Monday, April 16, 2012

I am Not That Writer...

Another, more famous, rejection letter.
There is a clear plastic bag that once held a quilt.  At some point, the bag became the home of short stories, and a scrap of paper or two with the names of publisher written in neat letters.  There is a rejection letter or two.  That clear bag houses much more, though.  It is home to a forgotten dream. 

I have to remind myself...I am not that writer. 

That writer was my grandmother.  Her stories are not my stories, although there are certain words or turns of phrase that we both share.  Her stories suffocated in the plastic bag.  Whether they were tucked away in frustration, or if life simply got the better of her intentions...I will never know.

Every day I work on my book.  Some days I make my page count, and other days I work through plot points in my head, or in long messages to fellow writers who offer feedback and encouragement--things that I am certain my grandmother never had.  She never talked with me about her writing; she treated it like a childish fancy to be tucked away from the bright light of the "real world"--almost as if she were ashamed of it.

Perhaps she was.

The words are meticulously typed.  The pages are yellowed and starting to crumble, the edges are curled.  I wonder if she ever pulled them back out once she had tucked them away....  Did she ever read them over again, looking for some value or truth in the worlds and people she created?

Did she write late at night, like I do?  Or early in the morning before the sun had chased away the night?  Did she write even when the laundry chastised her for neglecting it and dishes piled up in the sink?  Or did those around her chastise her, instead?  Did she tuck the stories away of her own accord, did she abandon them, or were they wrestled away from her?

More than once, I have sat at the dining room table and struggled to make my daily word count before loading the dishwasher or tidying up the living room.  I have tucked children in bed and reminded them that their bedtime is when I follow my dream; I remind them that adults have dreams, too...that dreams are what make us individuals.  I have reread my pages with a critical eye, and wondered if anyone cares if I finish...or rather, anyone other than me.

Stifled dreams...
I wonder, at times, if I am following her down some long-trodden path that will end up in a plastic bag of suffocated dreams.  These are the days that I have to remind myself...

"I am not that writer."