Embracing Rain and Myself

For the past nine weeks I haven’t been working. My contract ended and I didn’t take on any new work because I wanted to spend the last few weeks of summer with my stepson. Also, I have a baby on the way so let’s face it, seeking full-time employment seems kind of difficult when in a few more months I plan to stay at home anyway.

Facing a period of unemployment I envisioned all the grand things that would fill my days: adventures, writing, yoga (read more about that in my post at WorkingMother.com). Now I’ve realized that nine weeks have passed and I haven’t done much of any of those things.

It just dawned on me that it was raining outside and I was missing it. I love the rain. Okay, a lot of people I’ve come across don’t necessarily understand that, but it’s true. I love how peaceful the world becomes in the rain. I love how clean everything looks as dirt is washed away. There is something about the rain that makes the world smaller and cozier to me.

We haven’t had much rain this year so when I really paid attention to the fact that it was raining, I felt sad for missing it. And for what? TV and to do lists. This is not what I want for myself.

So I am consciously making a shift. I opened two windows just enough to hear the rain fall. I’m sitting by one of the windows with the blinds and curtains pushed out of the way so I can enjoy the view. A gentle breeze is sweeping across me as I sit here to write.

Did you catch that? To write. With the rain outside my window. How glorious.

Is there anything you might be missing today? If so, please pause for just a moment and figure out what it is you want to do right here, right now. Don’t let another day go by.

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Wishcasting: Leap

Wishcasting badgeIt is Wishcasting Wednesday, a wonderful day when we can cast our wishes out in the world and support everyone else’s wishes with positive energy.

Today Jamie asks, “What leap do you wish to take?”

I wish to leap into the amazing world of fiction writing. Without fear, without pressure. I wish to leap into the process of crafting a story, arms and heart wide open ready to embrace characters and give them a safe space to grow and share their experiences.

If you missed it yesterday, I posted a little excerpt of something I wrote – A Night at the Pool.

I’m leaping already.

What leap do you wish to take?

Visit Jamie’s site to see what other people are wishing to have.

Fiction: A Night at the Pool

After explaining yesterday that I have been working on some fiction lately, I thought it might be fun to share a piece. What follows is a short scene I started based on a writing prompt from Writer’s Digest. (Do I need to say that everything here is fictitious and any similarities to real people or places is strictly coincidental?)

This didn’t have a title until just now, but it felt like there should be something indicating the end of my commentary and the beginning of the story. I give you…

A Night at the Pool

There’s a reason I try to avoid breaking rules. It seems like whenever I do, something goes wrong. I’ve grown accustomed to the notion that the rules are there to protect me. I realize it’s not like that for everyone. Some people thrive on rebellion. It serves them well. Not me.

And so it stands to reason that the one night my friend Charlotte convinced me to go for a late night swim at the community pool, I probably should have declined. Breaking and entering certainly qualifies as rule-breaking, but it was swelteringly hot and the pool beckoned with sweet refreshment. If I was going to be soaked in something, better chlorinated water than sweat, I thought.

Charlotte had flirted with one of the lifeguards on more than one occasion. It hadn’t taken her long to learn where a key was hidden for staff and cleaners. It had taken her even less time to convince me that we could get in, swim for an hour, and lock up without anyone knowing and without anyone being hurt by it. It was a victimless crime.

The pool was a little over a mile from my house so we walked, not wanting to arouse suspicion by parking a car nearby. Charlotte found the key, unlocked the gate, and closed it behind us. In the moonless night, we followed the glow from the pool’s underwater lights. The surface of the water rippled slightly as pools often do and I could feel the relief that was about to be ours.

Charlotte must have felt it, too. Before I could say anything, she had kicked off her flip-flops, stripped off her t-shirt and shorts, and was diving in. I set my clothes on the first chair I passed, adjusted my swimsuit, and started down the stairs into the blissfully cool water.

“See, Jill? I told you this would be great,” she called when I was in. “The pool is all ours. This is the first time a today I haven’t felt like hyperventilating from the heat.”

“Yes, it does feel really good.” I dunked my head and smoothed my hair back, then settled in to a comfortable back float. From the corner of my eye I caught Charlotte starting her first lap.

I closed my eyes and let my tension and my sweat wash away. I tried not to think about how awful it would be to get back out in that humid air, only to never really dry off.

The night was still. The only sounds were the bugs in the near distance and the gentle splash Charlotte’s arms and legs slicing through the water, the latter of which fell away to nothingness.

I didn’t realize this was a problem until I heard her quaking voice call my name. I turned to see her treading water at the far end where the pool turned it’s L-shaped corner into the diving board area. Her eyes stared wide at what I couldn’t see from where I was.

“What is it, Charlotte?” When she didn’t answer, I started toward her adding, “Are you okay?”

She shook her head ever so slightly as she tried to find words. “I’m fine. He is not.” That’s when I turned away from her to what held her attention and no, he most definitely was not fine.

Why I’ve Been So Quiet (My muse had other plans)

I haven’t blogged much in the past few weeks and though it’s not terribly unusual for me to take breaks, I thought I’d share a little about what I’ve been working on.

I spent quite a lot of time a few weeks ago thinking about writing. I’d been feeling a little lackluster with it lately despite the huge urge I felt to write. I felt like I had stories trying desperately to escape, but I just couldn’t quite hear them. It was frustrating and had me questioning whether writing was what I really wanted.

I took out my journal one day and started listing places I thought I might want to write. It ranged from the generic “book” to specific magazine titles that I liked. In the end it was a very, very short list.

Since magazines always seemed like the easy way to go (I really don’t know why it seems that way, it probably isn’t), I stared at the few I had written down and couldn’t come up with a single spark. I felt bored just looking the list.

At that point, I put my list away and didn’t look at it for a few days. I was feeling lost and frustrated and spent time instead focusing on my garden, my stepson’s baseball games, and work. I don’t think I wrote a single thing for over a week, not even a journal entry.

When I finally pulled my journal back out, I tried to remember what I liked writing when I was in grade school and college. I described each particular piece trying to recall titles, subjects, or turns of phrase.

Then I read my entry and had one of those fabulous moments of “ohhh… it seems so obvious.” Fiction. With the exception of two things listed, everything was fiction. Short stories galore. Even a couple stories that I thought at the time might be the start of something longer. And the two non-fiction pieces were creative essays, high on personality, low on tedium.

I gave up fiction a long time ago. Maybe it seemed too unattainable. Maybe I thought I could never fill a novel. Maybe I was afraid of criticism. Whatever the reason, I’m ready to get back in the game.

In fact, I have now spent the past week stretching my creative muscles. I started by writing a few paragraphs one night from the point of view of a character I made up. It felt exciting. I could feel the energy buzzing around inside me.

The following night, I found a writing prompt and set out to write the scene with a goal of reaching 500 words. A fast hour later I had 1,000 words.

The next day I started recalling a story idea that I never actually wrote. I had started it just after college I think by pulling together notes and ideas. The more I lingered on that thought, the more a scene started to come together in my head. I sat down to start writing it that night and had about a page-and-a-half of something I was really excited about. This weekend I added another scene to it.

Fiction is energizing me right now. I can’t believe I ignored it for so long. I’m just happy my muse stuck with me all these years patiently waiting for me to be ready. This is the start of something beautiful.