One of my decades-long dreams has become a reality. (One that is going to be tough to pay for, but whatever.) After almost twenty-five years, I have a space to create and write that’s my own. It’s warm, well-lit and already cluttered with magical goobobs and whatsitz. And now I’m faced with the glaring mental blank page of fear. I have to do this. Whatever “this” is.
But–I’m fat, and need to go for a walk. The dog needs brushing. And the floors swept. The laundry room is filthy. The toilets need scrubbing. The thank you notes written. Are my sons okay? Are they happy? Is my husband okay? Does he want to watch a movie? Is he bored? Do I need to solve that? Am I bored? Are my students doing okay? The clothes hung. Underwear and sock drawer sorted. The fridge scrubbed out. Shelves dusted. Budget rectified. Bills paid. Balance checked (red). Lesson plans completed. Playlists made. Creditors called. Check in on parents. On neighbors. On friends. Check social media. Engage. Disengage. Take a shower. Brush teeth. Take meds. Fill the dogs’ water bowls. Feed them. Oh, I really should take one for a walk. Make a schedule, a plan. Break dates. Plan a party. Cancel a party. Check bank balance. Husband has small meltdown about healthcare (justified).
For all my bluster and show about loving to write, it’s been scribbles and stickies. I have bits and threads all over the damn place, and not a cohesive, completed work. I use Scrivener, Evernote, and notebooks. Probably should up my Freedom account again so I don’t stray over to other tabs.
And now: I have time. Time to make a writing plan, and just get to it. Giving myself grace and permission: if it turns out I have nothing worth saying, who’ve I harmed? No one, not even myself. Writing is a natural, zesty enterprise (in the words of Maude Lebowski). My Capricorn husband does tend to look at time/creativity in monetary terms, and I don’t blame him really. We both tend to suffer from a scarcity mindset, and thinking of ways to monetize our time is somewhat of an obsession. It’s our hustle. Oh, well.
Thinking of the generations of women who did find the time, the quill and the ink to write. In spite of having all of the domestic duties and patriarchy weighing them down. But then I think about Herman Melville, who my friend Holly told me had an attic space and he forbade any of the women of the house to disturb him in any way. And this is published on PBS:
In the midst of his initial years as a profitable author, Melville married Elizabeth Shaw, daughter of the chief justice of Massachusetts and a close family friend. The chief justice, Lemuel Shaw, would later support Melville in the late 1850s during his financial struggles. With his new bride, Melville moved to New York City to live with his younger brother, mother, and four sisters in late 1847. Despite these crowded quarters, Melville was able to continue writing, and he finished two more novels within two years.https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/whaling-biography-herman-melville/
So…wait…in a “crowded house” that his father-in-law provided the women hung out and did every other domestic chore? The hell, Melville. Go downstairs and wash a dish or two and clear your head so you don’t confuse whales with fish.
This is leading me to another blog post, one which examines women authors from backgrounds, races, time periods and voices. How did they do it? And also – the next generation of authors: what forms and genres will they create, have created, that will take us further?