I think I have writer’s block. Not the best thing to have weeks before I start a graduate program in, ehem, writing.
Here are my symptoms:
*I’ve rearranged most of the furniture in our home. It’s a two bedroom condo, but still, I felt it urgently necessary to move large pieces of furniture around.
*My nails have NEVER looked better. I’ve been painting them every week. And while they dry I watch Mad Men.
*I spent an afternoon dusting. An afternoon. Dusting.
*On the day it was about 2,345 degrees in Washington DC, the girls were cashed out on the couch watching Dinosaur Train. I usually use their TV time to do some writing or reading. Instead, I decided to make twice baked potatoes. Because, who doesn’t want to turn the oven on for over an hour when it’s 2,345 degrees outside?
If I do have writer’s block, I’m not super concerned about it. Which makes me think I probably don’t have writer’s block. I think REAL writers who come down with this sort of thing are in a general state of despair. I’m pretty happy right now.
Something else is going on that might be contributing to my lack of attention to words.
*The girls and I made a summer list: things we want to do over these three months before both are off to preschool and Kindergarten. Movie days, go to the beach, playdates, splash parks, make friendship bracelets, have ice-cream for lunch….. We sleep in, pull on our bathing suits that still smell of Coppertone from the day before and head outside to play with our water table, or go to the splash park. We meet friends at the park and decide to have chocolate milk and ice cream for lunch. We pull on backpacks, our bug nets and binoculars and go “tracking” around our neighborhood.
*New friendships have been growing. I was out with a bunch of ladies – moms of kids in Hadley’s preschool class – until (hours later) a rainstorm was heard slamming on the water next to us and the wind picked up so that we had to run inside, giggling and insisting on finishing our stories with one another.
*I’ve wondered about a lady in my writer’s group who I’ve known over a year now, read her writing, and listened to her talk, whether we might be friends if we knew each other a little better. A few weeks ago, after she had her second child and sent out a text with a picture and his name, I smiled because his name comes from the same book that Harper’s name comes from. “We are kindred spirits,” I texted her. Our children have been getting to know each other this summer and so have we.
*I emailed another friend frequently, one who started off as my teacher and introduced me to Creative Nonfiction, with quotes from books or to tell her that the streetlights in Georgetown have real fire in them. She sends me a video of her reading a short story that makes me cry for the bravery and redemption in it. I sit in a Starbucks and email her from my phone telling her an essay of mine will be published in the fall.
The first planner I kept was one from the year I was in 8th grade. I wrote down assignments, outfits I would wear, and when I had gymnastics or flute lessons. Around April of 1991, I started to write down phrases in the calendar boxes. “Walked to 7-11 with C, got Slurpees and went to the bridge to watch the cars drive to Chicago.” “Got to see a movie with M. Left half way through to meet others and walk around Lake Street. Ended up on OPRF football field. I wonder what high school will be like.” I continued writing little phrases that summer and have kept my planners ever since. One theme that I see and remember when I read that 14 year old’s bubbly handwriting, is the confidence she felt being an 8th grader as well as the nervousness of going to the high school down the street. She was starting something new. She wondered where she’d fit in. She hoped she’d make the Drill Team so she could dance and dance and dance.
And then, on an early morning in March 2011, in my first Creative Nonfiction class, I started writing about that 14 year old girl. I pulled out my planner and a few scribbled journal entries and began writing. It started as a paragraph. About twelve months later I sent 20 pages of that story to SPU for my graduate school application.
This morning I was painting my toenails in the living room (ELF’s “chocolate” by the way; check out their website, almost everything’s a dollar!) and the girls were in the playroom next to me. They were getting ready for a dinosaur fashion show. The Bronchiosaurus had on a pair of Polly Pocket pink roller skates, and Harper was putting Hello Kitty sparkly lip gloss on him. They’d set up a run-way and, as they bounced the prehistoric giants along, they sang, “Dinosaur, dinosaur, lonely and shy, dinosaur, dinosaur, ready to cry, tyranasaur, banasaur, osauraus of mine! Ya got a lot of buddies and you’re gonna be fine!” (from Sandra Boynton’s Philidelphia Chickens).
I stood up and heeled over to my desk (I didn’t want to ruin my polish!), picked up my blog planning journal and wrote down “girls make a dinosaur fashion show/lip gloss, polly pocket boots/sang dino song from boynton’s book and CD.”
Maybe I’ll use it in a story someday. But for now, I’m putting my bathing suit on and going outside to play.