Wednesday, April 25, 2007

In which I gush, frankly. And voice confusion.

Why is it easier to write about whatever is going wrong in life?

Floating like scum on the surface of my life are a lot of complaints. Too tired, not enough time, writing goes poorly, etc etc and endless so forth. It’s easy, and shallow, and fills up the morning pages.

But it’s not even close to the deepest truth. The truth, dear reader, is that I am in love. Deliriously in love. With my little Madam. It’s so difficult for me to write about her without sounding maudlin. I’m struck dumb by her. Both TEG and I are. We say that we’re “besotted” which is exactly right, as it evokes two swains jockeying to present tributes to their fair lass. I watch the way the sunlight plays in her curly hair, the way her small hand turns the pages of her books so deftly. I'm fascinated by her beauty--she looks nothing like TEG and I, and yet, it's obvious that she's our child. I have the urge to take little nibbles of her, to consume her, to carry some essence of her inside of me again.

It amazes me that I can spend all day walking and playing with someone under two and find such pleasure in it. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of us in a store mirror, walking side by side, and I feel as though I’m expanding into some greater version of myself. I’m not such a good person that I deserve her.

And who else knows that we NEVER EVER pass a bookstore without going inside?

Not to say that it’s always perfection—she IS a toddler, after all, and has more than her share of toddler moments and tantrums. But, oh, the joy she brings to me keeps me in a haze of love for her.

Today, we went to our first toddler/mommy class. It was fascinating to watch all of the little ids negotiate such difficult (and counterintuitive) tasks as sharing, waiting. Patience. Madam struggled with these, as did all of the other children. But, once she was comfortable, I was able to step into the background and watch her labor with the slide (and triumph). I was able to see her clap and cheer for the other children who went down the slide, because, hey, slides are FUN whether you are the actor or spectator, apparently. It filled me with a feeling that I couldn’t quite name for a moment. Then it occurred to me. Hope. Being a mother is something I never thought I would be…I never thought I would WANT it, honestly. But being a mother has reintroduced me to hope. And I am so grateful.

So, like I said, maudlin. Apologies all around. But it needed to be said. I never knew I was capable of this—of this maturity, of this resourcefulness, of this pleasure. And it’s all because of her.

The other day, after yet another bookstore adventure (Madam made me go inside, I swear, I was going to go past it), I bought a few books. Feeling the need to confess, I called Jessie. She and I have a bit of a running joke that certain books will “save” us. The thing is, I DO think I believe that, at least a little bit. How else to explain that breath-catching little frission of excitement that comes over me when I see a new book that seems to promise a lesson that I’d otherwise have to wait my whole life to learn?

Not surprisingly, most of these books are writing books. And not surprisingly, they tend to lose their magic powers as soon as they enter my house and reunite with all of their writing book brethren.

I’m especially susceptible to this phenomena lately, because the novel has ground to a slow drag. I can’t seem to remember what excited me about my main character to begin with, and I’m firmly mired in the muck of the Middle.

This wonderful post likens the rewriting process to the seven stages of grief. Even though I'm still in the first draft stage, I could see the wisdom in that.

Writers, artists, lend me your tips. How do you jumpstart a stalled project?
Madam will have her speech evaluation on Friday. Wish us luck, please. I'm so nervous.



Anonymous Emmie (Better Make It A Double) said...

Gush away! Did you ever go check out Her Bad Mothers blog roundup on Mother Love?

It was great to see you at class yesterday - I thought Madam did just great. All kids (mine included, as you saw) have fits and even full blown tantrums there on occasion, but she seemed to genuinely enjoy herself quite a bit of the time. It's a lot to ask - the lines, the group activities. Frankly, I'm not so hot at that stuff myself, so I'm always so impressed by these little ones! I have zero advice on the novel, but I'm most impressed that you're attempting to write one with no naptime and little help. I can't even seem to read a serious book these days. Right now I'm reading "Keeping Chickens".

8:32 AM, April 26, 2007  
Blogger Leah said...

i think it's awesome to hear how wonderful mommyhood is for you! love it! it makes me excited about being a mom someday too.

as for the writing. well, i'm not a writer, so this may or may not apply. but if a piece of art just stalls there could be a few things going on...i could be just procrastinating and losing my connection with it or something could just be going wrong with it and i know how much work will go into fixing it or that i may need to scrap most of it all together and i don't want to face that, so i just avoid it.

i usually will take a step back from it a little bit and work on something else, so that i can come back with fresh eyes. if the problem is just that it's not working then, yeah, i have to go through those stages of grief which for me work through denial, annoyance, frustration, and then acceptance. And then if I can accept that things may change very drastically and that i might wreck it all in the trying, then i can get back to it. I have to be willing to fail though to move forward, if i'm trying not to ruin it, i get stuck.

and if it's not that it needs to be re-worked and i'm just procrastinating, sometimes it helps to warm up with some silly light piece of art, something small to get me going and then just jump back in. And I always feel better once I get going. :-)

sorry for that rediculously long comment! best of luck to you!

