Are you sick of these yet? I know, I know. Somewhere in the back of my churning brain I’m vaguely aware that many of you could not possibly care less how I’m progressing in this National Novel Writing Month thing.
I feel bad for you. I do. Not merely because, after all these years together, I feel impelled to write witty things as a way to express my gratitude for the moments you take to visit my corner of the vast blogosphere. I also do it because, well, most of the time I’ve got something pressing on my mind that I just can’t wait to share with you and you. Or you. Yeah, even you.
But I’m not thinking of you right now. And, in all honesty, there’s a good chance that I won’t for the rest of this NaNo writing month. De-link me now if you will. I’ll understand.
I’m understanding quite a bit these days, I find.
After I woke up and brushed my teeth this morning, I shuffled unwashed and still half-bleary to the tiny, musty space that serves as my office. If I haven’t told you already, these cramped confines were once a closet. Back before we bought the house, the nice couple who lived here used it to shelve books on astrology and New Age healing. There’s still a nice vibe left in here, a hippy-dippy sandalwood and chakra kind of vibe only heightened by the Tuscan Sand color I chose to paint the walls.
At my request (not just to cover up the walls’ bleak whitness but also for a space to call my own), VH built shelves to hold the wholesale lots of fiction books I habitually buy on eBay. Wedged between the crowded, multi-colored spines of my book collection, and the door that does not completely latch, sits my golden oak rolltop desk: the one and only furniture splurge I’ve made since we moved here.
It’s a tiny space, but it’s all mine.
You cannot understand the significance of that word, mine, unless you have children and a spouse who takes to heart that 50-50 thing. And, honestly, even before the VH, I’m not sure I had too many private places in my life, too many things I could point to and say: “This is off-limits. This is not yours. This is ground upon which I alone can tread.”
Hell, even the diary I kept as a teenager turned out to be my mother’s best source of topics to discuss with her therapist.
But this room? This is mine, even if the Big-Eyed Boy walks through the door without knocking, he knows to apologize when he does. The VH comes in with a look upon his face that says, “Damn. I forgot. I am so, so sorry.” They get it, my family does. They understand.
Yes, sometimes their memories lapse and, because they love me so, they intrude. But they remember. They know and understand, without the need for me to raise my voice or seek the solace of an understanding but expensive therapist, that this is important to me, my space. My little room in which I am Kate, just Kate, and not someone’s wife or mother. I am me, within these walls where my keyboard erects the barrier between the woman I once believed I would become and the woman I’m glad to have turned into. In here I rebuild and re-create the woman they each need me to be.
This is the one place in our house not cluttered with The Big-Eyed Boy’s books or toys. The only real sanctuary I have from dishes and laundry and pee-drenched toilets that I alone, evidently, have the power to fix. In here, I am the Master of my domain. I am the Ultimate Authority. I set a martini down and I can guaran-freaking-tee you it will be on a coaster. This is my space, and here there is no sense of compromise, no happy medium. This is my place to do with as I will, and I protect it with a vodka-soaked defiance that, I assure you, you can’t begin to comprehend.
I’ve been in here since 11 a.m. today. Outside my closed door the sun reached it zenith and set without needing me to witness that fact. And I? I have expurgated ten lives or more in black letters against a bone white screen. I’ve wrestled with my demons. I’ve tilted at my windmills. I have grasped the child that once was me and, clenching her firmly to my heart, gave voice to the fears that no one let her speak before.
Right now, my door is closed. There is a towel wedged up tight between the narrow slit that separates the door and the carpet so badly in need of vacuuuming. My smoke-eater is going full-blast. All the better to drown out your voice, my dear, I tell VH when he suggests turning it down so I can hear him talking to the doorknob.
This is my space, and I love it. I’m guessing you’ve caught on to that by now.
Well, here’s something you may not have realized yet: in this space I have managed to go from 20,000-ish words last night to my current word-count of 29,743. And, between you and me and these four sacred Tuscan Sand-colored walls lined with some of the greatest books ever written, there are more words waiting to spill from my fingertips this night.
I didn’t know I had that many words within me. I didn’t know how good it felt to get them out, to simply let them fall as they will on the page without my ego stepping in to nudge them into something seemly, something more proper, something resembling the nice little pleated-skirt schoolgirl I’ve spent nearly 40 years thinking I ought to be.
Yes, I’m still plagued with biting, tinny voices hovering in the dark spaces of my mind long enough to say “This sucks! You suck! Why on earth did you ever thing you could write a novel?!” then darting away before I can excorcise them.
I’m realizing now, however, how very much like my mother and my junior high English teachers those voices sound. So shrill. So strident. So bent on my failure that, between you and me, I can’t wait to prove them wrong.
I’m past the halfway mark on NaNo now. And yet, somehow, I feel like I’ve only just now begun to write.
Thank you, Dana. Thank you Agent Bedhead, Kim of the Musing Mind, Rammer, Wichi Dude, and Horse and Bryan (even though I do think Hemmingway’s art was more a product of his time than any particular genius on his part) and my fellow NaNo-novice, Teresa. I’m writing my novel, and thanks to you — and the unprecedented display of support from the VH — I am loving it, no matter what I say when those other strident voices staart underminining my self-esteem. I’m writing. By God: I am writing!
Almost twenty years ago, I said this was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Thanks to your encouragement, I’m finding out that the rest of my life has been waiting for me. Here in this little room where the walls hug me close I am discovering that great fountain of words within me which, thanks to the fullness of the courage you’ve given me, are ready at long last to erupt.