We write to taste life twice: in the moment and in retrospection. ~ Anaïs Nin
Retrospection, the action, or process of looking back on things is something I’ve been obsessed with my whole life. Starting with a diary in third grade, I wrote things like, “Joni is a brat.” And, “Johnny let me ride his bike.” When I entered adolescence, I became curious about the meaning of life, my place in it and boys. I’ve been keeping a journal off and on for nearly sixty years now. There have always been more questions than answers.
School and college kind of ruined my ability to write creatively. Academic papers contain certain parameters and expectations. I envy people whose words seem to pour effortlessly onto the page. When I write it feels like I’m pulling a heavy bucket from the bottom of a deep well. The rope burns my hands, I’m sweating and laboring to get that bucket to the top, and when I do, the bucket is only half full.
I wrote an essay.
I started playing around with ideas for a book last May or June. About the same time, Trista Hendren called for submissions on Medusa for a new Girl God anthology. I was working on that when I hired a writing coach, Debra Marrs. She helped me get my scattered thoughts in order and prodded me to get more concise. The end result was one of my best pieces ever. Better yet, it was accepted for the anthology! As thrilling as it is to get published in a book, it’s only the beginning.
I decided to write a book.
Deciding what to write about has taken a long time. Debra and I went in circles for awhile with ideas. I sent her dump drafts and vignettes as requested. Words flowed and then they didn’t. Eventually, I discovered that what I really want to write about is cycles, seasons and elements, and spiral patterns.. In retrospect, my journey through life has been intriguing. I’ve learned a lot through struggles with loss, problems with drugs and alcohol, and relationships. Counseling and working a program of recovery taught me many things about mental and emotional health. Spiritual growth is inherent in all of it.
I’m writing my own book.
Everyone says, “There’s nothing new under the sun.” True, but I have a unique perspective, one that is guided by nature. We’re all circumscribed by the elements and affected by the seasons. Women are naturally cyclical, we’re pulled by the moon, we ebb and flow. The Milky Way, our galaxy, is shaped like a spiral. Around and around we go, sometimes with intentionality, sometimes not. Sometimes we intersect with others who are different from us, sometimes we don’t.
My book is intended to be inclusive but it won’t be for everyone.
It’s impossible to write for everyone. I write for those who yearn like I do for beauty and poetry in the world, who support creative thoughts and actions, who seek spiritual meaning and depth of purpose.
I’m not writing toothpaste ads.
Superficiality is not my strong suit. I don’t care whether or not your teeth are gleaming, your hair is straight or blonde, your body is super-model thin and or if you make six figures. I care about whether or not you’re struggling to live a life aligned with your values, if you’re trying to juggle fifteen balls all at once or if you still don’t know who you want to be when you grow up. Yes, I’m white and I’ve lived a privileged life. It doesn’t mean I don’t know about living, making mistakes, crying my eyes out and laughing hysterically.
I’m writing with child-like wonder and leaving cynicism and fear behind.
Somewhere inside each of us there is a lodestone, a magnet in our hearts that pulls us towards something meaningful. It’s different for everyone but the yearning exists. I won’t ignore fear, failure, despair or death because it’s part of life. I will continue to rejoice in the sunrise, a setting moon, blue sky, daffodils in spring, juicy fruit in summer, pumpkins in the fall, and the sound of pine crackling in a fire. There is so much good in the world. It exists at the edges of environmental destruction and crumbling civilizations.
I’m writing a book about it all.
Note: This is a photo of Ernest Hemingway’s typewriter. It’s in his house in Key West where he lived very well.