A couple of late nights/ early mornings ago, I tended to a very unhappy Daniel (teething pain woke him up at 3am, and he cried himself to full-blown awake-but-miserable instead of settling back down). After changing his diaper and rocking him back to sleep, I couldn’t get back to sleep myself until well after 4am.
In that hazy, not-asleep-but-not awake interlude, my mind lazily wandered to its mental To-Do list: work things, Daniel things, financial management things, family things… and it skipped to wondering if my biological mother was even alive and whether she missed me or not if she were… which slipped into thinking about my writing… which stopped to my last attempt to write a novel.
And that was when it hit me: that I had no desire to write a novel or to even craft a short story these days. Maybe all of that teaching and reading did it (after all, I end up grading 500+ essays every semester). That’s a lot of compositions to go through with a fine tooth comb.
But I don’t think that’s it.
Something happened in me that finally shut down that little girl who wrote about worlds to escape in. For what that past-4am epiphany was realizing this: every piece of fiction that I wrote was a way for me to escape from the Real World, to cover up and not deal with the messiness and sometimes just pure hell that the Real World throws at every person who lives.
Oh, sometimes that escape was silly and simple, like what I wrote when I was ten, all the way up through college. Sometimes that escape was angsty, emo-ladened dreck. Sometimes that escape was an amateurish pastiche of my favorite authors at the time. Sometimes it was what my MA thesis advisor called “Fact/ion” — that is, a fictional memoir (which was what my MA thesis was that I hadn’t meant to write).
All of them to escape into another world of my making, a form of “let’s pretend” that I enjoyed doing ever since I was a little kid because, well, my childhood was a roller-coaster of wonderfulness, with a handful of shittyness thrown in there that made me face things that no child should ever have to face.
But I haven’t been doing any of that — even just brainstorming in my head “let’s pretend” little worlds — since I discovered I was going to be a mother. And what does that mean? That these attempts at these worlds were just substitutes for children and now that I have one, I no longer need to create fiction? That the Real World is so much more pressing and more demanding than the fictional worlds that I have crafted but have yet to develop, that my now-frazzled mind can’t handle anything more creative than another PowerPoint slide or a more palatable toddler meal?
I have no answer. All I know is that after I self-published Rowena’s World: Poems and Short Stories on Lulu.com, I’ve been feeling as if something had finally come to a close. “That’s done.” When I threw away all of those notes and half-finished stories and novels (including electronic files) over Christmas break, it actually felt like ballast had finally been let go.
Actually, I discovered one thing that survived the figurative fire: my poor, aborted novel An Island in the Moon. There’s something good in there, but what it is and where it’s going, I haven’t the energy anymore to see it be born. But I can’t seem to throw it away because, well, there IS something good there.
So I’ll just post it on this blog in a page. And if anyone has writer’s block and wants to take it and run with it, be my guest.
Really. Go ahead. It’s my gift to you. And if you can make it work and get it published, wouldn’t that just be so cool?
Anyways, time for me to get to bed. Daniel wakes up around 6am, no matter what. And this ex-short story writer needs her sleep.