Every writer, struggling or not, should watch Nim’s Island at least once. While I don’t eat soup from a can (you have to see the movie), I hate spiders, and I need solitude to write, sometimes a seemingly impossible task. I’m talking about privacy, not the writing. I have sat, pen in hand, blank paper, eating way more cinnamon sugar pita chips than Weight Watchers allows. I also have a secret stash of bittersweet chocolate for inspiration. Apparently, not-so-secret since Christmas gift tags were labeled ‘Mrs. Chococlate, aka Mom, Jen, Grammy’.
Writing is natural for some; we share stories, memories and create people and places larger than life. Suddenly, along comes writer’s block, and it’s hard to get the words flowing. Maybe it’s because your husband interrupts your deep thoughts to ask if ‘we have a vacuum cleaner.’ Not where is it, but do we have one? Honestly, how do you recover from biting your lip and avoiding the incredulous stare…you don’t. Not right away.
“Craig, the vacuum is in the closet.”
Oh my goodness! Stay calm. Breathe.
“The hall closet.”
“Upstairs or down?”
Are you kidding me? We don’t even have a hall downstairs.
I make a mental note and a physical one. I will write about him another time. The man who cannot find almond milk in the fridge but miraculously digs out a pair of 90’s jeans from the donate pile and slips them on as if none of us will notice.
Back to writing…almost. Here comes my college-bound son asking if I’m busy. Like all good mothers, I lie.
“Not at all. What’s up?”
“I think I’m going to change my major. I want to do it now before I get there.”
“Change to what?”
“Communications, specialty in writing.”
No, my silent voice says, it’s really tough. Everyone won’t love what you write, ideas won’t always come, money can be tight. Stay with the Biology major. Surgery on mice will be easier. Of course, I say none of this! What God-fearing mother, who has been through this twice already, dare advise.
“I realize I’m happy when I write, and I don’t want to work in a biology lab.”
“What changed your mind?”
“Been thinking a lot lately (something writers often do), and I realize it isn’t about money. I need to enjoy what I do.”
The conversation waddles a bit, and I give him my full support. I have two other sons already through college, neither working in their degreed fields, but besides the vacation home I could’ve bought with their education costs, they are both happy and doing well.
“Sounds good. I love you and support your decision.”
I know I sound like I read some self-help book on appropriate responses, but actually, it’s true. Writing is about passion and the way we tell things. Our voices are all so unique, and he’s a good writer. Deep down, I see him writing. He’s been correcting everyone’s grammar since the fourth grade. Read Hemmingway to Austen to Gladwell. Writes his own music and poetry. His friend Em and him exchange calligraphy written letters via an imaginary pigeon aptly named Figment. He’ll be an excellent writer.
On the other hand, my husband could use a career change, perhaps try exploration, right inside the house. I have a list of objects he’s not been able to find that are all exactly where they should be.
Vacuum Cleaner (closet)
Aluminum Foil (drawer with all other baggies and wraps)
Ice Cream Scoop (we have three)
TV Remote (same bin it’s been in for 5 years)
Peanut Butter (he ate it all…again)
Wallet (hit the Tile tracker you received as a gift)
I forgot what I sat down to write about today because that is what happens sometimes. We’re not just writers. We’re mothers, spouses, counselors extraordinaire, a myriad of things. Every now and then, we have a story to tell.