Sunday, May 27, 2007
I am not a fan of frustration. Who is? Yesterday I was very frustrated. I know the deadline is arbitrary and only exists because I chose it, but it's all part of being a more productive writer. The deadline was for a book on divorce.
Suddenly, a country song pops into my mind, "My D-I-V-O-R-C-E becomes final today. Me and little J-O-E will be going away."
I am divorced. Twice. The first time was harder and I nearly changed my mind and asked my ex if we could try again, not just for the boys but for me. I was scared. I wasn't certain I could shoulder the weight of raising three boys alone and working two jobs or handle all the other weights that would be added just so I could walk away from what I thought I'd wanted seven years before. Ours was not an idyllic marriage and I certainly couldn't write about how I became physically allergic to him and broke out in hives and started itching like my skin was crawling with fire ants; it's not all that uplifting. I even called Beanie to ask her what uplifting and positive story she'd want to read if she was contemplating, going through, or had been divorced. She couldn't think of anything either. The months and years after the divorce were difficult and sometimes I felt like I'd never get through it all intact, but I did. None of it was pretty and, except for the boys, I didn't have a single positive thought that would uplift anyone. I thought I'd have to pass on writing the story, but I didn't want to give up. I had a deadline, arbitrary as it was, and I was going to find something to write about, something true and honest and uplifting and . . . well, you get the idea.
I fretted and worried. That didn't work. I freewrote for a while. That didn't work. Then I thought I'd step away from the problem and give myself a break. I couldn't read more than a few chapters of any of the books I'm reading or pay attention to the movie I decided to watch even though it was good quirky Ed Wood fun. I started the story, hoping and praying that some spark would ignite and I'd have the story I wanted, but it fell short. Still, I had a few hundred words written and it was something. I decided to go to bed.
I read a little more of the book I have to review but couldn't really focus, reading the same passages over and over and not making sense of any of it. It wasn't the book; it was me. I gave up, turned out the light, and went to sleep. At 2 a.m., in the midst of a really great dream about Doctor Who I woke up. It was partly my bursting bladder but mostly because I wanted to finish the story.
Reading over what I had written, I added a little flesh here and some muscle there and got caught up in it. By the time I got to the previous ending, I changed it and wrote a new ending. It was better. I read it over, nipping here, tucking there, adding a bit of something more, and it was soon finished. I had a story I was proud of and that actually was uplifting. I didn't gloss over the hard part or how I sat down to talk with my ex about maybe not getting divorced. It's in there. Mainly, I focused on the boys and the song I sang when I tucked them into bed nearly every night. It's a song I sang for Beanie when she was little. The story is called Lullaby. I sent it off at 4 a.m. this morning and I'm happy with it.
The more I write, the more I find I want to write, even when I have arbitrary deadlines. I have my To Do database and everything is sorted by deadline and publication. I know I'm putting pressure on myself, but I need goals, some kind of finish line, to keep in mind and work toward, a sort of reward for the effort.
Yesterday, I found some new markets that pay fairly well and posted them to one of my writing groups. Then I got busy, studied their guidelines and themes and I checked through what I already had on hand, adding them to my database. I edited and wrote and the end result was four stories being accepted for four themed issues. Not a bad haul, especially when you consider I'm getting paid for all of them. But it's really not about the money. For me, it's about writing the way I used to write with joy and happiness in the process and the satisfaction of having written something of which to be proud. I even managed a little something sensual and erotic and sent it to a friend who said the heat index was just right. She also said if it was even semi-autobiographical she was jealous. It was completely autobiographical. When it is published, I'll provide a link.
At any rate, every day is a journey and I'm learning a lot about myself and my writing by plumbing the depths of my past -- and present -- to write. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I can't say I left my husband to be with my soul mate or that that was even a concern. I can't say divorce was easy or that my children were not marked by the experience; we are all marked by the experiences of living whether such times be good, bad, or indifferent. I do know I did the right thing, finally, when I walked away from my marriage because it wasn't good between us. We were destroying each other and our children bit by bit and word by word, our anger ripping deep wounds that, if we had allowed it to continue, would never have healed and would have hurt our children even more. I do know, despite the difficulties and the sacrifices, that my children still believe in love and happiness and marriage, and that is something positive. They haven't avoided marriage because they didn't want a marriage like their parents had, and I know far too many people like that. I'm one of them.