Written by Morrine Depolo Artwork by Morrine Depolo I’m fortunate to have met Morrine during an online class at UCLA, and it is also where I was privileged to read a small portion of Maggie’s Shadow. Even then, I knew this … Continue reading
The Tyranny of Freedom
When my children were small, I told myself that I would write more if I didn’t have children. As they got older, I said I’d write more if I didn’t have them in the parent participatory school I had chosen for them. When my youngest was seven, I went back to teaching and paid someone to replace me at his school. Last year I said I could write more if I just didn’t have to teach.
I am off for the summer. My two sons are on a fishing trip and my daughter is at work as is my husband. I am so alone I feel naked. I have done a record amount of laundry and gotten that mammogram I’ve been meaning to get all summer. I’ve posted on Face Book and responded to my email. And now I’m here staring at the cursor, which seems to be laughing at me.
Summer gives me freedom to write but I can’t. I feel guilty because I am not using my time wisely. I am not using it at all. Writing is a pleasure, similar to meditation and when I hit my flow state I bounce back into life refreshed as though I just pushed up from the bottom of a swimming pool. Grace settles over me, making me feel that everyone is my best friend. My stories come from that sense of grace but it is difficult to find. Like a G spot. Or the peace that comes from being understood by a close friend.
During the school year I come home exhausted, have to contend with dinner and then somehow turn to my keyboard and let the ideas flow. And they do. Now I have a long, languid afternoon with absolute freedom to do whatever I want. It’s quiet, there’s a breeze at my window. The only noise is the PBS News Hour which I chose to turn on. I have this panicky feeling that time is racing while I’m sorting socks.
What this also means is that I can never relax. The school year is a steady stream of reasons to cope. It is fast paced and fluid. And it has a certain rhythmic satisfaction to it because every problem solved earns me gratification. During the summer, I am becalmed by no deadlines and the belief that it is my God-given right to relax. The only problem being that I can not relax either. I waste irreplaceable time castigating myself for not writing while attempting to unwind. I assign myself relaxation time during which I lie rigidly on the couch with a book in my hand, and my eyes on the clock.
So I’m stuck in limbo, feeling compelled to relax but unable to, needing to write, while powerless to think. I worry about starting school without having written a word. The Reality Police will come and tell everyone that I am not a writer. But they’ll be wrong. I did write this.
Once again, I’d like to thank Catherine for allowing her words to appear on my blog. Please feel free to say hello in the comment section below.
Thanks for stopping by!
Has a written a novel, RICHARD AND MICHAEL: AN AMERICAN FAMILY, which is so far unpublished. It is the story of two gay men, Richard and Michael, who met and fell in love in a Twelve Step program and their attempts to gain custody of Richard’s daughter from his fundamentalist Christian in-laws. She was a nominee for the James Kirkwood Award for Fiction in 2011 and has recently received her Creative Writing Certificate from UCLA’s on-line writing program. She is a middle school English teacher and lives in northern California with her family.
I would like to welcome Tracey Meloni as my first guest blogger.
Fate and memories led me back to writing, and writing groups.
In the late ‘80s, unpacking from a move in Washington, DC, I came upon an old issue of INGENUE magazine. Suddenly I was 14 again, a much-moved often lonely Army Brat, whose father had just been transferred to Wertheim, Germany. The previous summer I wrote and submitted a short story to INGENUE. Months passed, we moved to Germany and I guess I forgot about the submission.
Nothing is more fun than being The New Girl in a strange school and being called to the Principal’s office. Mortified, I went, with every eye in Miss Holland’s English class boring into me.
In the office were my parents, the Principal, and a photographer from the STARS & STRIPES newspaper. Everyone but me was smiling – the principal handed me the phone.
“Is that Mary-Teresa?”
“Congratulations, dear! Your story is our INGENUE winner. The prize is $100! We’ve been having the devil of a time finding you.”
