Do you see where this is going? Sigh.
One day, a light bulb. The girls realize that they can buy their mother a purple dress! Red and blue make purple! What an ingenious compromise!
Mom loves her new purple dress, of course, and the family has no choice but to live happily ever after.
When I was little I wrote fantastically happy things, and I watched every episode of The Brady Bunch multiple times. These two facts are doubtless related. If my own life wasn't going the way I'd imagined it, I could write my way out of it, making sure to draw beautiful circles atop my i's and have all the stories end happily ever after.
Childhood gave me my first clue that writing was power, that I could shape a narrative one way or another, with no one but me the wiser.
Later, teenaged and affecting ennui, I decided that I preferred the unexpected ending. This had to do with my love of all things Ray Bradbury. I read The Illustrated Man over and over again, hoping that some small part of Bradbury's genius might eventually accrue to me. If the story in my head was sad, I would give it a happy ending. Happy story? I would add a devastating postscript, unsubtle as it was catastrophic. But I was no closer to writing about my own life, my own truth, than I had been as a child. It would take years and years of living before I understood that my own story was worth telling, and a few more years besides before I was brave enough to try telling it.
Now I write memoir. I also write about parenting. I place my childhood on the same page as my children's so that I can better understand my complicated past and possibly improve my own parenting at the same time. Assets against liabilities. I also write poetry, when I have something to say that for whatever reason doesn't submit to a declarative sentence structure.
I cannot say that I have a writing process. I am not that organized about writing. I save hyperorganization for the rest of my life. Generally an idea comes to me, or a fragment - two words, a line, or a story from my past that all of a sudden is just begging for release. At this point I would choose to drop everything to write on the spot. Of course most often I can't drop everything, and the writing has to wait, but I am never able to put it off for longer than twenty-four hours. It is an itch I have to scratch; it is a young child tugging ever more frantically on my sleeve.
StilI, I may go weeks between such bursts of inspiration. I'm busy, with work and children, and I don't view the in-between times as worthy of comment or concern. No writer's block 'round these parts. I have never tried to write a novel, so I don't know how that would go. Short-form writing, as I do here, suits me.
As to where I write, I have to laugh. On the couch? Using an iPad? Nothing fancy. The 'room of my own' is - has always been - inside my head.
To the question of why do I write what I do, I can only shrug. I write what I have to write. I do not view myself as having all that much choice in the matter. And as to how my writing differs from other bloggers' writing, well, it's probably more penetrating and certainly more painful to read. Lately I have reconciled myself to the fact that many of my readers do not know what to say after they read my posts. I used to fret about that. Now I get that my writing makes people think and feel things they might rather not think and feel. Those who can bear it, and believe they can learn from it truths to apply in their own lives, stick with me. Those who can't should look elsewhere. There are all kinds of blogs out there, blogs for all kinds of people.
Two blog authors who make me think and feel are Maggie at Magpie Musing and Alejna at Collecting Tokens. Maggie is my sister. No, she's not; she has her own sister. But in odd, symbolic ways, she and I share essential elements of our childhoods. Our mothers, both dead now, were uncannily similar to one another. Maggie writes about anything and everything, and her writing is intelligent and compassionate. She is an observer, like me, drawn to quirks and oddities. Read her. You will learn much about all kinds of things. Alejna, too, is clever and witty, which draws me to her and her blog, a blog as much visual as textual. Alejna is a talented photographer, and what she chooses to photograph is always interesting and surprising. Also, she shares my love affair with words. Indeed she is a doctoral student in linguistics. Visit her, too. I have asked both of these women to write about their own writing processes. Their responses will be posted on their blogs on Monday, April 21st.
(If you've learned nothing else about me via this meme (ahh! the truth will out! this is a meme, called My Writing Process: A Blog Tour), you now know that I am drawn to smart women.)
Thank you to Amanda (yet another smart woman who blogs these days at Amanda Magee) for inviting me to participate in this project. I hope that my take has not disappointed. You may read about Amanda's writing process here, but do read more of her work than the one post, because Amanda writes beautifully and poignantly about life as a person, a professional, a wife, and a mother, and the tension inherent in juggling those four roles, so often at odds with one another.