Category Archives: Writing

Must I write?

A few weeks ago, as I was walking down the hallway at the community college where I’m currently teaching two nights a week, I was distracted by some bold words I noticed hanging on the wall. The words were part of a quote that had been taped to the office door of an English professor.

I stopped to read the quote because I was compelled to answer the question I saw posted there:

“Ask yourself in the most silent hours of your night: Must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple I must, then build your life in accordance with this necessity.”
—Rainer Maria Rilke

It seemed to me that the sign had been posted there for my eyes and my eyes alone. Yes, I must write, I answered confidently. Urgently.

Yet—it’s been many, many months since I’ve enjoyed a regular writing routine. Busy life has made it so most days I feel mentally unable to give anything to my creative endeavors, yet totally capable of binge watching hours and hours of Netflix series. I can see now my priorities have been misplaced.

So, in an effort to restore some balance, this post is a baby step in building my life in accordance with the necessity that I must write.

 

 

 

A case of the Mondays.

I’m lying in bed right now fighting to stay awake when my eyes just want to close. This is why I don’t write every day. It simply cannot be forced.

So here are some random pictures instead, acting as a permanent placeholder for some quality writing.

Frances sneaking a peak across the driveway to where her brother was climbing the stairs to the house solo. Uh-oh!

The week of the stomach bug when everyone wore pajamas 24/7 and watched about fifty-six hours of TV.

The kids showing of their voting day stickers.

A photo from two weeks ago. We had a beautiful week of weather before all this rain. The sun felt so warm, we just HAD to lie down on the sand and soak it up!

Three bugs watching the tube.

Our little author/illustrator is busy at work.

It seems like our eldest child might have a better chance of publishing her work than her wannabe-a-writer mother. At least, given the shear amount of material she creates week to week.

Nora started making books this fall at her school in Pennsylvania. Things really kicked into gear, though, once we moved to Connecticut. To date, she’s made something like twenty-one books, only one of which is actually complete, mind you. Most consist of a title page and maybe two to three pages of drawing with text.

In the beginning, she required a lot of help with spelling. Recently, she’s been trying to manage on her own. I love discovering her latest creations and admiring all the effort she puts into her craft.

DSC_0701

A season’t worth of books crafted from folded 8-and-1/2-by-11-inch paper and staples.


DSC_0684

“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Ellie and the Doghouse” with strikingly similar characters and settings. Note the legless child on the left. Not sure what her deal is.


DSC_0685

“Appleland,” the prequel to the lesser-known “Fairyland.” Incidentally, it should be known that there was no mention nor drawing of actual apples in the book “Appleland.”


DSC_0689

This one is a little harder to interpret: “That next morning, Emily and her best (friend?) Lizzy went in the car. They went to…” Where did they go? Read on to find out!


DSC_0692

“That night (she must’ve gotten help with those two words!) they went to Grandma and Pappy’s and Grandma’s and Grandpa’s…” “Hooo Choo.” Are they owls? On a train? I don’t know.


DSC_0695

Love the imagination and detail here with the view of the back side of the people. Also love that the characters on the right page are sitting in pews at church!


DSC_0686

“Where is My Halloween Basket?” Lately we’ve been making flip-books modeled after some of our lift-the-flap favorites. These are a total pain to make, because instead of just folding and stapling paper, I have to tape together every couple of pages and then cut out little squares behind which Nora draws hidden images. the end result is worth it though. And why in the HELL are that guy’s legs so damn long?!

 

DSC_0687

“Is it under the bed?”


DSC_0688

“No.” Haha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSC_0703

Of course, never to be outdone, Frances has also mastered the art of book-making. Although she lacks the skills needed to write her stories, she’s never short on words to explain all of the images on her pages. According to her, the books above are about “Our Family,” “Farm Animals,” and “The Playground With Some Little Ducks Over There.”

DSC_0699

Lastly, I just had to capture this birthday card while I was recording images of the books. It’s from Nora, given to me a couple of weeks ago. “Now you [are] 37, but soon you’re going to be 38.” Thanks for the notice, girlie. 

