Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Empty Dumpty

Umee, Umee, what do you see?
I see two babies looking at me
…Wait, help! I can’t see anything else.

Writing fits perfectly with a stay-at-home mom’s routine, and it’s the one craft that actually got more fun after kids. Writing is my therapy, escape, morning cup of coffee, contribution to human consciousness. When I really want to enjoy myself, I buy an inspirational writing book from the bookstore, because those repetitive little mantras make me so excited about clothbound notebooks, textured paper, and ballpoint pens. I start to dream in yellowed pages and pretty, stately fonts.

Almost every book on writing starts out with beating writer’s block, getting over the self-doubt and perfectionism that hinders writers from sitting down to perform their painful magic. But I confess—I rarely have writer’s block. I don’t resist writing or put it off. Revved up and ready, when I have a topic in mind I can’t wait to sit down and scribble away, no matter how disjointed it comes out. I have fun doing it because I know writing is a process and I have to go through many, many rewrites before I will ever produce something winning.

But it’s not all good. My head is a quarter-of-a-century-old piggy bank with a couple of dimes rattling around inside. Experience, adventure, in-depth knowledge have been very sparse with their allowances, and I struggle to find the rich, colorful words and objects and emotions to weave into my work. I might like to write, but my life is too shallow for the words to live there.

So, when I sit at the computer all psyched, this is what happens:

Hm, let’s see. (hee hee, I’m so excited!)

I end up writing about green popsicles. Or about a telemarketer for Wyndham Resorts who wouldn’t let up even though my kids were screaming in the background—do you really like whiny little kids at your luxury resorts? Sometimes I write about my own circular thinking traps, or about the hunky-dory life of a lonely housewife, or try on a writing style that isn’t my own--trust me, no one wants to hear those threads. The only promising vein of imagery in my head is along this line: leather-soled baby shoes, dimpled toes; sippy cups of every material and shape; felt squares, sequins, and Elmer’s Glue; The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Blueberries for Sal.

I love writing about my kids, but I doubt my friends enjoy hearing about them constantly. You would think, given my resume (oh YEEAAH, haha, remember those?), that I would have a lot more junk sitting around in my mind. But I can’t seem to dig it out. I’m not the well-rounded hip mama who will chit chat and smartly put pop culture in then out of diapers.

When I get a rare non-child-inspired writing moment, I will keep it on life support as long as I can. Until then, I'm afraid the only nourishment here for your mind are smooshed fries and fish crackers.

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