Routines

On asking for what we need

On asking for what we need

At exactly 4 p.m., a text from our school district arrives, announcing the fourth snow day in a week, fifth if you count the day they sent the kids home early on account of an anticipated winter storm.

I am already resigned to the fact that O. will be home tomorrow, given the district’s track record — large flakes have been falling heavily all afternoon with no sign of a break. But the text reminds me just how far from normal this weather is for the Pacific Northwest — and how much of a transplant to this region I still am.

When a story isn’t

When a story isn’t

Last week, I talked about the challenge of facing a story that needs to be told when we’re afraid to start telling it. This week, the obstacle on my mind is not having a story to tell.

I spent the first two years of my graduate work in Iowa struggling to figure out what the central narrative of my thesis would be. Sure, I had stories. But my story — the one I was supposed to turn into a book-length manuscript — eluded me.

“Some people only have one book in them,” my thesis advisor said to me, intending to reassure but seizing instead upon my fears. “It takes the effort of a lifetime to write it.”

On setting intentions for process, not product

On setting intentions for process, not product

“Finding our ways as writers,” Louise DeSalvo writes in The Art of Slow Writing, “is a daily, ever-changing process. As soon as we've figured out how to work, something happens and everything falls apart and we need to learn how to work all over again.”

That is what the past few weeks have been about for me. I've been observing where my writing process has needed to shift around the changes in our family routines — a change of school, a change of schedule, a change in the availability of our childcare. It’s been messy. But to my relief, now that October has arrived, I feel some stability returning in spite of the loss of so much familiar structure.