Friday, April 29, 2011

And the bird saga continues...

Today, as Asher and I were heading out to meet Michael for lunch, a blue jay screeched and screeched in the wisteria vines above me. My heart went out to it--I figured it was keening for the baby bird that had died yesterday.

I picked up Michael at his office and we drove over to the Barn on campus to grab a bite before heading to the UCR library so I could do more research for my upcoming talk. I pulled the stroller out of the trunk and was about to drop the diaper bag into the basket in back when I noticed something my brain couldn't quite compute. At first I thought it was Asher's toy bird that chirps when you squeeze it, but it looked too detailed, not plush enough. Then I wondered if somehow the dead baby bird from yesterday had fallen into the stroller by accident as Michael was trying to dispose of it. I looked closer, though, and saw that the little gray body was breathing. A live baby bird in the stroller. The stroller I had left outside overnight, which I rarely ever do; the stroller I had nonchalantly folded up and tossed in the trunk without a second thought. That poor blue jay in the wisteria, watching me birdnap her baby--no wonder she was screeching!

I felt such a rush of emotions...fear, confusion, guilt, awe, giddiness, the promise of a second chance, all racing through my veins at once. I told Michael I felt as if I was living in a myth. "Because there's a bird in the stroller?" he asked, amused at my penchant to turn every little thing into Story. But yes, finding a living bird inside a stroller, a stroller that had been folded up in the trunk, no less, felt magical, somehow--certainly a much different, more hopeful, narrative than finding a dead bird on the driveway.

I'm afraid I am too exhausted to continue the saga tonight--I will let you know what happened next soon...

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Yesterday, a dead baby bird showed up on my driveway, likely a little blue jay. My heart sank at the sight of it--I wanted to see it as some sort of good omen, the way I did when a dead crow appeared on my patio just as I was ready to give up on writing The Book of Dead Birds, but it just made me sad. Probably because I have my own little baby, who has a bad cold, and the thought of any young life snuffed out rattles me deeply. But also probably because I feel so disconnected from my writing right now--I have so little time, so little energy, am so far behind on email, etc.; I am not sure I feel ready for or deserving of a good writing omen.

Still, little writing nudges are coming my way.

I have an author profile on Red Room, and every once in a while, the site invites authors to submit pieces to their affiliate sites at I sent along a piece I had written a while ago about my unexpected adventures as Annie Oakley in a community theater production of Annie Get Your Gun. Gina at Red Room liked the essay (the piece went live today; you can read it here) and told me an assignment had just come up--writing about Kate Middleton's last night of freedom. Would I like to take it on? At first I balked inside--I didn't have the time, didn't have any interest in the royal wedding--but then something in me said "Say yes." And I'm glad I did--it was a fun piece to write (you can read it here.) Beyond the enjoyment of it, though, it reminded me that I *can* find time to write, and if I can carve out time to write an 800 word piece on a subject that I never would have chosen on my own, I can certainly find time to write about subjects that are calling me.

And subjects have indeed been calling me. A novel, a YA novel, a memoir, all vying for my attention. And they're all starting to get louder. I just need to figure out which to focus on. I just need to get past my own resistance, my own fears about having lost my ability to write, my own fears of failure. I need to give my writing the time it deserves. Toward that end, I actually signed Asher up for two half days a week of daycare this month, but he's already gotten sick twice and is so miserable when I bring him there, I'm questioning whether to continue. Somehow, though, I need to find a time other than late at night, when I'm half asleep, to put some words on a page (if you could see me right now, you'd know I am slumped against a headboard in the guest room, my eyes barely open).

I'm currently working on a talk about mothering, fiction writing and compassion for a Motherhood and Activism conference in Toronto next month, and in my research about mother novelists am finding that there were very few before the 1960s, at least ones who were published. For so long, women were told they could have either books or babies, not both. When my older kids were little, I somehow had no problem finding moments to write, but this go around, I'm having a much harder time with the balance. I am finding myself enraged by the historical silencing of mothers, and don't want to follow that tradition by silencing myself. So that is giving me motivation to write. A recent visit with a very lovely and enthusiastic book club to discuss Delta Girls put some writerly fire back in my belly, as well.

Also, I'm going to be a guest on Cassie Premio Steele's Co-Creating Show Friday, May 6. I want to get some good writing done before then so I won't feel like a hypocrite talking about creativity!

And another thing that's helping me along...friends. My amazing friend Laraine recently sent a very loving kick in the pants via email, and a dear friend, Kari Pope, sent me a series of Fruitflesh Meditations she has written as part of her own creative process. What a treat to see my own form written in someone else's hand, mirrored back at me to offer the same inspiration that I had hoped to offer others. I want to share one here:

I always enjoy waiting for a banana’s voice to change. Green at the tips, its song is not quite ready, but when the peel starts to freckle you may release it to sing its sweet perfume into the world.

The banana helps me remember that there is such a thing as being ready to write. Whether you achieve this preparedness through a writing ritual, through finding distance from your subject, or through hitting upon a pocket of time, space, thought, or emotion in which to write, you can and will be prepared to bring forth your own song. It’s a natural ripening, not to be rushed or undercut. You will find it, or it will find you. You will be ready.
Thanks so much, Kari. I think I'm almost ripe.