Karen Rivers

inside, outside, upside down

Karen Rivers

Lately I've been writing blog posts in my head while I walk in my woods.  I write them, turn them over, test each phrase carefully.  But it isn't writing because I never come home and type them up.  I come home and take a bath, then return to my novel, carefully chiselling out of a huge manuscript what will eventually become a smaller novel.  I feel like I've been doing a lot of things backwards, this book being one of them, a huge behemouth of a book that will perhaps be one of the shorter books I've written, once it is done.

I don't know how it got so big and unruly, the plot points unravelling to infinite points, nothing resolving, just wandering off further and further until you lose sight of it in the distance.

So maybe -- because I think everything is a metaphor -- this is me, also, pulling myself in.  Reining in the infinite possibilities of everything and honing in on the ones that matter.

Or finding the ones that matter.

What I mean is that I don't know how much blogging matters to me right now.  I had so much to say about the angry, hostile lady who took the kids' ornaments, how I met her, and how she said to me, positively dripping with vitriol -- "I can see why your husband left you".  (Because I am the type of woman who allows my kids to decorate wild trees, hidden in the woods?)  I had so much to say about how I tried so hard to find a lesson in her anger and her hatred and her rage, but I couldn't.

And then, when it came time to write it down, I just ran out of steam.  I tried to grab hold of what I felt, standing at the precipice with this tiny angry woman, throwing the bag of ornaments at my feet, but it was gone.  I felt nothing but sad for her, for whatever happened to her that made her see only the ugliness in everything.

I've been seeing some of my favourite blogs disappearing, the effort poured into them slowing to a trickle.  And that feels right, too.   A turning back towards another kind of life, one that is lived for oneself and not outward facing:  Eating meals that you've made and not photographed and shared.   Laughing with friends without photographing them and uploading the moment to Facebook.  Having a thought and, instead of tweeting it, just saying it out loud to the real life person who is in the room with you.

Is anyone else here?  Seeming at a crossroads where suddenly the internet seems too small, like my daughter's red boots that she can no longer quite jam her feet into?  And then the realization of wait, stop.  I don't need to do this.  This is not what I need right now.  I don't need to wear this red boot, funnelling my every thought into it, stuffing it full of my feelings, my precious feelings threatening to become bigger than what they are by writing them down.  By giving them more credence than they need.

I don't need that right now.

I did.  It's true that I did.

It helped, of course, during the worst parts of the divorce, to just say it to someone -- to everyone really -- that this raw, unfiltered life was being felt.   Look.  Look at my blisters.  Look at how much it hurts.  Look at what happened to me, to us.  LOOK.

But now.  Well, now.

Now I am feeling like I just want to walk in the woods.  Still.  Again.  

I need to pour my energies into my three unfinished WIPs.  I need to settle on a new agent.  I need to move forward with the business of my job and my life.   I need to stop wimpering in the corner, lick my wounds -- which have mostly healed by now, it's been a long time -- and reform as someone I was before and am now, again.  The same, only different.  In some ways stronger, yes.  In other ways more vulnerable, sure.  Just human, like all of us, like everyone.

Like the angry woman on the mountain, like my ex, like all the people who have inflicted damage without knowing, like all the people who have been there.  Like friends.

Like you.

(I am also -- and this may be more the crux of it -- trying to save some of my feelings about writing, about love, about bravery, about life -- for another project that I'm working on, one that may never see the light of day, but I hope -- oh how much I hope -- that it does.  Is there such a thing as giving away too much?)  

So I am stepping back.  Not all the way, but a little.  Inhabiting my life, like I said in the last post.

I am going to finish these WIPs.

I am going to hand-train my birds.

I am going to fix my garden.

I am going to (maybe) get a job, or at least line up more work.  

I am going to find a way to better support this life -- this amazing, wonderful life -- that I have.

I am going to watch my kids who are becoming increasingly older at an exponential rate, growing out of their needs and wants and reminding me daily with their strength and abilities of the temporariness of parenthood.   Of how, one minute, you are shouting at them to be quiet because you have to work and the next, they are gone anyway, and there is nothing around you but the still air of your empty house, disturbed only by you.   And you, alone.  They won't be yours forever, these awkward arms legs hearts brains needs, so make sure you aren't looking away during the best bits.

I need to stop looking away from everything else and just stop.  Stop focussing on the screen, the hits, the counters, the measurements of relative success.  And be present. That's all I mean by this, it just took me two blog posts to say it.