When I left the writers’ conference I walked the sidewalk of the convention center under I sunny sky, the first in two days. People sat in groups on the lawn, eating apples, wearing sunglasses. One man sat on a retaining wall with his iPad. He looked stumped, as if he were searching for just the right word.
I entered the parking ramp. I got on the elevator and could see through the glass windows the courtyard and green grass and the amicable weather we all wished for, and then, even though I was inside and knew the rules, I felt a jolt of surprise when the doors slid to the middle and closed. The beautiful day disappeared. The end. The elevator moved down into the concrete where the van and my life as a mom waited.
I knew I should transition. I should change brains. But I didn’t want to. The time for me to concentrate as a writer—as an adult—comes in spurts with weeks, maybe months of nothing in the interim. I wanted to stay in the same room with writers and the people who publish and promote them. Being around possibility like that inspires.
On the freeway, I accelerated to seventy like everyone else, but in my mind I delayed. I hung on to my writer brain, the one now inspired to take those manuscripts off the shelves and revise them, the one capable of professionalism, intelligent conversation, and watching the news, the brain that analyzes ideas and maybe has an idea or two of her own.
At the various panels I attended I heard writers speak of the long journey to publication. Some said it took twelve years. Others said fifteen. They said that in hindsight it was for the best. Their work got stronger because of the rejections and delays. They matured. They found the best home for their work by waiting.
This year, I will celebrate fifteen years of being married. It didn’t occur to me when I married to hurry up and finish a manuscript. I had a new house to paint. I had to find a new job in a new community. I had plenty of time. But what if I would’ve taken myself seriously then? Would it finally be paying off now? Fifteen years from now, my daughter will be finishing college, an event far away and fuzzy, and so too, a published book.
As I drove, I wanted to hang on to my writer brain because I wanted to get going, focus the lens on what could be attainable if I decided it so. I knew as soon as I stepped over the threshold of my home it would get easy again to delay. Most days I have the brain of a mom multi-tasking chores and activities and playdates and dinner menus. It is a brain without focus. I am a jumping bean in the box, moving from one thing to another without going anywhere. I like my writer brain that can sustain concentration; that can take notes, do research. Inquire. Ask questions. Create.
I got home late. My oldest daughter was still up. She filled me in on the 2 for 1 Airheads she bought at the YMCA Event that night and how her friend bought extra candy for her sisters. She had so much fun. For her, having money to spend at a concession stand is good entertainment. I tried to engage but I didn’t want to turn the sound up yet. I had words of my own still speaking to me.
I noticed the oodles of laundry folded on the table and how it will require five trips up the stairs to put away. I noticed the crumbs and gravel and debris on the floor. I noticed the dishes waiting. Michael asked me what I’d like to do the landscape the backyard. I resisted an answer. I resisted the brainstorm about paver stones and filling in the holes the puppy dug. I resisted thinking of seeds and pulling weeds and harvesting sugar snaps. I know once I start getting creative in the garden, I won’t create on the page.
My writer brain started her exit. I could feel her standing near the screen door like a guest with her coat on, saying goodbye after a nice dinner party. I asked her to hang on, to stay and play. But she could see I was busy, and being ever-so-polite, said thanks and walked back out into the night air.
This post is inspired by letter J in the A to Z Challenge for the month of April. Thanks for reading. Scroll past the social media buttons to share a story or to comment on this post.