I finally have the time to write. I’ve been sitting here at Starbucks, after dropping off L at daycare, sipping my Caramel Macchiato, and listening to the arrangement of 80’s and 90’s hip hop that’s reverberating from the two speakers. I had told myself that today was my day to write; instead, though, I’ve been arranging my online classes, replying to emails, grading the first few essays: in other words, doing anything but creative work. I feel somewhat useless, actually. I don’t know where to start, or how or why. What’s the purpose?
Then I remember – the purpose. To write. Just to get this crazy, mixed-up world out in writing so that I can make sense of it, and of myself. So I don’t wallow in grief when the news of a child found murdered or molested comes. So I don’t succumb to the nasty switch of PMS. So I can speak out, even if my audience is a corner of nowhere, a back-lit screen, or a lined paper. I don’t care. I have things to say, even if I’m not sure what those things are.
I think things happen for a reason (cliche, yes, I know). I wasn’t meant to get into the MFA program. It’s been hard enough combining motherhood with work and writing. I’m not there yet. I don’t have the leisure many MFA students have. I can’t just pick up and form a part of this secret society where only those who belong can become successful novelists, essayists, poets, etc. I am a mom, wife, daughter, teacher. I have multiple responsibilities, and while I need to write, and I need a good writer’s group to help me improve, I am limited right now. This is just a reality I need to come to terms with, and as I do, I will be much healthier.
So in the meantime, I’m reading and, yes, writing, too; only I’m writing without pressure. No deadlines, no stress. I’m just writing. I do want to submit a few things, but we’ll see how that goes. I don’t know how much I actually want to do. I am also looking at possibilities of online writing courses. UCLA Writer’s Extension seems to have a fabulous certificate program and the best part is that it’s online! It’s help. Another thing I’m considering is forming an online critique group of writers who are facing the same constraints I am. And I’m writing about being a mother to an energetic almost-three-year-old who swears he can do everything himself. I see the same defiance and yearning for independence in him that I have. And I love it.
So for now, I sit here at Starbucks and, in between writing, I watch people and, unwillingly eavesdrop. The three Census workers have left. They were loud, but their conversation interested me. Somewhere in this insane county, some lady snatched the paperwork from a Census worker, slammed the door shut, only to later reopen it and throw it, crumpled, back at them. They were instructed by the boss man -a fifty-something-year-old man, balding save some peaks of white strands- to call the police immediately should something like that happen. This same man was here yesterday with two women, Colombian – I conversed briefly with them when I heard the beloved singing of the Paisa accent. I’m now assuming they were Census workers, too.
But they’ve left. Starbucks is empty. Only the employees, counting change, and I, half-hidden in my corner below the speaker, are here.