Wednesday, July 29, 2009

WHEN THE MUSE AND THE EMPTY NEST COLLIDE


When I decided to do this blog, I contemplated what it would be about. I mean, it has to have some kind of focus, right? Had I started it a few years ago, the focus would have been my kids, my family and BTW, my writing. Not that writing wasn't important in my life then. It has been years since I sold my first book-- a romance novel for Zebra/Kensington.

When I began seriously writing, my daughter and son were little. So I put my desk in my living room, near the front window, where I could be part of things. Where I could see my kids as they ran in and out and, when on a horrid book deadline, give them a hug, or stop to talk about their days. I wasn't the kind of mom who said, "Don't bother me unless there's blood!" Because, frankly, blood makes me queasy and I always figured it was prudent to intervene before things got that far.

But back then, I knew who I was. I was a mom. My real job was to make sure my kids survived childhood. (Seriously.) And to make sure they were happy. Amazingly enough, they did grow up to be wonderful adults who are now off and running in their own lives. My son is following his dream in the film industry and my daughter and her darling husband just had a baby--our first grandchild! The little Boo. (see above)

Okay, now I'm totally distracted by the deliciousness in this picture....Sorry.

After my kids grew up, went off to college, there was this....long pause in my life. Those of you who've been through this know what I'm talking about: It was kind of a "Now, what?" moment. Or...a "What the hell?"moment. Okay, fine. It was a full-on identity crisis. Which was ironic, really, since I'd always thought my book writing would save me from that. I thought I'd know who I was because I had this whole writing career thing going... I'd breeze through, buck up and write. All would be well.

Could I have been more wrong? I don't think so.

My writing life skidded to a screeching halt. Not a word found its way to the computer screen. The blinking cursor mocked me. Repeatedly. I thought I'd give it some space. Allow myself to be in my empty-nestedness for a bit. Then I'd be okay. But the longer I went without writing, the harder it was to get back to it. I feared I'd never write again. This went on for a couple of years. My husband gave me foot-rubs and told me it would all be all right. (Did I mention that I love my husband?) But I still grappled with dark questions like: WHO AM I? And WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT, ALFI?

Then, in the grandest of ironies, writing saved me. Lifted me right up and cradled me against its bosom. Angels sang and clouds parted and my muse stepped right up and--

What? Oh, right. My muse has asked me to inform you that none of that is true. No bosom cradling was involved. A couple of shin kicks, a shiner, as I recall. Some other injuries I won't go into here. But the part about writing saving me is true. But it didn't happen without serious determination on my part. Some call being stuck like this writer's block. I don't really like that term. I think it's life-block, because if I'm so stuck I can't write, there are definitely other reasons why. It's not about the writing.

Did I mention I teach writing? No? The only reason I mention it is that I get to see from a completely different perspective why people stop writing or doing any creative thing they love. And believe me when I say, it's not because the muse stops talking. It's for other reasons. Reasons that are important to address and work through. Ignoring them simply aggravates them. So, deep down I knew this. I knew I had to take action before the whole thing got away from me and I slid down that slippery slope I'd seen so many of my students take who'd given up on themselves completely. And despite the old adage, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach," I wasn't finished with writing yet. Besides, what good would I be as a teacher if I couldn't walk the walk, talk the talk...write the books?

(to be continued...)

Be good to yourself-- Barbara

20 comments:

Sarah said...

Whoo hoo - you Let Fly girl and I loved it!!! Wow!! I love the voice you offer..strong and true and from the heart!! Welcome to blogging dear sis!! I am over the moon that you have joined me here!!
Let Little Boo (OMG that is cute) know that his Great Auntie Sarah loves him too!!
Huge hugs and love, Sarah

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Well - I do enjoy your sister Sarah's blog and how could I resist her enthusiasm about you. Good luck with this new "blog" enterprise - did Sarah warn you that it is addictive?

Like what I see here and I will be back!

challee said...

Yay Mom! Love the new blog! Good work getting it up!I hope you enjoy yourself on here:)I will xoxo Chall

Heart of a Cowgirl said...

Welcome Barbara! I now officially (?) know the 3 sisters...at least from their blogs. Have fun!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Hi Barbara -- I really enjoyed your first post and am looking forward to more. I'm glad your sister Sarah told us about your new blog.

Snap said...

Welcome to Bloglandia, Barbara. I'm a follower of Sarah and had to come by and say Hi! Looking forward to getting to know you better. Have fun and yes, it is addicting!

Holly said...

B:
I'm one of Sarah's pals. She laughs because I'm the other writing Nazi in her life...but between us, she admits you're even the bigger shadow who keeps her on track.

Welcome to the fold. I'm positive you will add much to the world we now occupy. It's odd. Creative. Stressing. Profound. Wow, a bit like real life, huh?

Dawn (dandy) said...

Oooh, I already want more. How do you do that on your first post?

Can't wait to get to know you!

Renee said...

Welcome to this world of friends. I think of both of your sisters as my friends.

Renee xoxo

Tabitha@ichoosebliss said...

Nice to meet you Barbara! Your sister Sarah is awesome! I deeply look forward to reading your words often. Already I am craving more!

clairedulalune said...

Hello, your sister was pimping you out, so naturally, I had to come over. Can I stay? Pleased to meet you Barbara!

A Scattering said...

Found you via Sarah's blog - welcome to the blogging universe! I haven't read a Harlequin title in years but I'll have to see if I can find your title here in Canada.

Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Welcome to the blogging world! I am one of Sarah's regulars so I can tell you, you are now one my list (that is a good thing ;-) You are so right about deep hidden thoughts and problems that seem to block our every move to be creative and productive. Will tune in for more!!

BTW, I am a horrible speller...just want you to be warned!

A Palmer said...

Barb, welcome to blogland! We're so glad you joined this interesting very cool world of people all over the planet who are engaged in soo many fascinating things. You'll love it. Sarah and I have have some awesome/beautiful followers and you will, too. I am going to pimp you later this weekend as soon as I get back from our mother-daughter weekend. Your big sis, Anne

Renee said...

Thank you so much Barb. I appreciate your prayers very much.

You are beautiful just like your other sisters. I have to admit, I'm crazy about Sarah and feel I know a little bit already of you and Anne. You all sound amazing.

Love Renee xoxo

Izzy 'N Emmy said...

Welcome and hello! Sounds like this blog is going to become a favorite! I look forward to hearing more about your work and so much more!

Barbara said...

Thanks to all of you who stopped by to welcome me! I'm so excited to get to know you and to share you with my sister, Sarah, who so generously pimped me! :p) Thanks, sis.

Sarah said...

Giggle Snort..any time....

Kathryn Magendie said...

Visiting from your sister's place *smiling*

gawd, I didn't write for over 20 years (or very very little and very few saw much of it other than a couple of pitiful poems and essays)....once I was able to begin again, well, I can't imagine ever going that long without what I love to do. Didn't even publish my first book until this year, at 52.

Good luck to your writing life, new grandbaby life (I have my first grandchild coming in October!), and other happy things!

stregata said...

Welcome in Blogland, Barbara. I too, have travelled here via Sarah's blog. I look forward to hearing more about you.