If you’re a parent, you’ve heard this from your children on sunny days, rainy days, weekend days, and even on holidays.
Today I heard it from my girl, who says it more often than her brother.
They are two different birds.
To fill the time, he’ll find something to construct or design or build. Legos, Bionicles, whatever. But if she’s bored, she would likeitverymuchthankyou if someone (me) would come by with something like a dessert tray, filled with an array of activity options.
She’s a creative girl. There’s not a day that passes when she doesn’t have the markers and crayons spread out across the kitchen table while she draws pictures.
Without that outlet, she can go a little nuts. It’s just beneath her skin, that need to express herself, the way it’s under mine. If she can’t burn off that energy, it comes out in other ways that – while colorful – aren’t as pleasant as a pile of her drawings.
Today when she said “I’m bored,” it was an easy fix. I knew where to find some pretty paper, and I had some magazines she could cut up to make a collage. She spent the next hour quiet and happy at the table.
My girl and I aren’t so different. My need to get it all out may be more contained and even pushed aside by the need to pay the bills or put dinner on the table, but just like her, I need to burn off some of this energy.
This morning, I pulled some boxes out of my office closet, to find all the printed-out copies of my novel-in-progress and assemble them in one place. I want to read through from its first incarnation, the way you might read through old love letters, so that maybe I could fall in love with the story again, or at least remember why I fell so hard for it in the beginning. To see if the story feels necessary to me, still.
It’s strange to go back and read what I wrote years ago (yes, it’s been a long road with too many stops).
When I read those early pages now, it’s startling to hear how much my voice has changed. And while it’s depressing to think how much rewriting there is to do, it also makes me feel hopeful because it means one thing: I have changed. My voice is different because I am different. On a good day, I’m more confident. On the rest (most of them), I still know it’s the thing I’m meant to spend my life doing.
If any of you get your water from a well, you know that if you let the faucet run for a few minutes, that’s when the cold, sweet water comes up. It’s worth the wait, right? I’m hoping for the same with the book.
When I found the pretty paper for my daughter, I showed her the goods and asked her if she wanted it all. Her smile was the brightest thing I’d seen all day. It was exactly what she needed, even if she couldn’t have said so. (When that happens, for a parent, it’s kind of a big deal.)
One small thing can change the face of a day, and I’ve got to believe that a few small changes will alter the landscape of the next year for me.
I’m committing to two.
The first is that instead of driving the kids to school in the morning and then driving on to Starbucks for my fix, I’ll walk with them to school and then complete the almost-four mile loop to end up back at home. (Edited: School is only half a mile away.) Five days a week of that should do something for my ass, yes? But it will also be good for the writing. Mindless tasks or activities work for me that way.
The other change is that I’m not going to set my book aside until I’m through this first draft. No folders. No boxes. No closet. It’s staying right under my nose until the bitter(sweet) end.
And I’m telling all of you and granting you full permission to bug me about those two things.
Here’s a picture of what I’ve found so far of my book, the mess that I need to cut up and make into a collage. I’ll give it a quick skim, and then get on with the work.
Maybe if you stare it it long enough, it’ll grow. (Hasn’t work for me, but maybe if you all stare at it at once…)
Neil at Citizen of the Month writes about change today, and the “forces of the status quo” should be shaking in their boots. I would say that his blog is a favorite, and that would be true, but I’m guessing that others have said it over and over. And maybe one more over.