When I was younger, I wasn’t convinced of the benefits of travel at all. By the time I got used to being in a certain place, my family would have to move again, and I would be forced to give up the friendships I had formed. That didn’t count all of the times we went to see relatives during the holidays. While elements of the trips were fun, for the most part, I remember being stressed and unhappy and wanting to get back home as soon as possible.
By the time I was fifteen, we had lived in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Florida, and South Carolina. I remember being vividly unhappy about being told we were going to move to Ohio after my freshman year of high school. We had lived in South Carolina for five years, and I didn’t want to go. But, I was fifteen so I went. The following year brought another move from Ohio to California. I stayed there for my final two years of high school. I did see a lot of interesting things along the way which I would be grateful for much later, but I didn’t find any roots. Why should I? I knew I wouldn’t want to stay in California. I wanted to go back to South Carolina to go to college which I did.
The college years passed quickly, and I soon began my working career. I enjoyed going to other places to visit people, but I was just as happy being at home and sometimes even more happy. I met my now-husband a few years later, and our children were born a few years after that. We had almost been married nine years when it became clear we would have to leave the city where everything started. Out of necessity, my husband had found work in another city. It was so hard, but I had been prepared for a transient lifestyle through my experiences as a child.
We moved to another city in South Carolina which we left two years later for the big move of our marriage. My husband had been promoted and was being given the opportunity to move to Michigan. We talked a lot about that one. It would be his first time living outside of the southern United States. The winter weather was not something we looked forward to, but we wanted to let our sons have the opportunity to see a different part of the country. It worked out wonderfully. We got to see things we had never seen before, and we had travel opportunities we would never have had otherwise. We also began homeschooling while we lived there.
I was starting to see the benefits of a traveling lifestyle, but was also feeling a yearning in my heart for something more permanent. Four years later, we left Michigan because my mother-in-law had become ill. We went back to South Carolina to help her and ended up losing her two months later. It was one of the hardest times of our lives. Luckily, we had moved back to our home state where we still had friends. We were able to move back to our old city two months after my mother-in-law died. Our sons were old enough at this point that we were hoping we would be staying put in one place.
It wasn’t to be though. My husband’s health issues made their presence known again which affected his employment. We had been back in our home city for only two years, and I hated having to leave again. Though I had regained contact with some of my college friends through Facebook, it was not the same as having lifelong friends who you knew you could count on. In fact, I can count the number of those I have on one hand.
We ended up in Alabama, and this September will be seven years since we’ve moved here. I was able to give my children the gift I never had. They both spent their high school years in one place. They’ve made good friends and have the stability that I always longed for. My older son is in college now and doing well. We travel to see him frequently. The younger one will graduate from high school in May and move on to the next phase of his life. I hope the combination of traveling and stability will give them both a good start in the adult world and even though they don’t have roots in the traditional sense, I hope they will know we we love them very much and always had their best interests in mind as they grew up in our family.
Hope everyone has a great day!
Over the past few years, I have tried to vary my reading so I could get maximum exposure to all the different kinds of writing genres and styles that were out there. I’ve read such things as military science fiction, romance, mysteries, fantasy, young adult fiction, middle grade fiction, books about the craft of writing, and Christian books. These all have given me a wide exposure and a boost to my creativity which has helped my own writing.
I had never thought though of the different kinds of language used in writing before this past weekend. Now, I’m not talking about different languages. I’m talking about the ways people talk in the same language in different books. Let me explain. During the past several weeks I have been having, I guess what you would call angst, about my future when my younger son graduates from high school in May. What kind of opportunities would I have to write or to do whatever as a woman in her early 50’s. It’s big stuff–this thing called having an empty nest. I’ve poured myself into my kids for over twenty years and especially for the last twelve as I have homeschooled them. So, I have a lot to think about and consider.
What does that have to do with different kinds of language? I saw a quote by Virginia Woolf last week which resonated with me. This led to the books she had written. Here’s the quote. “I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.” As far as I’m concerned, there is so much truth in that statement. Anyway, I went to her list of books and found a description of one of them. A Room of One’s Own. An essay based upon two papers read in October of 1928. Wow! This was something I needed to read. Something that might answer my questions.
I found it at the library on Sunday and began reading it. I’m not done yet. but one of the first things I noticed was how different the language was. This was written by a woman in the 1920’s so, of course, you would expect it to be different. But, I didn’t know how different it would be. I have been alternating between reading this book and a military science fiction book, and the differences are stark. In the first, Woolf discusses how women have not had opportunities to do things that are amazing because they have been weighted down by the desires of men–between children and cooking and mending and everything else that goes on in a household. Men have been the ones to write about women, to act in plays about women, and to discuss the affairs of the day without considering the opinion of women. While in the military science fiction book, which a woman wrote, the main female characters have had every opportunity–to gain medical knowledge, weapons knowledge, and knowledge about all of the sciences. A cornucopia of opportunity. In this book, women are respected for their knowledge; they are respected for what they can do; and they are valued members of the group they are associated with.