I like to think that I will keep some of these to show Nora when she’s a bit older. Not insta-throw them away like I do much of the art work that gets made around here. I’m trying to be better about photographing the pieces I like best. My plan is to preserve the images in some kind of keepsake book, so we don’t have to hang on to the actual physical clutter. But these books are pretty special. So, I’m thinking we’ll save a few for posterity. And, if not—if some get lost or accidentally thrown away in a fit of clutter-rage—at least we’ll have this post of evidence of the work that was done.

 

 

 

A post a day in May?

Sounds catchy, right? So let’s try it. What have I got to lose? Even if I don’t make the every day goal, my renewed effort has got to result in something far better than one lousy post in all of April. 

And, since I’ve boldly gone and put it out here, I’ll now have to be accountable. Oh, the pressure! I can’t promise what I have to say will be anything of value, but the writing practice is slipping big time, and that makes me feel sad. Not my best self.

So, stay tuned for more in the coming days!

P.S. I’d give more of an effort tonight, but we’ve just returned from a weekend in Woodstock, NY visiting family. And, I’ve got a just-turned three-year-old asleep on my belly. It’s time to close my eyes, rest my travel-weary self, listen to the rhythmic breathing of a peaceful—finally!—child, and count my blessings.

One year. And four days later.

The blog just celebrated an anniversary. Wahoo! And, it even has a proper address now. Instead of living at the free wordpress.com site, it now resides happily—for just $18/year—at http://www.restlessroost.com. You’ll find the old address still works too.

On January 1st, the people at WordPress sent me some interesting stats from the past year. Included in the report was the below graphic, which I thought was pretty interesting. And humorous, if not at the same time depressing.

Screen shot 2016-01-05 at 6.39.04 PM

It’s sort of like a pictorial insight into the craziness of our lives, and specifically, the frenzied state of my mind. Last January, I posted every day for thirty-one days. In February, I missed just one day (gotta love that resolution time of year!). Even March was impressive. Of course, there were just two children then. And the hubs came home for supper; his work had yet to crank up into crazy overtime.

Then, in early April, the baby came home. I still enjoyed some leisurely writing, it seems, up until about July and August. That would have been the peak of planting season and Liam’s hours at the co-op. September brought with it the reality of back-to-work. Poor October. Poor, poor October. The month of working and packing and moving. November and December haven’t fared much better, I’m afraid.

And January 2016? Well, that remains to be seen, I guess. I’m hopeful the blog will continue. I’m also hopeful that I’ll pick up a rhythm once again. We are mostly settled into our home and Connecticut routine. However, our days these days are so full, and so noisy, I find it hard to find the time and the quiet within which to think about writing. I only think about and stress about how I’m not writing.

So here’s to a new year. And new inspiration. To being kind to myself. To writing when I can. And being OK about it all when I can’t .

And to you out there reading—thanks for being along for the ride!

Keeping priorities straight: It’s not an easy thing for me to do.

When I started the ‘Roost’ back in January, the purpose of the blog was to create a space for intentional ‘daily’ writing practice. And also, maybe, along the way, to record some anecdotes for the good old family memory book.

The blog got off to a well enough start, but creativity and productivity have stalled somewhat in recent months. I guess that’s to be expected, given we have a new baby in the house. There’s really not a lot of free time during which I can just run off to the local coffee shop to sit and stew with my thoughts each day, typing away at the keys. What with swim lessons, and nursing sessions, and inconsistent nap schedules—and—have I mentioned I’m now a mother of five two-to-three days a week, since I’ve agreed to help my sister by caring for her two kids this summer? (They are actually quite pleasant and helpful, so, so far, it’s been a pretty nice arrangement).

I’m a person who thrives—creatively—only when she has time to herself. Moments of quiet in which to daydream, or simply, process. The moments don’t need to be very long, but they do need to happen. Otherwise, I get cranky. I feel stale and overwhelmed. Defeated. Which is how I feel now.

I find it terribly disappointing when 8:30 p.m. rolls around on any given day when I haven’t written, or at least thought of something to write for the blog. Because by that time, if it hasn’t gotten done, it’s just not going to happen. Sleep is way more necessary than writing is important right now.

