got your comment on my blog, katherine, and so i jumped to yours and nosed around... and want to say:

but you ARE serving, you're serving your own words and silences and dear ones.

i am still single and crave and fear the busyness i suspect comes with knowing more people as life goes on. already i feel i'm not keeping up most the time, caring too much and doing too little.

why do we think we're not enough?

sparrow anne said...

p.s. loved the bit about opposable thumbs.

tesseract said...

Oh, sweet Sparrow, bless you! I admire the work you do in the world. Perhaps we need to press into Jesus and say that what we do *is* enough because we can only do the next thing and then the next.