So I started brainstorming. Water bug. Water fall. Water breaks. Water boarding. Birthing tub. Or, slip-n-slide, flotsam jetsam, Floridian crocodile-laden fan boat ride. Fishing with my father.
I grew up in a town where the Milwaukee River bends west. On a private lake called Paradise.
For about six months now, I’ve been editing for Structo Magazine, a remarkably humble (and classy) literary magazine based in the U.K. (A recent Skype meeting with Euan Monaghan, the magazine’s founder and editor-in-chief, led to a brief discussion about humility.)
But there are days when dishes pile up and my one-year-old son seems a little clingy. To the knees of my sweatpants as I try to fix lunch. There are days when I haven’t written something new. Weeks, perhaps. Months? And so there are days when using energy on something else seems almost absurd.
Then I have another Skype session with Euan; I’m back on the boat and we’re all rowing. I’m part of a community of literary enthusiasts. (Euan is, refreshingly, not a writer but a planetary scientist.)
And all of this is to say that Structo is looking for readers who want to be part of this smart, passionate, and oft times quirky crew. Pick up an oar, and apply here.
Alright, so I’ve got some books. A lot of which I’ve read: college assignments, trendy new releases, and old, wonderfully soft spots. A lot of which I’ve not really (ever?) touched. (I get free shipping if I buy four more books? Oooh, what’s this in the free used book bin? A book for Christmas? You should have!)
I’ve also got a Goodreads profile. A sorely neglected one. So here’s the project: catalogue the books I’ve got and then read them. All of them. Not quickly. Not too slowly. Very medium.*
When we moved from The States to the Netherlands, the books fit neatly in 35 boxes. (See a the partial shipment here.) I’ll set a goal of finishing them before we move back. When? you ask along with my parents. Who knows. I’ll keep you posted.
Today, I’ll continue working on a book that was a gift from my dad to my husband. (If it’s in my living room, it’s in my tally.) It’s called Proust and the Squid by Maryanne Wolf. Nonfiction about the brain’s acquisition of language. So far so good.
*Bonus points to anyone who can find an old news clip. A reporter, standing at the bottom of a sledding hill, asked a young girl if she liked to go very fast or very slow. The girl paused and then said, “Um, I like to go very medium.”
Unlike most, if I wake up tired, I have a choice. I’m in my pajamas after all, and therein squats the problem. The best part about being an author is, you guessed it, the same thing that makes it hard.
There are some writers who are able to convince themselves of anything. But if I could say to myself, You’re not tired, then I could also say things like, You believe in the Easter Bunny.
When I had a more traditional job, it was easier to see myself romantically, easier to fantasize stealing away minutes to write. It was also easier to believe that stealing away those minutes was the right thing to do.
So now we skip to the best part of the best part: being an author forces me to have a balanced life. If I wake up and I’m sick or tired or hung-over, I can’t make myself sit at the computer and write well. I just can’t. So if I want to be a writer, then I’ve got to get enough sleep. Things don’t have to be perfect. Occasionally, I row my personal best drunk. (That happened only once in my three years of collegiate crew.) But usually, that’s not how it works.
So, fine, go out and drink like Hemmingway. Early Hemmingway. Smoke a cigar. But then brush your teeth and chug some water and go to bed. After all, it’s easy enough to second guess yourself as a writer. Not working out or getting a good meal or enough sleep, makes it even easier. A good writer is a confident one.
I don’t own a Kindle. Not a Nook. Haven’t had a cell phone for two years. And having any of those things doesn’t make you a bad person. Unless you’re sexting in traffic, I won’t hold a single one against you. But I–I have books. Lots of them. An addiction to them. (Now anyway, as a teenager, I had an aversion.) Boxes of books I shipped, two years ago, by boat across The Atlantic. They’re in the living room, and the baby’s room, and in the bedroom and my office. And now, for our visitors’ reading pleasure, upstairs, in the guest room. The paper-page takeover continues…
Alright, so I don’t technically have a child. Yet. But, one has been growing in my uterus for the last 30 weeks; I’m going to count it. My presents this very first year include:
1. Two men’s formal-wear vests from my parents
2. Two cans of root beer from my husband
Click here for a story about motherhood before I knew much at all about it: http://www.versewisconsin.org/Issue112/poems/stroikStocke.html.