A Mother's Writing Life Version 2.0


The only thing constant about my writing life is that it is always changing. If I try to set myself up into some kind of routine, it inevitably falls apart within a week or two. When I think of the oft-given writing advice to schedule your craft for the same time every day, so that your muse might follow, I feel despair. Because that just ain't happening. I thought my time would be early mornings, up with the baby. But then she started sleeping a little later, and, thankfully, so did I. Then, I thought it would be during Colm's nap, but Charlotte doesn't reliably sleep for that and it leaves Aedan alone in front of the t.v. for an hour or more. Then, I thought it would be an hour several times a week in the corner coffee shop, but that's only happened twice, because life with three littles is crazy and unpredictable.

My muse must be fast and ready at all times, prepared to leap into action whenever I find 30 minutes or an hour alone. I have to trust that she is just the muse I need at this point in my life. It encourages me, just now, to imagine this spirit: she is wiry and tough, sharp-eyed and always listening. She sees the opportunity coming before I do, and she begins to hum in anticipation. And I hear that hum, hear it steady and low beneath the constant (and I do mean constant) chatter around me. Together we snatch up a pen and paper, or fire up the computer, and we create something. We put words together, or rearrange them on the page. We build my writing life new each day.

I've been drawn to poetry over these last couple of months, both because of its compressed nature and because it's my first love. I've been writing and rewriting several poems, polishing them til they gleam, til I can't look at them anymore. Yesterday, I sent them out to several online literary magazines for consideration. I'll try not to think about them and how they might be faring out there as I move on with new poems.

This morning over oatmeal and green tea, I emailed a local writer's society to inquire about their critique groups. And I joined the mailing list for the Ontario Writer's Conference, which I hope to attend in the spring.

So, even though this seems like the worst, most ridiculous time to be building a writer's life, I'm doing it. Because, like I said in this post back in July, this is the only life I can save. And as Elizabeth Gilbert points out in her inspiring new book, Big Magic, this life is temporary, so why not use it to create?

This post is part of the #WhatImWriting link up. Please visit Writing Bubble to see the other linkers!


Heart in Two Places


It's been almost a year since we left our Yukon home. We left with plans to spend the darkest part of winter visiting family in Ontario and exploring the beaches of Costa Rica. But our beach plans changed mid-vacation, and soon after returning to Ontario, we began talking about moving our family cross-country. It has been the easiest, and also the most difficult thing I've ever done.

Here in Ontario, my kids get to experience the connection to their extended family that I enjoyed growing up.  We see my sister and her son at least once a week, and we usually spend our weekends with my parents. P and I are free to go on dates occasionally; Aedan enjoys sleepovers at Gramma's; we visit my grandmothers regularly.  I didn't realize how important all of this was to me until I had kids on the other side of the country, 2 day's travel from our family. Seeing pictures on Facebook of my family's gatherings, with all of that distance between us, was heartbreaking. Watching my sister get married via FaceTime because I was too pregnant to travel, was heartbreaking. I no longer felt like living in the Yukon was a gift: it felt like an exile, self-imposed. But we had a home there, a business, and roots put down over a decade, longer for P.

We made the decision to move in distress.  From the safety of my parents' house, I felt intense anxiety at the thought of going back to our little cabin in the woods. I was dreading having another baby so far from my mom, and from all of the support of extended family. So we scraped together our resources, we made it work, somehow, and we bought a house here. What started as a trip "out" became a huge move. P has been back regularly, for work, and I've had one brief visit. The boys have yet to return, though.

When I think of our Northern home, I remember the total hush at our cabin. Even in town, there is a resounding lack of all the background noise of a larger city. No sirens wailing, no trains shunting along the tracks, no traffic hum. Rarely, a helicopter's blades cutting through the air. Instead we hear the wind in the spruce, the leaves of birch and aspen tremble, the shush of the river coursing by. Quiet so complete you can hear a raven's wings beat overhead. And the community in Dawson is like a huge extended family, looking out for one another. There are the dark parts, too, like any family. But overall, it's a caring place and an exciting one, too. There are so many possibilities there, and chances to affect real change in the community. In the Yukon it's easy to raise kids with an appreciation for nature, because you're surrounded by it. And kids who grow up there are often a little different: independant, enterprising, creative.

Choosing to leave all of that behind was horrible. But when I see Aedan playing with his cousin or when I send the kids to my mom's when I need a break, I know beyond a doubt that it was absolutely the right choice.  My heart is here, with my family, but it's back there, too. Robert Service wrote of it in his poem "Spell of the Yukon". It gets under your skin, that place. It runs in your blood and it beats in your bones. I still identify as a Yukoner; it is such a huge part of who I am today. And I know we'll return to our hushed cabin in the woods. We'll find a way to honour our two hearts.


Identity Crisis


I've been silent here these past few weeks. In that time I've been writing poetry; I've reconnected with my university creative writing professor, who has offered to serve as my mentor; I've continued down a path of healing from PPD, taking good care of myself and, in turn, my family. It's been good to be somewhat offline, but I haven't forgotten about this blog. In the back of my mind, I've been wondering what I want for this space.

I started out wanting a creative outlet, but since finding my way back to poetry and deciding to take myself seriously as a writer, I feel like what time and energy I can spare for creative writing is better directed elsewhere. And although I'd like to use this space to connect with other writers and to talk about the intersection of writing and mothering, my posts solely about mothering and how difficult it can be have also been well received. And I feel like it's really important to talk about the hard, ugly truths of parenting. That being said, I sometimes want this to be a baby-free zone, a place to guard those parts of myself that are more than "mama."

So. Where does that leave us? I love blogging, with its possibility for connection and peering into the lives of others. I'm not ready to take a permanent step away from it.  Maybe I see the answer here in this post. Maybe I don't hold myself to any one topic, and continue to write what's in my heart. I guess I just feel like I owe the writers a post about writing, the mamas a post about moming, and those who are just curious readers a post more interesting than this one!

What would you like to read more of here? If you blog, have you ever had a similar blog identity crisis? I'd love to hear how you moved past it in the comments!

This post is part of the #WhatImWriting linkup. Please go to Muddled Manuscript to visit the other participants!

395 2015 Day 51