The truth is, I probably do have time each day to write. I just don’t make it my top priority. I choose to spend my time doing other things instead, hoping I’ll be able to write later. Always later. How is it that the things that quite possibly nourish and fulfill us the most—in my case writing and exercise and meaningful time spent with my kids—get pushed to the side in lieu of other, less important, but still urgent-seeming tasks nonetheless?

It’s like I have this mental checklist of things I need to accomplish before I do the things that I find pleasurable. 

Take a walk with the kids in the morning to get fresh air and much needed endorphins to start the day? Nope, gotta start in on the growing laundry pile. Play house with the kids, or make art at the table? Not yet. Kitchen’s a mess. Gotta clean it up. Get out the computer and write while the kids nap? Or, better yet, take a nap myself? Are you kidding? That’s the only time I have to tidy up the place and run the vacuum across the floor.

Liam has always tried to help me see straight. “Sit down and rest. Does that [insert meaningless chore] really need to be done right now?” Of course it doesn’t. Don’t people always advise: The vacuuming can wait. Right? It will always be there.

That’s the problem! It will always be there! So, it needs to be taken care of! Immediately! Every time! 

For only when the floors are clean, the dishes put away, the laundry folded and stashed in dresser drawers, can I permit myself the space within which to write and create, go on walks, to sit down and breathe.

Pretty effed up, huh? This is the way I work. The way I rationalize and compartmentalize. It’s compulsive, I know. So, as life with three little ones is extremely messy and loud, and relatively inescapable, you can understand why it’s been awhile since I’ve written, and why the posts have been infrequent. I’m trying to work on the priority thing.

I’ve started setting the laptop on the table in the mornings as a gentle reminder that I should sit and write whenever I have the opportunity. And, I’ve been trying to carve out some time to play with the girls a bit each day, to let loose and just have fun with them both. And, to talk to, make smiley faces at, or simply stare at the baby (he’s getting so big!). I even let myself give in to reading a nearly 500-page John Grisham paperback this past weekend. It’s pretty much all I did from evening Friday until I finished it on Sunday afternoon, thanks to the hubs for picking up some major parenting slack.

I do know how to relax, you know. It’s just that I have to do about thirty-seven things first, before I’ll let myself cave. I’m working on reducing that number substantially, or simply being able to say to the girls, “You want to have a tea party for the next five hours straight? You got it! But what about that mess in the living room? Oh, don’t worry about that, sweeties. In fact, fuck it all! Who’s pouring first?”

Well, minus the whole ‘fuck it all’ part. I imagine that part I’ll say in my head. You get the point, though.

Day Ten: The blog goes live!

If you’re just landing here for the first time…welcome! You may want to read about Restless Roost or go back to the beginning to read the posts in sequential order to get an idea of the purpose of this blog. Or, you could start here and go in reverse. Orwell…I could simply step back, try not to be my usual controlling self, and just let you figure it out for yourself.

I made it to Day Ten. I found pockets of time each day to sit alone with my thoughts and write. It was not easy. In fact, it was much more challenging than I thought, especially after I returned to work after the holiday break. Instead of having a whole day full of leisure, I had a window of about four hours in which to write before bed (that’s assuming bedtime is before 9, a reality for me these days). Those four hours also included time for making and eating dinner, visiting with the girls and Liam, giving baths and snuggles, blowing lots of noses, and reading bedtime stories.

I’m glad I stuck with it; there were a couple of nights when I didn’t think I’d be able to pull it off. That being said, I am still going to try to write and post daily. However, based on my experience this past week, I know that it is not likely to be a reality over the course of the year, given a baby is set to arrive on the scene in under three months’ time. I had to sacrifice too much time with the girls and Liam when we already have a limited amount of time together during the week. The blog may end up becoming a weekend only blog, or a three or four-posts-a-week blog. (I just read about how stockpiling posts on the weekends can help ease the pressure of writing everyday, so that might be a possibility).

For now, I’ll just take it one day at a time and see how it goes. And I’m OK with that. Hear that, husband? As usual, I was, you were right.