albionidaho: (Default)
I get a lot of questions about rearing kids and writing as much as I do, and how I'm as productive as I am. It was also something that both Mary Rosenblum and Connie Willis discussed with me at Clarion West. I was the only young mother there (the mother of a six-year-old and a three-year-old), and they knew the societal, familial, and personal expectations for me were and are huge.

Mary and Connie talked about how having a supportive spouse is important, and not everyone has that. There are really no answers for how to deal with that -- every relationship is as complicated and as unique as the people that are in it. But it is something that every writer has to deal with (can and will and does the person I'm with understand why I spend all this time doing what I do?) can they deal with this?), and it's particularly an issue to deal with when one is a wife and mother. Despite the evolution of our culture and the role of women within it, there are a lot of attitudes and expectations that have not changed. Particularly in Idaho.

Read more... )

Finally, it's about choices.  There are a lot of things I don't spend my time on right now because if I'm to mother and write and do all these other things something will have to give.  This is part of the reason why I don't currently work on music much.  I have, in the past, played several instruments, my favorites being the piano and guitar, and I also sang, once upon a time.  I once was heavily involved with theater.  I used to be an artist, winning awards for my work.  I crochet, I knit.  I love to cook and garden and read.  I love movies.  I love hiking and exploring places I wouldn't take my children until they're older.  I love experiencing new things, pushing myself to the edge, feeling myself get carried away physically by whatever I'm challenging myself with.  I love to meet people, be with people.  I love to learn new things. I love to travel. I love to do research.  I have studied four languages, other than English.  But there isn't time to do all this now, so I make choices as to how to spend my time.  The piano and guitar will be there when the kids are older.  So will the yarn, and the theater, and the hiking trails and biking trails.  I do some of these things occasionally, but I don't pursue them as much as I'd like.  Mostly, I mother, I write, I read a bit (not as voraciously as I used to -- my permanent companions were books for so many years), and I love the people who are important to me.  And I blog.  Because blogging helps me process my life, and it's a record of who I am now.  And someday, someone will care.  I already have cared about who I was in the past, and my progeny may want to know who I was, as well.

I'm anthropologist.  We keep records.  Anthropologists are those who write things down at the end of the day.

albionidaho: (Default)
Today is brought to you by Lemongrass Green tea and  Jarvis "Smash the System" Cocker.

I have a confession to make.

Last night, after the kids were sung to and read to and hugged and kissed and in bed, I was going to write. And I didn't write. I ended up reading the entire back blog entries of a friend of mine because it's a fascinating, enjoyable, thoughtful, entertaining blog. I totally ate the crayons.

But you know, last night, the crayons were really good. Not waxy and unfulfilling at all.

However, I also stayed up way past my bedtime because of eating said  crayons, and now I'm exhausted this morning.  I am writing this morning, because we must press through and go on, though my typing speed and my clarity of thought and use of language has been moderately impaired. At least it seems that way.

At Clarion West, I believe it was Mary Rosenblum who pointed out that, as a general rule, when a writer evaluates the work they wrote on a day they didn't feel good and didn't feel like writing and the days they felt like they were on fire that they really wouldn't be able to tell the difference. (This, of course, isn't taking certain factors into consideration -- I know there are circumstances that can strongly affect one's ability to write well, e.g., certain medications and illnesses.) I assume this is one of those days for me -- tired, slow writing, but I'll not be able to differentiate what I produce today from what I produce on a really good day during this time period.
albionidaho: (Default)
Today is brought to you by lemongrass tea and Bela Bartok.

This year's NaNo novel will be completed tomorrow. I've done a lot of writing this week. *ahem*

As [livejournal.com profile] chris_reynaga has noted, one of the biggest lessons we were taught at Clarion West was the importance of simply sitting down in one's seat and writing regularly.  Just do it, as Nike was so fond of saying.  

It became evident that so much of writing was about consistent, steady practice.  Mary Rosenblum encouraged me to make up a story on a regular basis, maybe even every morning, from an article in the newspaper or a magazine.  It wasn't necessary to write it down, but it was ideal to figure out the main characters and the external and internal plot.  (She focused on the external plot with me as that was where I was lacking.) I was amazed at how skilled she was at simply sitting down with an idea and forming a whole story around it.  She said it was because she'd done it over and over and over again, year after year. 

This is a lesson I try to teach Avadore.  People don't just run marathons, people don't just sit down one day and read Moby Dick at four-years-old. Though talent is lovely, in the end so much of what we do is about practice.  Perseverance. 

Writing is a skill: it's learned, it's developed, it's honed, it's maintained.  And it's one of those skills that people continue to learn, develop, hone, and maintain.  Everyday.

This is why I encourage people to do NaNoWriMo.  It gets one in the daily writing groove for one month to the point that it can, ideally, become habit.
***

I think about writing a lot -- while singing with the kids as we drive to the grocery store, while I shower, while I cook. 

I live about a quarter mile from the country and a half mile from the city.  The Idaho version of a city, that is.  Today the kids and I drove in the opposite direction as everyone else and went to the country.  Avadore took pictures of some absolutely gorgeous horses. We talked about the changing season, how the leaves have all fallen and everything looks dead, but how there's a beauty in the color of the trees and bushes and sagebrush, how there's a beauty in the muted light.  We talked about how the farm animals were snuggled together for warmth, why the quality of the sunlight had changed, how the days were getting shorter and shorter.  We talked about how people have lots of celebrations during this time and how it helps people make it through the dark, winter months.  We came home and read National Geographic.  The kids and I love National Geographic.  We're total NG whores at my house.  We reread the China issue from May, and talked about China and how beautiful it is there, and how different, and why that's so. 

And all this time the back of my head was musing over lessons learned this summer in Seattle.

This is what it's like to be a girl -- we can maintain several hamsters in our heads at once.


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