Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Write when you can, and feel lucky you're able

I was frustrated.

I couldn't figure out some aspects of the newest Word program, and the piece of fiction I was trying to write wasn't turning out the way I planned. The computer was annoying; my words sounded stupid and trite. I was about to give up; maybe try again later.

 And then I remembered Susan Spencer-Wendel.

Have you heard of her? She's a former journalist and author of the bestselling book, "Until I Say Goodbye: My Year of Living with Joy," the heartbreaking yet inspiring account of how she spent a year - the only healthy one she had left - after being diagnosed with ALS, a neuromuscular disorder often referred to as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Wendel's book details how she spent a year embracing life with her family and friends and doing her best to live in the moment.

ALS is particularly cruel - it robs your body of its mobility bit by bit while your mind stays sharp and aware. Susan wrote her book, all 89,000 words of it, with her right thumb, using an iPhone when her fingers began dragging over the touchscreen of her iPad.

She finished it in four months, knowing her deadline was non-negotiable.

"Such is the power of desire," she said.

I fired up my computer and started over, feeling incredibly lucky to have the opportunity.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What are we waiting for, then?

From the poet John Greenleaf Whittier, a little Friday food for thought: "For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been.' "

It reminded me of this:

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Who am I? Well, I'm a writer, of course

When my children were small, I talked about them constantly. If you know me at all, you've likely heard a story about bathtime, bedtime, naptime or the lack of such.

In fact, if I had any inkling of how much I loved being a mom, I might have had even more kids. (I would have hoped against hope, of course, that doctors would have introduced a new, less painful way of birthing them.)

I lamented that I had no time to write - my kids took up every spare moment of the day.

But it pains me to say it ... my kids are growing up. They're increasingly independent. They need me, sure, but not quite as much. So I put together a tiny writing nook at  home, outfitted it with a perfectly adequate computer, and worked out a little evening writing schedule in my head.

But I haven't written a story in months.

Oh, sure, I've written for work, and I've written freelance, but I haven't written for me. My blogs have sat empty. My stories, some half-finished, have just been waiting patiently in their folders.

I've likened my imagination to the Tin Man when Dorothy first found him that field. Slow. Rusty. Wanting to move forward, but stuck.

Maybe I'm just not good at transitions. Or maybe,  for awhile, I simply misplaced my identity. After all, for years, I was a journalist. Now I'm not. Then I was "Mommy," and I was always, desperately in demand. Now I'm just "Mom," and while I'm still  loved and needed, I see more independence on the horizon.

But I'm still a writer. Always have been, always will be.

That last part is easy to forget. But I think I'm starting to remember.