When I came to writing to cry about my relationship with my dad, the relationship became peaceful. When I came to writing to talk about my screaming kid, his screaming became endearing. Someone even called my letter to Brodie upbeat. It ended that way, sure, but I was not upbeat when I started writing. I was super serious about sticking him in Pops’ studio. I could hear my husband telling my sons in the other room, “If you know what’s best for you, you’ll leave your mother alone and let her write.”
Smart man, that husband of mine.
Writing is my friend. It doesn’t get busy. It doesn’t have kids or a fiancé. I can’t wear out my welcome here or go straight to voicemail. It doesn’t pass judgment, lets me figure stuff out on my own and by God if it doesn’t have the answers, it helps me look for them.
Subtly as possible, it suggests what I’m worried (scared, irritated, nervous, whatever) about might just be a style issue. Maybe I should just rearrange the paragraphs.
I like friends like that.
I’m starting to think self-discovery might happen when I don’t know I’m looking for it. It might even be the stuff I find when looking for something else entirely. I’m sure someone else has said that already. It doesn’t matter. This is my brand of writing. There really are no new ideas.
The first CD I ever owned was The Bodyguard Soundtrack. Does, I will always love you, ring a bell? Yeah, well, it was a cover. Dolly Parton recorded it in 1974. 18 years before Whitney Houston rocked my world with it. Now, I adore Dolly Parton, but I didn’t really fall in love with her until The White Stripes covered and released Jolene in 2004.
I love Lady Gaga. Like, love, love. That didn’t happen until I was introduced to her by a still unknown Haley Reinhart on American Idol singing You and I before it was even released. Until I heard a piano only duet of Poker Face on Glee.
Kurt Hummel introduced me to Barbra Streisand. The Dixie Chicks introduced me to Fleetwood Mac. Motherhood introduced me to Megan. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Brandon, introduced me to writing.
Writing is introducing me to, me.
See how that works?
I was accidentally encouraged by a book called Armageddon in Retrospect recently. It was written by Kurt Vonnegut. It was published after his death. The introduction was written by his son, Mark, also a writer.
Mark said of his dad,
“Writing was a spiritual exercise for my father, the only thing he really believed in. He wanted to get things right but never thought that his writing was going to have much effect on the course of things…Anyone who wrote or tried to write was special to Kurt. And he wanted to help…The most radical, audacious thing to think is that there might be some point to working hard and thinking hard and reading hard and writing hard and trying to be of service…He was a writer who believed in the magic of the process—both what it did for him and what it could do for the readers.”
Mr. Vonnegut is one of my friends and mentors now, but only because I first fell in love with the version his son wanted me to know. His son’s cover.
I was written about recently. Being written about by someone else was a gigantic boost for my ego, but not in the way you might imagine. Please don’t misunderstand me, the accolades are nice. Especially because Megan, part of my collective muse, and my brother, Austin, picked some of my rawer, non-generic characteristics to sing praises about. I’m glad they didn’t have to wait until I was dead. It makes me feel I might be doing something right. It’s nice to receive a compliment for doing something you didn’t think was a big deal, a “thanks for being you”. I’ll be honest, feeling that way is amazing! But I’m writing this because Megan makes me want to talk. Because
told me “You’ve inspired me to write.” That means something. It means a lot of something. Austin
Especially because their writing is really, really good.
I feel better when I’m not telling someone what to do. Oh, don’t mistake me, I tell people what to do all of the time. I’m a woman, wife, mom, big sister, friend. I might even be telling you what to do right now. But I feel better about myself when I think I’ve accidentally encouraged them, instead. Encouraged them to do something they wanted to do anyway.
Lady Gaga wore a meat suit. A lot of people think she’s too weird. A lot more don’t. She’s an amazing song writer and I swear she stole some of those lyrics from me. Kurt Vonnegut wrote a book about, in part, aliens from another planet who laugh at the idea of free-will. About a man who becomes “Un-stuck” in time. It’s about as kooky as they come. I like kooky. It teaches you something, but in a crazy, weird way. I don’t want to wear a meat suit and I don’t think I want to write about aliens. That’s not the point. The point is they accidentally encouraged me by being just brainy enough and just ballsy enough to become pretty great versions of the people they already were.
So, here’s the lesson I’m learning today.
Crazy people don’t sit around and wonder if they’re crazy, but usually writers sit around and wonder if they’re writers. Some of the really, really good ones, in fact. There are lots of quotes about it. I looked them up. Writers love to hear the sound of their own voices. When I get unsure about loving the sound of my own voice or wonder if I’m really a writer. When I get a little scared…fine, a lot scared, I’m learning to rearrange the paragraphs. Even though I met writing in the 5th grade and we’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship for years, there is still so much to learn. And somehow, it feels exactly the same.
I listened to Barbra Streisand and Kurt Hummel sing, As if we never said goodbye, today and I’m pretty sure it changed my life. Barbra Streisand is deathly afraid of being on stage. But, when she’s up there…
oh. my. god.
P.S. If you know my friend, writing, and wonder if it’s time to get back in contact. You’re probably right. Make sure you mention that Krysten says Hi. And Thank You.