I could change my name to "scattered and random" these days as a good portion of (what's left of) my brain is currently consumed with my trip to Europe coming up in, count 'em, 10 days. Living my calm (some would say stagnant), peaceful, hermit-like life, it's unusual when I have to juggle and balance several concerns at once, as does nearly everyone else in America, and I've pretty much lost the ability to multitask.
So, thank God for LISTS. Thank God for new notebooks full of white, lined pages and for red and black Papermate markers. (I'm convinced God had these same accessories during the frenetic days of Creation. "1) Big Bang. 2) Basic Elements. 3) Gravity, Time. 4) Stars, planets & moons. 5) DNA. 6) Don't forget porpoises and pandas....")
My addiction to lists is even more serious than my addiction to salt -- I can still hear my kids' groans when they found on the refrigerator one more interminable note of STUFF TO DO BEFORE YOU WATCH TV. I tortured them with lists then, and I still do through email today. I'm not sorry. Lists are GOOD.
I have more cross-outs on my Europe list now than things left to do, which is both a relief and a tangible record of progress. (Shirley, I'm not the only listmaniac to record a task that's already been accomplished just for the pleasure of crossing it off...)
One of the list items was "Borders - new books to take" since there will be 28 hours of flying and 8 hours of waiting, round trip. (Yikes! I wish I hadn't just typed that.) The book store item has been crossed off and rewritten since I cheated and devoured two of the books I'd planned to take. I recommend them to anyone who adores beautiful, sensitive writing, although, to be honest, they're both girlie books. The author is Sue Monk Kidd and the books are "The Secret Life Of Bees" and "The Mermaid Chair."
I've thought of myself as "a writer" since early childhood. It's been my primary identity in my family, and most of my teachers encouraged my efforts. I've always been able to effortlessly string words together in a reasonably coherent way, and years ago the stringing together was fairly creative. Oh, how I wanted to write science fiction novels -- where earthbound limits just didn't exist and imagination ran free. Then I discovered that 'science fiction' is a two-part phrase, and the science part doesn't just matter -- the science part is critical. While I loved science then, and still do, it requires both discipline and mathematics, neither of which I count among my virtues, talents or abilities. It's no coincidence that my physics, chemistry and math teachers were first among those who encouraged me to write.
I wrote an epic coming-of-age, confessional novel when I was 21 and burned it, unpublished, at 32. It was around the time I finished the novel that I realized I just had nothing important to say. Well, really, who does at 21? But unlike other wannabe writers I knew at that time, I wasn't burning to tell the world my unique vision of anything. There was no Hemingway or Faulkner crouching in my head, no suffering Virginia Woolf clamoring inside to be freed, to be given a voice. Or if there was, I was too clueless to know. Even now, when my lifetime of experience should indicate that I have something valuable to say, I still don't feel I do -- at least, nothing that I could bear to share or that anyone would care to read.
So, it amazes me when I run across a writer like Sue Monk Kidd who definitely has both aspects wrapped up -- important commentary on the human condition, told through evocative, hauntingly beautiful language. So much of contemporary fiction, in my opinion, has one or the other but rarely both. I think I still have time to order the rest of her books from Amazon, maybe along with a new book by Isabelle Allende. Hopefully, Amazon will time their delivery so I won't be tempted to read them all before I leave. (36 hours traveling.... my God!)
As for me, I'll continue to satisfy my writing compulsion with this blog.... and I'm ever so grateful that Al Gore had "Invent Internet" on his To-Do List.