This tweet from Lauren Groff (who I’ve never read but may have to change that next year) resonated with me and where I am at this stage. I haven’t been writing and that’s ok. I used to feel guilty or embarrassed or something that I professed to want to be a writer and yet not write and then I made myself write every day whether it be in my journal, on a random scrap of paper or in the drafts section of WordPress, never to see the light of day. I have over 20 drafts in my WordPress folder if anyone is counting.
Back in October, I was so excited to have Fridays free to write when I went to a four day work week. Guess what? That time began to fill with other things mainly related to parenting and home life. I finished up my Thursday night writing class a couple weeks ago having missed half of the eight sessions because even when I try, I find it impossible to put myself first for fear I’ll disappoint someone else.
One week my uncle had invited us to a movie screening for a documentary called I’ll Push You, an amazing story of friendship and sacrifice that I highly recommend you watch if you are feeling sorry for your lot in life. Justin, a wheelchair-bound man suffering from a debilitating neuromuscular disease, wanted to embark on the 500-mile pilgrimage known as El Camino de Santiago and his lifelong friend Patrick said why not and practically carried him along the way. Words cannot convey how emotionally impactful this story is. Just go watch it! My uncle had completed the same “walk” just weeks before this duo and he’d purchased tickets for many of his family and friends to see the screening. He also recently came out with a book chronicling his own journey called Two Million Steps. You can see why I had to go.
The next week was Liam’s annual mother/child dinner for his school. This is an evening where we get dressed up for a nice night of dinner and dancing where the mom’s sit and talk amongst themselves and the boys (and now girls) run around the dance floor having the time of their lives. We go every year so to tell him I couldn’t go this year would have been a huge disappointment. The writing class was about two blocks away from the venue and believe me, I toyed with the idea of ducking out for a couple of hours to go to class. The last week of the class had me two days into antibiotics for pneumonia that had crept up on me from early November when I kept telling myself it was just the flu and I’d be fine in a few days. I had no energy to get out of bed let alone go to class.
My Fridays have been similarly not my own. There were days off for holidays and teacher conferences. Spelling bees and mass to attend. Offering time as a parent helper so teachers could enjoy a holiday luncheon together and now Christmas break. I have barely written a word since late November when I shared a story with the class about my childhood home and my memories of becoming an avid reader and erstwhile librarian to my own collection of books while my peers were busily playing with Barbies.
So instead of feeling resentful that my plan of writing has been displaced over these past few weeks, I have been using the time to read as much as I can, tucking into as many lovely books as possible before the end of the year. I recently finished The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin which has become my surprising favorite book of the year due to the randomness of it being put on my radar via a tweet from an author I follow on Twitter. I loved everything about it – the wide cast of characters, the beautiful writing and the arc of the story which intertwines all the characters together around a flower shop in Dublin that sounds so pretty and cozy I would drop in for a visit next time I was there – if only it were real.
In all, I’ve logged 65 books this year, a record for me since I’ve been tracking on GoodReads. Every book brings me pieces of stories that resonate with me and I feel as though books come into my life at just the right time. Sometimes they are books I didn’t think I would want to read or had never heard of but that’s the great thing about the connectedness of social media – things come into your sphere that you may never have contemplated before. Interestingly enough, I also attribute the number of books I have read to my summerlong absence from Facebook. All those times I might have reached for my phone for a quick update on what’s going on with my friends and then find myself an hour later with all the makings of an emotional hangover from consuming so many political stories and rants. Instead, I picked up my Kindle which travels with me everywhere.
So 2017 is winding down and I’m going moment to moment where my attention is needed. Spending time with Liam, wrapping gifts for Christmas, preparing for our annual Christmas Eve gathering. Once school’s back in session and life returns to “normal” (won’t this be miraculous!!) I will be happy to once again embrace the writing that’s hiding away inside of me with all the ideas I’ve picked up along the way.