How I Write

When my writerly friend Kristin (of Two Cannoli) asked me to join in a blog tour which asks participants about their writing process, my initial reaction to her question was to suck in my breath and bite my lip. Contort my face. Oh, I wasn’t certain. Flattered! But really unsure. Did I even qualify for this blog tour? My writing is very sparse lately and Kristin’s writing is stunning. Perhaps you’ve seen her work around the internet? Like one of her popular joint HuffPost pieces with Alexandra Rosas What Will I Know? Yeah. Kristin knows her stuff. But then, as per usual, my second thought was eh, what the hell which is actually not a bad backup thought to have. No, cringe, withdraw. And then– Yes, smile, push forward. Plus, I do so love me some self-discovery. Joining this blog tour sounded like a great opportunity to talk about craft and maybe I’d learn something from the act? I said what the hell. And what the hell here we go.

 

1. What am I working on?
This is easy. Not a thing. Other than the occasional personal blog post, I’ve put on my oven mitts, picked up the roiling freelancing pot there on the stove, and gently placed it on the proverbial back burner. There are no current writing projects or big ideas in queue. And quite honestly, I’m loving having no commitments there. Write when I want to write. Blog when I want to blog. The end. For now.

 

Most of my steam these days is concentrated on self-preservation–with 4 children to wrangle, a household to run, a new house (to oversee) being built, and being 36+ weeks pregnant–my tank is often hovering just above E. Also I guess you could say I’m nesting. Here at our rental homestead we’re getting the birth space together for Cupcake. Homebirth kit is organized. The birth pool should be arriving this week. I have one more photo shoot on the books before Cuppie’s birthday. In the interim, the most important thing is to prepare my mind, body and spirit for childbirth and welcoming a new person to the planet in the most gentle, loving way I know how.

 

I’m really enjoying doing less than my norm, taking pics of my own children, and reflecting on our final days as a family of six before we become seven. Holy crap SEVEN.
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2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?
You know, I have no idea if my writing really does differ from others of its genre. I like to think I mix heart with humor and sometimes polish what I find to be a gem–rather than the usual ordinary stone (though I love those ordinary stones too)–but that could be wishful thinking. Anyway, isn’t that what many others do as well? It doesn’t matter to me so much how my writing differs, only that it remains true to ME. I think the best writing is authentic writing. I’m most concerned with mastering my own voice. And that’s a constant quest for any writer. Because voice changes. I’d like to walk beside my voice rather than constantly chase after it.

 

My writing is definitely heavily influenced by my photography. It’s often hard to say which comes first, the idea for a post or the picture I’m including in the post. I don’t even bother posting unless I’ve got a picture to share too. (Did you notice the random pictures I’m including in this one?) Can’t help it. I’m very visual. Need images paired with words. NEED. Need. They more than help me tell these stories.

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3. Why do I write what I do?
I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I went to a Montessori preschool and Kindergarten. One of my earliest memories there was sitting with the smooth tile sets and tracing my finger over the sand-paper letters adhered to each. I traced A an B and C and so on and all the while I remember feeling happy as those letters scratched and tickled. As a child I wrote books and poems for relatives on their birthdays or as Christmas presents. I kept diaries, then journals because journals sounded way cooler when I was in high school. But it wasn’t until I became a mother in my mid-twenties when a stumbled upon a whole new well of feelings and thoughts and thingsIneededtosayandhaveheardbyothers.

 

I write what I write (my life) to remember. I write to know what I already know. I write to learn more. I write so that I don’t burst open at the seams.

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4. How does my writing process work?
For better or worse, I love immediacy. I could blame the times, my iPhone, easy access to information and sharing. I could blame pop culture, society, or something. But I know it’s really me. I have to remind myself, force myself to slow it the EFF down. And I’m talking about in all aspects of my life, writing included.

 

I do a ton of writing in my head. Sometimes I actually see my thoughts as arranged in sentences and paragraphs, whether or not I’m technically “writing.” So know that when you’re reading a blog post, 99% of the time I’ve JUST cranked it out moments before I hit publish. Sure, I’ve read it ten to twenty times through and edited as I went   along, but as far as having lots of posts in the draft stage? Uh uh. No. That’s not my style. Goes back to immediacy I think. Also why I must write–so what’s inside of me doesn’t shrivel up and croak.

 

I had a poetry professor in college who once told us that poetry was the highest art form of all, but especially tops in the writing world. Of course he thought that; he was A POET for crying out loud, and I mighty pompous one at that. But every word, he said, every punctuation mark, every line break, every letter, every positive or negative space–mattered. Mattered so much–that your message, the power and the glory and all of creation basically depended upon it. So we should choose wisely. Craft consciously. Be deliberate, bold, as brief as we must. Every time I write–I let that thought be my overarching guide.

