Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

writing hat ladySummer is here, but summer vacation has gone the way of the dinosaurs. So, my teenage sons are spending way too many hours at home alone, on the computer, while I run to one job from the other. Poor dudes don’t even get my extra 15 minutes of coherency as I am usually otherwise focused on accomplishing/avoiding all of the home/car/finance stuff that must be done. Something as basic as taking the car in for safety inspection, or getting rid of the poison ivy from the backyard fence might take months to get from “need to” to “trying to” to “done.”

“That’s the way baseball go.”  — Ron Washington, Texas Rangers manager

“That’s the way single parenting go.” — me, stealing from Ron Washington

What I really haven’t done much of lately is write. My empty journal, the long lapses between blogs (with several unfinished drafts stored here), and my plays and my stories are…still cooking…somewhere…around here. I think. I hope.

TRUTH: I love to write. I live to get lost in writing. I long to be involved in something, to write, to be “in The Flow” and lost to the world.

TRUTH: I avoid writing. I don’t know why, because I know writing will help heal me, or at least help me move along a little easier on this cluttered, confused path.

TRUTH: I am afraid to write. It’s a hot stove. Getting too close is uncomfortable; touching hurts. So, I avoid it. Meanwhile, my desperate little creative brain composes all day long, scenes, monologues and dialogues forming in bittersweet bursts that happen at work as I am mucking out a stall or standing watch in the goat yard, where there is no chance to write in between keeping toddlers out of the water bowl and answering questions from the adults.

Parent: Are these goats pregnant?
Me: No. They’re just fat.
Parent: Are you sure? This one looks pregnant.
Me: None of the goats are pregnant.
Parent: Really? Because –
Me: The males are fixed. They’re all just fat.
Parent: Are you sure? Because this one looks like it’s about to deliver.
Me: That one’s a boy.
Parent: Are you sure?

Some days, I write in my head and despair that it’s all lost because my short-term memory is impeded – and that even if I do remember it, I will never be able to sit down and put to paper (or computer). When I get home, if there’s time after the must-do’s and I am able to sit down to write, I too often find that I am blocked, frustrated and despairing. The scenes and ideas that were dancing around in my head earlier in the day are in fragments, like leaves chewed up and shot out by a lawn mower.

Depression says don’t bother because how many more years can I spend writing plays that go nowhere before I start sniffing Liquid Paper and dressing like Hunter S. Thompson?

It is so much easier to give up than to keep on trying. The allure of mindlessness wins again, and I again end up back at the non-stop conversation that is Facebook, or compulsively checking and re-checking for new text messages.

My body-mind is on overload. My chi is depleted. My rain barrel is full. Life is hard. But hey, there’s Scrabble on Facebook and Words With Friends on my phone, and if I have to, I’ll resort to sorting through the 7,205 email messages in my inbox to keep me from thinking too much about the fact that the other side of the bed is so, so empty.

I miss my husband. I miss him. There is never a time where that loss and the horrors that preceded it are not with me. If I go where my mind wants me to go, if I let down the walls and let the flow of thoughts and feelings return, will they carry me away? Will they recede and leave me eating sand? Will I drown?

If I don’t write, if I keep pushing the muse away, will she pack her things and go, for good?

I have often wished for a “normal” brain, one that doesn’t jump from slight cough to I think I have congestive heart failure to who was The Black Dahlia that photo of the torso in the grass to wow a bag of kettle chips sound good in 1.25 seconds. I’ve come to understand that that’s “just me being me.” The brain in my head is a creative model. Works beautifully at times, other times, left to its own, it’s gonna go rogue.

Maybe I need to do what novelist Jonathan Franzen has done – buy a cheap laptop and sabotage it, removing the wireless card and filling the Ethernet port with superglue.

Maybe I’ll get right on that after I change out laundry, check Facebook, and take another nap.


About Vicki Caroline Cheatwood

Writerly. Rebooting. Evolving. Searching for great chicken salad.
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4 Responses to Aside from that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

  1. Frances Peterson says:

    Your talent WILL NOT leave you. EVER.

  2. dehelen says:

    In my experience, Vicki, a writer’s muse never leaves her. No matter how hard we try to shove her out the door, how many times we turn our backs, she’s always there waiting. Try to make a little time for her. Maybe 1/2 that Scrabble time? xoxo hugs.

  3. laycegardner says:

    I love you. You need to write. Set aside fifteen minutes daily and do it. But you aren’t really listening to me, are you?

  4. Shannon Hamrick says:

    Vicki, I feel your grief. It’s palpable. And it becomes almost comforting, like a reliable friend. You know what life in grief and loss is. You’re questioning what life in grief, loss, and other feelings might be. Will thoughts and feelings carry you away? Maybe… but just temporarily. The irony is, it sounds like grief is carrying you away – from who you know yourself to be, from being you in all the wonderful – and challenging – ways that are you. Will you drown? No. You might feel like it’s possible for a split second, then you’ll draw on your inner self – and maybe on friends and family – and you’ll experience that all those thoughts and feelings that seem so terrifying are like waves on the beach. They will come up, and they may even be really big, then they will recede. And you’ll be you. Eating sand? Only if you choose to. That’s up to you. The fear of what’s next is far worse than the experience of it. And allowing yourself to experience it in no way takes away from your love for Mark, or how much you miss him. That is. It always will be. I pray that you are able to give yourself space to see what’s behind those walls and face that monster that your fear and grief has created. Sending my support… ~Shannon

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