Two different comparisons–one fiction and one not, but both representative of the times in which they were written. It was interesting to me how well both books have been able to state their premise with the language used. The book by Woolf has more formal language–language used in the late 1920’s as well as in her country of origin–while the other book’s vernacular is more present-day. Despite the different kinds of language used, it was nice to see that the people of each era dreamed about and wanted the same things–for men and women to be seen as equal human beings. Though a lot has changed between 1928 and 2018, we still have a long way to go. May we as writers lead the way using words to paint pictures of how we would like the world to be!
When I read the latest entry in my writing inspiration book, I almost shook my head and kept going. I’ve never been one of those to get into positive thinking books. They represented things to me like believing you’ll get a million dollars if you say it often enough to yourself or believing that your sick family member will get well. And we all know that people die, and there is poverty so how is this kind of thinking supposed to work? Some proponents of positive thinking would say that your faith wasn’t good enough or that you didn’t believe hard enough if your thoughts didn’t come true. I know that is not true so how does positive thinking or motivation work with writing or with anything else for that matter?
The entry I read had some thoughts for me which I want to expand upon for you all today. Six years ago, I didn’t have a blog. I wrote my stories down in notebooks that were for me alone. I played around with words, descriptions, settings, characters, and did my best to put them into a somewhat interesting story. I knew how to copy-edit, but editing as a whole to make the story better was something that was beyond me. I loved writing my stories, but something was missing, something important. I wasn’t motivated to finish anything that was original to me. Yes, I finished a few small projects, but the big ones…they languished in perpetual obscurity on my computer.
Things changed when I went to a small genre/writing convention in my hometown that spring. I met writers and sat in on their talks. I learned so much about this thing I was trying to do. I started this blog when I came home, and even more notably, I started calling myself a writer. It was a change in mindset, and one that I am only beginning to understand six years later.
Because, you see, the article I read earlier talked about how positive thinking works because there is a strong connection between the mind and body. From pg. 18 of The Writer’s Daily Companion by Amy Peters, “Neurologists describe it as ‘neurons that fire together wire together.’ In other words, you have the capacity, by affirming your goals, to effectively rewire your brain.” It made sense to me. That’s what I’ve done over the last six years. I’ve rewired my brain and now have a body of work to show for it–in my blogs and in my journals. (The journal I’m writing in now is my twentieth journal.) I’ve gone through seasons where I haven’t written as much as I’ve written in other seasons, but I have written, and I have shared. I’ve shared pieces of me I haven’t shared anywhere else. The most important thing I have gained during these years is the ability to say I am a writer and the desire to work on my craft.
Going back to the power of positive thinking though, is there a reason I haven’t been published yet? Is there a reason that all of the positive thoughts I’ve had haven’t come to fruition? Am I not thinking positively enough? I’ll have to go back and read one of those positive thinking books again, but my first thought after writing these words is that positive thinking has to do with the things you can control. You can’t control whether someone wants to publish your book. You can’t control whether someone wants to give you money. You can’t even control whether someone lives or dies. But, you can control what you think and believe, and you can do the work to become better at your craft. So, on this day, January 10, 2018, I proclaim that I am a writer to all who read this blog post!
Have a great day, everyone!
I was thinking of the reasons why I write earlier. There are many of them–cheap therapy, defining my relationship with God, getting a story out of my head and onto paper or the screen, describing the world around me, using words to paint a picture, making a record of my life. But, there is a quote I found which explains my reasons for writing perfectly, and I want to elaborate on it today.
First, the quote. Anais Nin had this to say about writing. “The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say.” Unable to say. There are many things I am unable to say. There have been many things in history people haven’t been able to say or haven’t been listened to when they said them.
But, when they’ve been written down, it’s another story. Nations and people’s lives have been changed by the written world. I think of characters from The Color Purple or Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin which inspired a country to change. I also think of such books as The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque, The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, 1984 by George Orwell, and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Each of these books, in its own way, changed the lives of its generation and the generations that followed making them the classics they are today. They illustrated thoughts and feelings that made people see issues in a different light which made talking about them easier. So, writing about the things we cannot say has changed the world.
It has changed my own world also. I have written things about my faith and about my own thoughts and feelings that I would never dare say out loud. Things about doubt and lack of trust. Things that have made me wonder if I have any faith at all. I have written things about people who seem so put together whereas I know that I’m falling apart. Why would these people want to be my friends when they have everything together, and I don’t? I don’t want to say it out loud though. My fear of losing friends is too much if I said it out loud.
But, writing it, writing it I can do. I can write my words about doubt and lack of trust and understand them better. I can write my words about how messed-up I am and imagine that someone else is taking solace in them. I can write my words about jealousy and envy and pray that the Holy Spirit would fill me so full that I wouldn’t have room for the feelings God doesn’t want me to have. I can write my words about having courage to meet that put-together person, and that maybe, maybe, we might have something in common. I can write the words I am unable to say.
Writing has changed my life in ways that couldn’t possible be imagined. It has given me the courage to live amidst the doubts, the ability to sort out my thoughts and feelings, and the knowledge that I am who I am no matter how much the world would like me to be different. What I have to say is important whether it is said out loud or written down. For if we did not write down the forbidden things, we would never have the chance to change our world or understand it better. I, for one, have decided it is too great of a risk so I will continue to write down the forbidden things, to write down what I cannot say so I can be understood.