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* * * * *
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Part of the blog hop is asking two more writers to answer these questions. First I thought of a blog bud, Jennifer P. Williamsand was thrilled when she said sure thing. I love Jennifer’s down-home style. She has an easy way with words and her stories are always sprinkled with wisdom. That’s how I think of Jennifer–just wise. In fact she offers a series on her blog called Advise This. If you’ve got a question, problem, or some situation wherein you need a little guidance, she’s your woman. You’ll feel her genuineness down in your bones. 

 

Next I thought of Angela Youngblood of Jumping With My Fingers Crossed I began reading Angela’s blog back when I co-hosted a weekly linkup called #ippp with my friend Greta.  Fast forward to present and now Angela is one of the co-hosts for that linky! As a fellow mama of four I immediately felt a kinship with her and her brood, but more so the reason I keep going back to her blog– she makes me feel happy. Angela is a bright light. She knows how to have fun and see the good. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything, and still you can’t help but smile your way through her posts. And her vlogs. She is funny. 

 

Be sure to check out Jennifer’s and Angela’s responses to these questions! They’ll be posting their answers later this week. Viva the tour!
– Posted in: writing

I a big boy too

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BIG BOYS! Time for baths! Or showers. Whichever. Leo and Gus, you’re up. Boys let’s go! 

I leaned against the opening to the bathroom. And waited. But there was no movement as far as I could tell. No feet on the hardwood heading my way. Neither boy had stirred. BOYS! I sighed. I didn’t want to be yelling. Lord knows this house is small enough. I shouldn’t have to yell.

And yet someone was close by. I felt a tug on the hem of my shirt. Yank. Yank.

One more yank. One more yank. One more yaaaaaank.

I looked down. I looked around my belly.

There was Oscar with his blue, blues staring and holding his mouth in a sad, straight way.
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I a big boy too he said.

I a big boy too. For goodness sake those words disappeared into my head and I let them wreck me some.

Oh Ozzie. You’re big. You are big. You’re not big. You’re not big at all. You’re my baby. You want me to lump you in with your brothers? You’re my baby.

But I told him You’re big! You are. You’re getting bigger. I picked him up and perched him on my bump in front. Took the opportunity to remind him that soon enough he’d be trying out new things (psssst like the potty. dude the potty is so cool. wanna try it? huh? huh? huh?) and getting bigger and bigger. Just like his brothers.

I think he believed me. At least I got him giggling. No more somber eyes.

Did I believe me though?

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Every day that passes, Cupcake becomes a little bit realer to me. For as much as I’ve prepared and continue to prepare for birth, I know there’ll come a moment when I’ll be in the pool, squatting, sinking down into time and space and everything, willingly losing myself contraction after contraction–and when I come to the surface in between I’ll have that thought: I’m really doing this again. Another human is coming…out.

Of me.

And in those next few birth-filled moments every dynamic my family knows will change. Especially for Oscar. His baby status will be gone and gone forever. Instantly he’ll loom giant-like and hulking next to that itty newborn.

So yes, Oscar’s right in a way. He is acting big(ger) these days.  He’s articulate. He’s got ‘tude. He plays games. He hangs out with his sibs over me when they’re home. I mean he IS two and a half and I know yesthathalfcounts. Mostly I’m amused that at two and a half he’s cluing ME in to the changes going on.

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It’s me who’s left standing, leaning against the opening to the bathroom wondering why doesn’t real become REAL until it’s REALLY REAL? Me picking up discarded clothing and wet towels and embracing and begrudging change all at once.

Wondering how in the world Oscar’s readier for real than I am.

 

– Posted in: family business, motherhood, oscar, parenting

Here catch! New sibling, new house, new school

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New sibling. New house. New school.

We are rocking our way through a pretty good staycation spring break, but already I’ve got my sights set on SUMMER. I don’t mean to jump ahead in time. Spring is great as far as seasons go. I’m always so appreciative that spring comes back around and saves us all from the clutches of winter.

But yeah summer. That’s where my mind is because—-new sibling, new house, new school.

So much newness ahead for my gang. My posse. My crew. My brood. My gaggle. Eh, I never know what to call them. My family? That works too.

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I think a lot about how my wants and my decisions affect my family. My children didn’t particularly ask for a new sibling. They didn’t start a campaign to move us and be uprooted for a year+ to build! build! build! And they have friends and familiarity at their current school. It was we who wanted to switch them into a new one come Fall 2015–into a lovely little parochial school within walking distance of our new house. Yep, these were mostly all my wants (and Mitchell’s) and I feel it’s up to us to be as empathetic as possible in the coming months. We’re responsible for seeing these transitions through.

