Monday, April 15, 2013

Mom's Writing

It's 5:38 am and I have to leave for work in exactly one hour and 22 minutes. I can fill up that time with straightening up the house, straightening up my hair, putting on makeup, exercising, excessive budgeting, or excessive obsession over someone else that involves mad journaling, speculation and crying, but I thought maybe instead I would read a poem and then write to you.

What I've been avoiding lately, out of insecurity or whatever, is consistent writing. I do that a lot. I go to the rough draft of my book and I think, "But it's so stupid and it's never going to sell anyway." And so I don't write it and what happens is over the next few days I begin narrating things. Like when my daughter asks what's for dinner.

She asked what we were having for dinner, but it wasn't a question so much as an accusation, already scowling and ready with a scathing retort even before the answer came.

While I'm narrating this in my head, I've forgotten the question and her scowling turns to indignant outrage, "Mom! Are you even listening?!"

The thirteen year-old's face changed like a firecracker's - solid one second and exploding red the next.

"Mom! I NEED to know what we're having for dinner, I have to prepare myself...Why are you looking for a pen?"

"I have to write something down," I tell her.

"Are you writing down what we're having for dinner?"

"Firecracker," I mumble, jotting down that last sentence.

My other daughter walks up. "What's the matter?"

"Mom's writing."

"Shit," the eleven-year old whispers. "We're never going to eat."

See what happens? See why me avoiding my novel is dangerous for children? And really other than feeding them, I don't want to do much else with my time at this point. No social obligations, no real-life dramas, nothing like that. Just a single focus on channelling that loud, insistent narrator. The poem I read in The Writer's Almanac reminded me of it and since I haven't shared a poem with you guys in a while, here it is:

The Undeniable Pressure of Existence

I saw the fox running by the side of the road
past the turned-away brick faces of the condominiums
past the Citco gas station with its line of cars and trucks
and he ran, limping, gaunt, matted dull haired
past Jim's Pizza, past the Wash-O-Mat,
past the Thai Garden, his sides heaving like bellows
and he kept running to where the interstate
crossed the state road and he reached it and he ran on
under the underpass and beyond it past the perfect
rows of split-levels, their identical driveways
their brookless and forestless yards,
and from my moving car, I watched him,
helpless to do anything to help him, certain he was beyond
any aid, any desire to save him, and he ran loping on,
far out of his element, sick, panting, starving,
his eyes fixed on some point ahead of him,
some possible salvation
in all this hopelessness, that only he could see.

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