Shaune tapped my book. “Are you giddy with excitement because The Smurfs are back?”
I lowered Bird by Bird a little, looked at the trailer for the new movie, rolled my eyes and picked up where I was reading again. It had been a mild source of amusement between us since Rosemary had burned me a copy of The Smurf’s Greatest Hits a few years ago. Although she was there, she seemed to have forgotten all the painful parts of my childhood. Her kid-like capacity to paint everything with pink frosting was infuriating.
“Yeah, I’m beside myself,” I replied.
“I can’t believe you guys were so into it.” He insisted.
“It was one of Matthew’s shows. We liked it because he liked it.” I knew this would stop his teasing. I didn’t want to have to whip out the Matthew card but it was the truth.
“Oh.” He left it alone after that. A quick pain stabbed through me to see that I’d turned a light moment so grave. A little over a year after his passing and I still was not able to discuss my brother with anything close to levity.
I looked back down at the book.
In this dark and wounded society, writing can give you the pleasures of the woodpecker, of hollowing out a hole in a tree where you can build your nest and say, “This is my niche, this is where I live now, this is where I belong.” And the niche may be small and dark, but at last you will finally know what you are doing. After thirty years or more of floundering around and screwing up, you will finally know, and when you get serious you will be dealing with the one thing you’ve been avoiding all along – your wounds. This is very painful. It stops a lot of people early on who didn’t get into this for the pain. They got into it for the money and the fame. So they either quit, or they resort to a type of writing that is sort of like candy making.
“It’s a good memory.” I offered. “Kinda like our reluctant affection for Dora because Deaglan loves her. You know?”
“Yeah, I get it.”
Another Band-Aid to cover the ugliness. A moment-by-moment discipline: I practiced restraining my ego again, the part of me who would rather have ranted on and on about how unfair it was growing up in that house. I stopped myself from launching into a twenty minute word montage illustrating what childhood had been like for me.
Lamott’s words were now drowning out everything I’d trained myself to believe, everything I’d feared. All that had ever stopped me from writing.
Even if you never publish a word, you have something important to pour yourself into. Your parents and grandparents will be shouting, “Don’t do it, don’t sit down, don’t sit down!,” and you’ll have to do what you did as a kid – shut them out and get on with finding out about life.
This is what I came up with for the prompt: tv show from your past. Maybe you watched it, maybe you didn't and it was just something that everyone else talked about. What feelings does the show evoke? What memories does it trigger?
Do you like how I snuck in a book review of Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird? I wish I could express how enchanting it was. How I wanted to sit down and write every single time I read even one paragraph. How I yearned to stalk her until I could pinpoint her whereabouts and then insist we discuss everything. I wanted to ask her how she could know me so well to be able to write a book so suited to me and my desires. I wanted to quote several pages at a time in my writing until it became quite apparent what I would be doing. Plagerizing.
If you don't believe me, please read it for yourself. Make sure you buy a copy because you'll find it impossible not to dog-ear and highlight it. And then after you've read it, and you find yourself at the library trying to get your hands on everything else she's written, don't be mad.
I've got all of her books on loan indefinitely.