Thursday, February 28, 2008


Today I sat in my cafe window seat and counted clouds of birds. The fixation I have with their pinwheeling forms reminds me of about this time last year, when I noticed how the undulating flight revealed my novel characters to me...and the title of my manuscript was chosen, Migration Summer. I have finished this book now and feel a little adrift. It hasn't been sold yet and I am in flux, editing pages quietly and waiting for the work still ahead. This morning, it struck me how profoundly I am in migration myself...out of one life into another.

The all-consuming novel process is ebbing away a bit...for several years, this book has resided in my head, every experience or burst of color in my life serving as inspiration for my characters. I think of a quote from my teacher that nails it, "I tell my students, "If you know someone who's writing a novel, take them out for lunch. If they've finished one, even if it never gets published, it's a great feat and a huge sustained effort. Bring them flowers." My students laugh. I say I'm not kidding." When I first read this, I wasn't even writing a novel and I certainly didn't want to hear that! We all want to think of the creative process as liberating and fun and messy--and it certainly can be, but sometimes it is (oh my!) w-o-r-k. I learned that halfway through the first (of three) rewrites of my manuscript. Was it interesting? Absolutely fascinating. Was it exciting? My heart pounded whenever a phrase or scene "landed" fully as it should. Was it hard? SO hard I cannot even say. Anything else to know? Yes, I cannot wait to do it all over again with the next one.

Not only is my creative life evolving, but so is nearly every other facet of who I am. My older daughter now tops 5'2'' tall and the experience of *almost* having your child look you in the eye after the rounds of nursing and swaddling and fevered brows...after preschool and endless stacks of stories read and crayon self-portraits with sloppy multi-limbed squiggles becoming detailed drawings--this process, though anticipated, is surreal. Adolescence is here and it is every bit as stunning to witness as a mother as it was to experience as a girl. Then, of course, my youngest "baby" will be boarding a big yellow bus in the fall and vanishing into the world of elementary school with her brother while the eldest hits junior high. If things go according to plan, I will be teaching high school full-time and leaving the "full-time-motherhood/part-time instructor" gigs behind me. After all of these years, I am ready, but it is still a dramatic shift. My personal life is also completely different from what I ever guessed it would be...the only constant being *change*. The image arising for me again and again is of seeds rooting deeply in the fertile heat of my body...I cannot see, but rather feel them, just beneath my skin. I am gestating my own future--preparing for the inevitable flowering.

Finally, after a random drawing of names (by my son) Felicia Sullivan's riveting memoir of growth and evolution will be making its way to this inspiring blogger's place...and over on another friend's blog I saw a post inspired by this book and decided to write one of my own. What an amazing exercise--though I decided to use words to describe not my entire life experience, but where I see myself at this very moment...

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