April 1, 2009

Flung Free

I was thinking about this first day away from the challenge of writing a slice a day. As I lay in bed, waiting for the sun to wake up (and fully awaken me!) I could only think about being placed in a slingshot and with a long, strong pull-back--like in the cartoon shows--this character was launched. But unlike those deftly drawn figures, I don't see the return on my horizon. The Slice of Life Story Challenge ran for the month of March, and there's not another month of writing until next year, or so I've read. So la-de-da, free of it all--the pressure to write when there's nothing there, the call to write when I should be cleaning or folding the laundry, the desire to write when something tugs at the heart.

But am I ever free of the writing? TC Boyle writes about it being a monkey on the back, a burden that can never been shaken off.

In some of the final comments, my new writing/reading friends alluded to wanting to see what I'd write once I wasn't confined to Slicing (our name for our daily sallies into writing about our life). I guess we all wonder that about each other--as in what do you REALLY think, we ask our husbands or friends as we pose, twisting and turning in the dressing room mirror at the department store. A smart responder has learned the fine art of not responding directly if the opinion is not flattering. He or she may be thinking, "You look like the side of a barn," but has learned to say, "I think the pink dress suits you more than this white one." So, have we pulled punches this past month? Perhaps, in a kind of necessary dressing room deception.

I read my distant relative's blog. She's a young mother of three children, and was recently diagnosed with cancer. Her blog, written from the gut (she's a great writer) is vivid, raw, right at that knife edge of realization, denial, and anticipation. One scene she described was when she was in the shower, letting the water fall over her, over her hair soon to be lost to chemotherapy, not having the energy to get out, get dressed, be the Mom, find the hair bows, fix the dinner. Not finding the energy to do more than stay in that shower.

We all have our shower moments, unable or unwilling to write about foibles and crises that are too fresh, too close to the surface. Not many are like this young woman, able to convey with grace and precision the rawness of the moment. When I read my early journals, from when I was her age, I am amazed at what I threw down on that page during the complete upending of my life during an unwanted divorce. You could grate cheese on those words, as they were as harsh and abrasive as were the emotions. Now, some twenty years later, I find that I'd rather let things stew, ruminating them around while I'm trying to figure out how to access them. Do I sit on my material too long, letting it escape?

The other danger to a wanna-be print writer is best expressed, with a twist, by Robert Frost's sage observation: "Talking is a hydrant in the yard and writing is a faucet upstairs in the house. Opening the first takes the pressure off the second."

A blog can sometimes be a hydrant.

But it can also be a conduit, a way to connect and reach out and find good writing in many corners of the web. We'll see what happens.

Stay Tuned.


  1. Some things to think about - I also feel the need to write, not so much to vent (as I might have when I was younger) but because it helps me sort out those words that have been floating around in my head.

  2. Wow, Elizabeth, way to crank up your writing. I'll follow.

  3. I'm delighted to find your blog. I wish I had seen it sooner, when winter was bogging me down. I've linked to your blog on mine mattiespillow.wordpress.com in my latest poetry challenge.

    Happy writing!

  4. Hmmm...sitting on the writing too long. I can relate to that! I have these ideas that I just never write down. Now and then I finally get one on paper and it is either as good as I wanted it to be, or I realize that even on paper I can't get past the beginning.