New people. New places. New things. SO MANY NEW NOUNS TO DEAL WITH.

That’s a ton to throw at anyone, let alone a seven, an almost six, a four, and a two-and-a-half year old. Are you ready Leo, Gus, Matilda, and Oscar?

HERE. CATCH! Hand/eye coordination, kids. Look alive! CATCH ALL THAT NEWNESS, now.

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But that’s just it. I don’t want to sling that newness around. Heap it on them like that. Bury them in it for goodness sake.

And so summer. I’m thinking about it. Getting ready for it in my mind. How can I make these changeovers go smoothly for them? There will certainly be bumps and we’ll all learn and grow from those bumps. But a mom can aim for smooth can’t she?

I believe she can.

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After some time, I’ve come up with a plan. A simple plan. Let’s call it PLAN STEADY. Because I like to name things.

I read a piece on the Huffington Post recently called I’m Done Making My Kid’s Childhood Magical. I’ll admit, as a lover of magical things, the title was initially off-putting to me. But I clicked and I read and I then I audibly exhaled.

These are the parts spoke to me:

None of this negates the importance of time spent as a family, but there is a huge difference between focusing on being together and focusing on the construction of an “activity.” One feels forced and is based on a pre-determined goal, while the other is more natural and relaxed. The immense pressure that parents put on themselves to create ethereal experiences is tangible.

And:

A childhood without Pinterest crafts can be magical. A childhood without a single vacation can be magical. The magic we speak of and so desperately want our children to taste isn’t of our creation, and therefore is not ours to dole out as we please. It is discovered in quiet moments by a brook or under the slide at the park, and in the innocent laughter of a life just beginning.

Magic in the small, uncontrived moments? Oh yes, that’s something I am definitely standing behind.
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Like when we’re just sitting around the table and Gus says to me Mom, you can a picture of ME, but DON’T LOOK at what I’m making…. YET.

I’ll admit;  I did peek.
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DSC_4382And just like that I had a beautiful new Gus-creation. A red heart with yellow orbs and lines criss-crossing all through it. To Mom. From Gus.

I loved it. I love it still. I love everything about it. That. Sitting at the table with my kids. Listening to them talk. Watching them make things on their own. No prompts or pushes or constraints.

I don’t know if you do, but I see/feel the magic in that.

And those are just the kinds of experiences I want all summer long while we take in, breathe in, absorb, adjust, shift into the newness around us.  While we take it the new in our arms and envelop it. I want to cradle the new, like an egg in my palm, and pass it along to my kids. Spend the next season laying low and listening and talking and listening and doing seemingly small things.

Comfortably walking into the next part of our new life.

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That is Plan Steady, and I’m sticking to it. 

 

– Posted in: family business, motherhood, parenting

sitting pretty at 33 weeks. just checking in really.

Are you there friends?

It’s me, Sarah.

I know I’ve been a little MIA around this place lately. The very thing happened on and off in my pregnancy with Oscar. Call it a break. Call it a block. A rut. Call it what you will. It isn’t permanent. I’ve been blogging for more than six years. Of all the things that have come and gone in my life in that time? My blog has stuck it out with me.

Ebb and flow, man.

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It just seems these days we put the kids to bed and instead of clickety clacking out a story or sharing some pictures here I’m all WHERE’S MY LEMON YOGURT AND GLUTEN FREE VANILLA COOKIES.

AND NETFLIX.

And my bed.

I need those things STAT.

Meanwhile my laptop and this blog gather dust. Like I said, not permanent. Dust can be cleared away. See? I cleared off the top layer just tonight! Here I am.

In six to seven weeks we’ll be meeting our Cupcake. I”m beginning to realize that. I mean, it’s really sinking in. Sometime this week I’ll probably order my home birth kit from this place.  I plan on purchasing a new birth pool in a box sometime soon as well.

Meanwhile our house still looks like this, the back of it:
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We lost a good 9 to 10 weeks to the unbelievable arctic overtake that was Winter of 2014.

But the good news is THE BRICK is arriving and THE MASON (who was slated for the beginning of January) ARE STARTING next Friday.

That’s something totally worthy of ALL CAPS. A call for celebration.

Puffy ankles? Not a reason to celebrate.

Charlie horses shooting down my thighs? I could do without those.

Constant pressure on my bladder? Uh uh. Not celebrating that either.

BUT BRICK? I can jump up and down for that. Just a few jumps though. Just a few before Cupcake tells me to KNOCK OFF THAT CRAZINESS, MOM.

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So birth kits! And birth pools! And brick!

Yep, regular party central at our place. You’re most welcome to come hang for awhile. Feel free to bring more lemon yogurt and cookies if you don’t mind. Please and thanks.

 

– Posted in: birth, family business, motherhood