Hiatus, Lacuna, a Break

“Egg Shell” by Petr Kratochvil

My first blog title was “This Messy Life,” an acknowledgement of — and tribute to — small grace inside a tumbled day. Life hasn’t let me down.

In the last three-plus years, I’ve strung words through everyday disruptions — car repairs and children’s colds, wild pets and homeschool hills and self-replicating laundry piles. Sometimes, rejection letters came in triplicate, or worse, but there were always bright rays of acceptance too, in all its varied forms. Foster kittens came and went (and climbed and clawed), until the last three stayed for good. A bad concussion stole a year. Through it all, the dog stole socks. He’s good at that, and merry.

Ups and downs. This messy life. It’s what we all go through, between, around and over.

Sometimes, it gets harder.

hiatus: a break, a gap, an interruption or suspension

I haven’t written in awhile. I’m not inventing tales or stitching up the seams of essays. I’ve got no wayward characters in my head. No voices, lilting.

lacuna: a pit, an empty place, something unfilled or blank or missing

In a true bit (or bite) of irony, just after publishing an essay on how I learned to manage motherhood and writing, the motherhood got more intense, demanding. Right now, my daughters need more Mom — more in scope and time, more in challenge and inventiveness. There isn’t any me left over for the spill and catch of words.

break (noun): an interlude or intermission, a hitch or lapse, an open space or breach

break (verb): to fracture, fragment, impair or injure; to hesitate or interrupt — but also to change, decrypt, decipher, as with codes — and then there’s the breaking of a dawn, engendered.

On my worst days, I wonder why I ever started writing, if it just ends up like this. On my better days, I try to be less black-or-white, less absolute, less humorless and bleak. My latest piece for Hippocampus touches on the struggle, the ebb and flow of writing:

 “For a myriad of reasons, sometimes we are writers on the other side of words. We are mired in low tides, gasping. . . . for all the years I’ve tried, there is no perfect balance, no deft juggling move that leaves me mistress of all realms. Instead, I dog-paddle through a shifting mercury of roles. Sometimes, I have to put the pen aside. This is never easy, never smooth.”

I hope you’ll join me there for the rest of my essay on writing tides and lessons learned from seabirds. As for this space, it may be quiet for awhile. In hiatus, a lacuna, a break and somewhat broken, in every varied sense.


“Curses” on Mamapedia

“Not Hear, Not See, Not Speak” by George Hodan

“On my mental list of bad-mom moments, teaching my two-year old to swear is right up near the top.”

Yes, that’s right. I taught my kids to swear — unintentionally, of course. If you want to see what happens next — and how I took a mess from bad to worse — join me at Mamapedia’s “Voices” for the rest of the essay.

Mamapedia is an on-line community of moms, a collective of shared wisdom. Linking moms at all stages of their parenting adventures, the site provides articles, advice, questions and answers, and even some sweet family deals.

I hope you’ll click on over to read the rest of my essay, “Curses” — and bring a cup of coffee. You’ll want to stay awhile.


Best Books Giveaway 2012

Cotoneaster In Winter by Petr Kratochvil

Last January, I decided to follow Nina Badzin in a challenge to read 50 books in 2012. Two weeks later, my head hit the ice and bounced back with a serious concussion.

I couldn’t read for months. Big snafu in the 50 book challenge.

Now, there’s a thin line between persistence and being stubborn. Ask my husband. Unwilling to face recovery without a pocketful of books, I subscribed to audible.com, closed my eyes, and reveled in the sound of stories.

I met my goal of 50 books. Each one felt like a little victory, a push-back against blurry vision and my fuzzy brain.

My head is mostly back to normal now, just in time for a season of new ice. This year I have Yaktrax. And it’s time to celebrate.

My favorite books in 2012 were the ones that left an imprint on my muddled mind —  a scene, a voice, an image that endures . . . .The magical realism of Mark Helprin’s New York in Winter’s Tale . . . . A nunnery that trains the daughters of Death to be political assassins in Robin LaFever’s Grave Mercy . . . . The broad imagination and miniature fabulations in Steven Millhauser’s The Knife Thrower and Other Stories . . . . Cheryl Strayed’s fierce determination (I recognize the stubborn in other folks as well) in Wild . . . . Lyric grief and breathless hope, along with a most-memorable dog, in Carolyn Parkhurst’s The Dogs of Babel . . . . The living fabric of a drowned community, run parallel to a painter’s quest in Maryanne O’Hara’s Cascade . . . . Whimsy and remorse, filtered through an almost-fairytale in The Unlikey Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce . . . . Writing tips that galvanized and transformed my revisions, in Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story . . . . A half-breed eiree, a dragon’s spine, and a world suffused with magic, dark and light, in Rabia Gale’s Rainbird.

To celebrate the stories that I read — and the fact that I could read them — I’m giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. Enter below with the PunchTab form. Just sign in through email or Facebook and follow the links. Contest ends 1/15/13 at 11 pm.

Here’s to a new year of solid footing — and stories given wings.

P.S. In 2013, I’ll indulge my new love of Goodreads and keep track of all my reading there. Come see!

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

“Face The Monster” by Frits Ahlefeldt

I love a writer who makes me laugh at myself. That’s not (quite) as perverse as it sounds. With days full of homeschooling and story crafting, I spend long hours in my head. Sometimes, it’s scary up there. That’s when I rely on talented writers like Yuvi Zalkow to pull me out of my mental mayhem. A good dose of self-mockery, Yuvi-style, can be a clear, fast ticket out of Crazy Ville.

Yuvi is a short story writer, inventor of “I’m a Failed Writer” videos, Writer Unboxed contributor, and the author of a brilliant novel in the works, just released this week. He’s got a string of readings scheduled to promote his book, but there’s a hitch — he’s terrified of public speaking. So when he invited other bloggers to join him in “The (semi-) Great Fear & Failure Experiment of 2012”, how could I refuse?

Fear and failure? That’s where I live, Yuvi. Welcome to the broke-down neighborhood of my brain . . . Continue reading

Two Seconds

clock in the city, time running out, tick tock

“Time Is Ticking,” by Petr Kratochvil

If my daughter had been two seconds faster, she would have been hit by the car. She was running, the hedge blocked her from the driver’s view, and the car was going too fast, cutting a gap between parking lots.

Two seconds.

Two heartbeats.

My breath must have stopped, stopped and hung suspended, leaving pieces of me there inside that frozen moment. Now I return, again and again, to the same almost-image. The car, the hedge, my daughter. It’s a stillpoint emblazoned with viceral, burning clarity. It shocks me out of sleep.

Two seconds. Two seconds can be a not-much, forgotten and discarded. Two seconds can be an everything. Continue reading