Robert Frost wrote to his editor about their summer rental house, in an area of New Hampshire where they rented for many years: "Our summer was one of the pleasantest we have had in years. . . . There is a pang there that makes poetry."
I know that pang--it can trigger poetry or fiction or even a good blog post. It's a subtle thing and has to be encouraged and given time to spread out into a life. A life I don't think I have anymore.
And that's the problem--it looks nice, but I don't read them. Haven't read them for about the last 18 months. Opening them reminds me of another time in my life when I thought I would write, when I thought I had the power to push through the ennui of life and Produce the Novel. Write that fiction that would be talked about in literary circles. I would be the one of my graduating class to be on NPR one day, reading an essay into a microphone, spreading the gospel of my writing throughout the broadcast world. I really believed I would do it. Then I really wanted to believe I would do it. Then I sort of believed I could do it. And then I stopped opening up the magazines. I hated going to gatherings of my grad school colleaguesor UCR's Writers Week, or anything where they talked up what they were writing, and what magazines were accepting their stories. It didn't really matter to me what mags were, because I wasn't writing. I wasn't getting those 9 x 12 envelopes all lined up, sending my little pieces of fiction or poetry out into the world, like little flat children.
I was teaching. I was getting a child (or two) married. I was dealing with the illness of a daughter. I was traveling. I was meeting new grandchildren. I was building memories with my husband. I was sewing, quilting. I was carefully not writing about the things that caused that sharp turn in my heart, for they were too overwhelming. I was reading. I was listening to music. I was loyal, holding back, preserving privacy. I was reconciling what I thought I was going to do with what I was doing. I shuffled through doctors. I graded papers. I wasted time. All the while, the binders with various drafts of my novel were like those eerie-but-wise stone carvings in Lord of the Rings flanking the calm river where Frodo paddles past, on his way to his uncertain future. Today I am moving those binders to the garage.
I'd be lying if I said I weren't sad.
We used to say in Creative Writing that you can't go back to your earlier writing because you change, and that pang that triggered what you wrote then, is not longer there. This I know is true. And I am sad that I will never figure out how to move that character in my novel from her ways of avoiding the emotional center, keeping a careful balance, to the place where she deals head on with the awful calm and crazy that is her life.
Until I can figure this writing thing out (and I may never do that), this blogging forum will be my place to write, to craft something wordwise. For even though I may have left Margaret stranded in Wisconsin, I can keep the writing muscle limber enough to find her--or some other creature--again.