11:11 AM, April 26, 2007  
Blogger Earnest and Game: Heather said...

Good luck with the speech eval-la petite madame seems happy and in tune with her surroundings; sometimes it just takes time to become who we are, n'est ce pas? Sending you all good thoughts, Heather

1:02 PM, April 26, 2007  
Blogger Tori said...

What a beautiful tribute to your daughter.
Pure, pure love.

6:11 PM, April 26, 2007  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

Not maudlin at all, but almost exactly how I feel about my boy .. i could eat him up too. I am overwhelmed everyday by his gorgeousness; and I never thought that I was fussed about having kids, kind of take it or leave it.

Being a mother changed me in ways I could never have imagined. Motherhood is awesome!

Thank you for sharing this post, it has meant the world to me, that I am not alone in being besotted

3:05 PM, April 27, 2007  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

P.S. I remember J.C. writing some suggestions for stuck work, which may help:

Basically the idea was to do a pile of mending, make soup, clean, do the weeding, put the laundry away, put the house straight etc... That by putting other things 'right' in our lives, by doing the mending, we mend our stuck project. I tried it, with skepticism, and it worked for me, in some weird way.

Good Luck, Lizzi

3:11 PM, April 27, 2007  
Blogger bee said...

wow. mardou, i read this yesterday and didn't have adequate words to express how i felt and i still don't think i do. this post floored me with how honest and real and beautiful it was...yet you were able to show the "flaws", too... *weep*

as for the novel...the first thing i can think of is to STOP writing from the plot you have in your head. take a few days off and write from different perspectives. write character sketches, write a scene from the perspective of the bedside lamp, you know? if this is something you've already tried, then let me know via email and i'll keep helping you brainstorm.


4:52 PM, April 27, 2007  
Blogger Melba said...

When I hear how much a parent; especially a mother, loves her child...I get so excited! Yes! That child will be loved! because it is sad that there are so many lovable (as we all are!) unloved children in the world.
My Maggie and Ethan both make me swoon at times!

It is Friday so I hope all did go well with Madam's Speech meeting.


9:31 PM, April 27, 2007  
Blogger Jessie said...

oh yay!!! i loved reading this post and i love it when you go maudlin over madame (although you don't actually come across that way at all!), and most of all i love running in to the two of you OUTSIDE OF THE BOOKSTORE (!) on such a fabulously sunny day.

i love you, dear m. and you've made me smile, not once, but TWICE today!

i am in love with madame too. i hope that's alright. i can't help it! :)

10:43 PM, April 28, 2007  
Anonymous Frida said...

i sudden;y think that what i think maudlin means must be something different from what it means, because I didn't find that maudlin at all. I loved it, hope is precious and if your madam generates it in you then she is a miracle worker.

iget stuck on very different sotrs of projects and find that i have sometimes have to come at them from a totally different perspective (stop thinking of this as a workshop for police about violence against women and start thinking of this as a time to learn about a community dealing with 30 years of violence-related trauma) I have to ask new and different questions, and actually sit still and quiet long enough to hear the new and different answers.


9:05 AM, April 29, 2007  
Blogger Tinker said...

I LOVE maudlin posts, about mom's who are besotted with their children - it gives me hope for the world.

As for being stuck, the only way I've tricked myself back into writing about a character or plotline I've gotten stuck on or bored with, is to start writing about a different character/novel - suddenly, THEN the first set of characters all want to talk again and give me plot ideas for THEIR novel, once I'm writing about another set. Fickle creatures.

But then I don't know how valuable my advice is - I still haven't finished either one of them!

7:14 PM, April 30, 2007  
Blogger Amber said...

"a haze of love for her". -- This is perfect. I swear I feel this way too. Sometimes I catch myself just thinking what a CRUSH I have on my little chickie. An actual crush that sits in my gut like I am a dorky sixth grader. And when Wyatt was little, before I had G, a couple of old people once came up to me in a store and told me they had never seen a mom look at her baby with such open adoration! LOL! i guess I am very obvious. But he IS very lovely. ;)

So you are not alone! Love her up!


11:07 PM, May 01, 2007  

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