$100. Practically a trust fund when I was 14…
But, after my 15 minutes of embarrassed fame, I went back to being The New Girl and didn’t write another me-driven word for 20 years.
Until I found that magazine. I remembered the journals that always had been my catharsis and the excitement of watching even my 14-year-old characters come to life.
Next day I called Washington Independent Writers, a wonderful group that boasted speakers like Gloria Steinem and, for modest annual fees, offered writers office space in the National Press Building, a health care plan, editing services and legal assistance, not to mention a first-rate Job Bank. I joined. All my favorite breadwinning gigs came from that Job Bank. My inspirations came from the Small Group Evenings members hosted to encourage one another.
Until 2009, when WIW went bankrupt, largely due to lack of interest among new writers. The Small Groupers promised to stick together, but we all know how THAT goes.
So I signed up for UCLA Extension classes…and found my way (eventually) to a great group and this blog.
I’ve never felt more like writing, not even when the National Press Building offered me free research space. I can’t thank all of you enough.
Writing is a demanding mistress, and it leaves you lonely; it may leave your friends confounded and your family frustrated.
Only other writers really “get it.” How wonderful that we have found each other!
Finding INGENUE those years ago was serendipity – it reminded me who and what I really want to be, and made me keep looking until I found other like-minded animals. I’m so glad not just that we CAN help and encourage each other’s writing – but that we want to.
Tracey Edgerly Meloni won a short story contest as a teenager and just kept on writing. Her most recent award: a first place in feature writing from the Virginia Press Association. Formerly press secretary to three California Congressmen and Virginia’s senior Senator. She pens a weekly newspaper travel column, contributes regularly to several magazines and writes about worldwide health and travel with her physician husband.
**I want to express deep thanks to Tracey for allowing her post to appear on my blog.**
Please take a moment to say hello to Tracey in the comment section.
Questions to ponder:
1. Do you feel that fate has played a role in any way with the outcome of any of your goals/pursuits?
2. Can you share with us how a group or a person has influenced you? Was it positive or negative?
Again, please feel free to leave a comment…
Thanks for stopping by,
The other morning my creative voices woke me from a much-needed deep sleep and had plenty to say. The voices were pushing and prodding me get my butt out of bed and into the chair. As I’ve told you in other posts, I’ve had a tough journey over the last year and a half, one that began with the decision to take a writing workshop. I don’t think I could have anticipated what happened during the workshop.
They validated not only my writing but me as well.
And it scared the bejeezus out of me. The ladies in my group liked my writing and all I could think to do was get the hell out of dodge as fast as I could and never go back. That’s my calling card: Runs away when faced with praise.
But instead of running away I decided it was time to put myself out there by sharing my desire to write with other people by blogging, twitter and by furthering my education by enrolling the Creative Writing Program offered online at UCLA.
Through my online classes I learned that a healthy workshop environment is all about helping a writer understand when something is working and when something isn’t. A workshop is about support not about bashing the writer. They gave me their thoughts and ideas to use during re-writes or not. More importantly, I realized I wasn’t alone and that I am a writer.
We all struggle with our abilities as writers but the key to success is to write everyday. That’s it. It’s that simple. We may never get published or end up on the best sellers list but we will write and we will improve.
All of this leads me to my point. I had the honor of meeting some really wonderful women during my online classes through UCLA and I began an online Facebook group with them. It’s our safe place. During our class these women went above and beyond to show support and enthusiasm for the craft of writing and to support each other’s dreams. We’ve all gone on to other classes but can’t seem to find the same level of camaraderie that our class had. I think we have a special group. When some of the ladies began to throw around the idea about starting their own blogs I asked them to do “guest posts” here until they get their own blogs going. We are all so excited to share the journey and show support for other writers that struggle with staying positive and finding motivation.
I feel that if something is a dream it is worth pursuing no matter what. But we always have to remember it’s the work that will eventually make us better writers not just the desire.
I hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing women as much as I have.
As always, thanks for stopping by,