The Half Price Books store in which I work is a maze of books. (We sell music, too.) I often take different routes through the maze to arrive in the back room, or to walk to the register. In doing so, I also peruse a book here and there - not long enough to cause trouble, but just quick enough to perk my curious brain and potentially fill my bookshelves. Last week I escaped to our Reference section which includes books on reading and writing. I spied a forest green paperback decorated with an elegant fountain pen, the book titled, "Surviving a Writer's Life" by Suzanne Lipsett. Price: $4.98. (Less than $4.98 for me!) As I've been reading this week, I was surprised to learn it is not merely about Miss Lipsett's writing advice. A significant portion of the book tells of severe traumas she has literally survived including her mother's death and the author raped twice. She also tells fascinating tales of traveling the world and finding the first step of healing from a bath house in Istanbul. She fought with herself, her desire to give up on life and writing, and her confrontation of the knowledge that she must write.
Last night I fell asleep rubbing Johnny's back. I woke up disgruntled because I still had to floss, brush my teeth, and wash my face. I dragged myself out of bed, did so, then whispered to Johnny as he neared sleep, "Hey, I'm just going to read a few pages." He must tire of hearing that very sentence. I propped my cylinder-shaped, husk-filled, blue-silk Asian pillow under my head - my reading pillow. I discovered Miss Lipsett joined a women's fiction reading group in the 60's. One of Miss Lipsett's favorite books was "A Room of One's Own" by Virginia Woolf. Lipsett breathlessly printed a passage from "A Room of One's Own" in which Woolf wrote about Shakespeare's sister who died young, yet of course she would have been the greater poet because she was a woman. And Woolf said, "Now my belief is that this poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the crossroads still lives. She lives in you and in me, and in many other women who are not here tonight, for they are washing up the dishes and putting the children to bed."
I will limit my comments until I have actually read "A Room of One's Own" in its entirety. Yet, it seems that Miss Woolf cast a negative light on those women cleaning dishes and putting their kids to bed. In rebellion today I happily cleaned off dishes and prayed for healthy children to bear from my womb, as I often pray. Is there something wrong with that? Can I not be a good wife and mother and also a good writer? Must I selfishly shut myself in a room of solitude day in and day out in order to write well? Sure, it might be easier that way but God doesn't call us to an easy life. I know without a doubt I am called to be a writer of some sort. A few pages before Lipsett printed this passage, she stated, "........if I failed to become a writer, my life would have been a waste." I know exactly, 100% what she means. My life will have been a waste, though, because I would have disobeyed my Lord God and wasted a talent He put within me to develop. He is also the designer of marriage, a blessing I know of firsthand. Johnny and I pray to have children one day. Yet I still plan to write. Will it be hard? Yes. Will I be distracted? Yes. I even asked Johnny, "Do you think we can do it?" He said, "Yes. Example: Calvin and Genevieve, go play, read, or write. Your mom needs to write for an hour/I need to practice drums." Will I have to sacrifice perhaps months or more when they are babies? I'm sure I will. I close with a quote from Suzanne M. Wolfe, wife of Gregory Wolfe, the editor of one of my favorite publications, "Image: Journal of the Arts and Religion." She recently published a book I MUST read titled "Unveiling." In an interview with Paraclete Press they asked her, "How long did it take you to write this novel?
Suzanne: I began writing it almost 10 years ago when my 3 oldest children were 8 and under. Caring for my children and teaching senior high school literature during the day necessitated my working at night when my kids were in bed and I had finished my assignments for school. Thus, I mostly wrote between midnight and 3 am, getting up at 7 am, teaching until 1 pm and then doing the mom thing until the cycle repeated itself!"
Hail to one of my new role models. I plan to be Johnny's wife and our kids' mom. I will read, write, and homeschool our kids along with Johnny. This life is meant to be lived for and through Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Life is full and spilling over, replete with joy and suffering, hard work and rest. I'm not going to miss it all my shutting myself in a room. As life grows more complicated from a human perspective, I predict God will inspire many words.