Both Fires

I think I decided to start this blog on the day I found a Lego in my coffee and a swath of hot pink Play-doh dried onto the seat of my one pair of decent jeans (Do you even need to ask if I found the Play-doh before or after I went out in public?). For some reason, the Lego in my coffee seemed the greater of the two insults, and it really drove something home to me: These kids aren’t going anywhere for a long, long time.

Maybe that should’ve been obvious. The Bean, our oldest, is seven; second son, AJ, is five; and Sister is three years old. It’s not as if they’re even close to being launched - they’re not even all in school yet! But I think I thought that after the baby days were over, there would be a little more room for Me in my days. I thought, in particular, there would be a little more time for writing.

And I suppose there is (I’m writing this, after all); but really, there’s not much. For seven years now I have endeavored to carve out little corners of time and space for my writing that the children would not invade. It never has worked very well. If I get up at 4:00 a.m., they get up at 4:15. If I try to write during Dragon Tales, suddenly they lose interest in their favorite TV show. If I try to write at night after they are in bed, they don’t stay in bed (it’s as if they know or something!).

So the Lego and the Play-doh really made me think about how I could expand my writing life without trying quite so hard to keep the kids out of it. Thus was born the idea for this blog: a little corner of the world where I can be both mom and writer.

The more I thought about the idea, the more I liked it, and the more I thought it fit with a tradition I’m glad to be a part of: women writers who are also mothers, daughters, sisters, grandmas, aunts, and friends. Writers who have not closed themselves off to the joys and demands of family life, but who have embraced them, and still find a way to be true to their art. It made me think of some words from my college writing professor Valerie Sayers who once wrote to me:

"I wrote an essay a few years back about how motherhood, for me, turned out to be a great cover for my writing life -- and how it opened me up to experiences and worlds I never would have otherwise known.  I've also discovered that women -- perhaps the ones who carry around an image of 19th century women scribbling away in the kitchen -- have passed on the traditions of keeping at it throughout their lives, well into old age, and taking time off when they need (or have) to.  For whatever reasons, we don't seem deterred if we haven't published the Great American Novel by the age of 28. So it's lovely to hear you're part of that tradition that's keeping both fires going."

Now you know where I got the name for this blog. And since I’m long past the age of 28,.................. let the writing (or, er, blogging) begin.

P.S. If you enjoy good fiction, you should read Valerie’s books. Ask for them at your local independent bookseller, or buy them here.

*Notes added 8/28/2010:  I am indebted to other bloggers for ideas for regular posts.  The concept of Confessions came from Book of Kells, as did the idea for Gratitude Journals (other po-bloggers do confessions, as well, usually on Tuesdays; the Catholic in me had to go for Saturdays, however).  The idea for Wordless Wednesdays come from some other blog, not a poetry blog, that I can't remember the name of now.  As every writer is told at every writing class or conference:  beg, borrow, and steal!  But I like to give credit where credit is due.

*Notes added 1/2/2011:  Lately, I have begun writing process notes to describe the process of drafting poems.  I am indebted to Sandy Longhorn for this idea.  Sandy often writes process notes on her drafting days, and I have enjoyed reading them and have learned a lot from them.  I find I also learn about my own writing process as I write my own notes.  Sandy's blog, Myself the Only Kangaroo Among the Beauty, is linked in the left margin under "denizen of."  Thanks, Sandy!

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