Wednesday, June 27, 2012
A New Chapter
I formulated my teaching career goal at age four, and though I toyed briefly with other options (missionary, minister, journalist, architect), my teaching aspirations never really wavered. They gave me a very definite path to follow through college, and a sense of security as I worked through my Masters degree, my student teaching, and into a classroom of my own.
Motherhood likewise felt like an assured path. I followed the great tradition of meeting my husband in college and marrying him halfway through my Masters degree. We delayed a family to establish my teaching and secure his doctorate. The Grand Plan got waylaid by circumstances that ended our marriage--the stuff of other stories--and I entered a four-year period of single life, searching, and maternal dreams put on hold. I would have to wait through another courtship, a second wedding, and two devastating miscarriages to finally realize that long-standing dream of motherhood.
And then there were my expectations that I would be a writer. I kept a diary, wrote pre-adolescent poetry, wrote for my school newspaper, and edited the literary magazine. As an undergraduate English major, I continued merrily along my path. That is, until I interviewed for the staff of the college literary magazine and was soundly rejected by the pompous upperclassman then serving as its editor. Did I really allow one senior with a bad attitude to derail my entire life plan to become a writer? Could I have been so insecure, so ready to fold at the slightest obstacle? I think there were enough distractions and alternatives at the time that I just shrugged my shoulders and decided to fill my time with other things. How could I have cast aside writing so easily? All I can guess now is that the book's worth of pages I typed for my English, history, and Spanish literature classes kept me writing so endlessly that my creative writing inclination just quietly slipped into the shadows while I wasn't paying all that much attention.
The desire is beginning to stir again, though, and I am at a place in life where I have the time, energy, resources, and wherewithal to heed its return. Last week I pulled all my writing books off the shelf--Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones, The Right to Write, Writing Motherhood, Pen on Fire--and dusted off my scrawny one-subject notebook to resume Morning Pages, a la Julia Cameron.
And today I took the next big step. I invited my friend Mindy to be my writing partner and my Friendly Reader. We decided to meet weekly for writing and sharing, while also committing to writing daily in between. We are going to do our own Morning Pages, complete the Set the Timer exercises in Pen on Fire, and share other interesting writing prompts and activities with each other as we run across them.
I usually sit around and think about plans and ideas and possibilities for months, sometimes even years, before I act on them. I am so excited that I only took a week to take major action to return to a real passion with roots all the way back to childhood.
In The Right to Write, Julia Cameron asks, "What if there were no such thing as a writer? What if everyone simply wrote? What if there were no 'being a real writer' to aspire to? What if writing were simply about the act of writing?" She goes on, "What if we allowed ourselves to be amateurs (from the Latin verb amare, 'to love')." My plan is simply to write: to write because I love it, to write because I want to, to write because it makes my brain feel good.
Come along for the ride!