The Work of Parenting/Writing/Teaching/Loving

Ok, so Sunday, after a long week of work and going to AWP, I accomplished the following other tasks:

  1. filled my SUV  up with gas
  2. went grocery  shopping with my man
  3. took my kid to Gameworks  Seattle with his friend
  4. paid bills
  5. swept the floors
  6. did the dishes

Then, after all of that, and hearing numerous stories of school and work from my family of 3, I sat down to write, feeling like a balloon that has lost all of its air.

I remember, when our son was a year old and I used to take him in his stroller to a Barnes and Noble near our coach-house in Beverly, Chicago.  I would wear my head-wraps, buy my coffee, read a few pages at a time in a book that I couldn’t afford to buy and look at the other women in the bookstore cafe.  Inevitably, there would be a woman there alone, with make-up on, coiffed hair, and a cute outfit that took more than 5 minutes to assemble.  She always had a relaxed, reflective look on her face and I hated her.  Jealousy of her freedom and independence and matching clothes came off of me in waves that I would try to hide.

It’s different for me now, that my son is 13.  I still long for the luxury of staring at an open closet and wondering what to wear, reading a book from beginning to end and having my biggest concern be the state of my hair.  But I am a part of something more complicated and challenging and fulfilling and poignant now, my family.  These male beings who have been brought into my life challenge me to be more, to balance better, to dig deeper and that, if I keep it in perspective, can help me as a writer.

Our families inspire and challenge us, give us material but also take away our sacred time and mental focus.  Maybe the pressure of having less time forces us to write when we can.  Maybe the multi-tasking of parenthood makes us better at managing deadlines/ second edits, writing in our cars or while waiting at yet another sports practice.

Somewhere on those post it notes, ideas scrawled on a restaurant napkin and late night epiphanies lies a memoir, an article, a novel.  String it together and give it life.  Water it and listen to it and pay it as much attention as another school/work story over dinner.  We deserve this much.

Thoughts on AWP#14 Seattle

I attended the 14th Annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs  (AWP) Conference this past week in Seattle, and it was a  life-changing experience for me.    I took enough notes for fill an entire spiral notebook, and attended about 18 workshops/lectures over a 3 day period, along with navigating a crowd of 15,000 writers, editors, publishers and fellow book lovers.  I slowly networked in the massive bookfair, and met editors/representatives from Creative Non-Fiction, Bitch, The Sun, So to Speak, Phoebe, Boulevard Magazine and more.  I found out about VIDA, Hedgebrook, A Room of Her Own and other organizations that support women writers through workshops, lectures, retreats, fellowships and guidance.

I feel so supported in this journey of writing and publishing.  I feel I am part of this huge community now, and not just a woman sitting on her iPad in a Starbucks listening to The Caravan World Music Show on KBCS FM and trying to find her voice.  Even my Americano tastes better, and I can face down the blank page with courage and conviction that writing is a valid, serious,  and important way to spend yet another rainy Sunday afternoon.