Writer’s block isn’t real. Well, then, what do I have here? I have a very small world, is what. My world right now is job, home, wrangle with teen (he’s been 16 for a month, and the surly switch flipped), talk to my husband on the phone, and… and big old mental blank. My world has gotten more constricted, and I can only hope it’s temporary. I’ve been at the new job for a month. Friday was my last day of training, and after this it’s all me, only me. Not the first time I’ve had a job with a lot of responsibility – I’ve owned my own business, and I don’t mean just Sanderley Studios – but it’s never easy.
I’m hoping, and friends are encouraging me, that once I’ve settled into the new role, and learned to balance the research (it keeps wanting to follow me home, but I’m not salaried (yet) so I’m resisting those urges) that I’ll find time to write. It’s been four months since I got down here to Texas, and I’ve been having a good time, coping with all the changes… and not writing. A little, here and there. Blink, and you’ll miss it. I haven’t even been blogging, because so much of my brain is locked up around work and I can’t talk about that in detail. I could bit… er, complain about the trials of trying to get a house on the market when evidently nobody wants to work. I’ve been trying to spare everyone the whining, though.
It’s the little things that upset my equilibrium right now, and that annoys me, which doesn’t make it easier, which is a vicious cycle and I know it. I need to stop pedaling and get off. Last night it was a. not having even one of my sifters (I had two) and b. running out of sugar. Now, I know why I don’t have sugar. I chose not to buy more because we were going low carb. I don’t want to talk about how much weight I’ve gained in the last three months. It seemed like a good idea at the time, right up until I was baking for the writing group, and came up short by a third of a cup.
And there is where I’m going to drive a stake in the ground, tie a ribbon on it, and start looking at the positives. The silver lining in the cloud might be a moonlit mountaintop, yes. Or it might be the joys of cooking and baking for adults instead of my children. Desserts can be less sweet and it will be applauded. We have mature, sophisticated palates (stop laughing, it could be true) and we don’t need the extra sugar anyway. The flour needed sifting not for lumps in modern grinds, but to make it aerated for better mixing into meringue. Weigh it into a bowl and hit it with a balloon whisk, mixing in the cornstarch better.
The cookies turned out perfectly, always a nice thing on a first-time recipe. At this point in my life, when I’ve been baking for four decades, making a recipe sing even while improvising my way around the kitchen isn’t a big deal. I’m only a decade into my writing career. In that time I have moved from New England, to Ohio (where we moved again just three years ago), to Texas. I have graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science (and decent grades, if we pretend Calculus never happened). I have taken on a career, and a month ago landed in a dream job… again. My job title has been ‘Scientist’ fulfilling a childhood dream to become a scientist – that little sun-bleached blonde had no idea what that really meant! – and now it has Research and Development in it. I have ten novels in print, and I’ve lost track of the short works. I wrote a children’s story last year, after years of insisting I couldn’t do that. Three of my children are out of the house, independent, and holding their own. The last one is working hard at getting there. My husband loves me enough to shoulder a massive project and endure a seemingly unending separation from me, while anticipating leaving behind his childhood stomping grounds and parents when that does end.
I’m not good at counting my blessings. I need to get better. I’m realizing, as I write all this out, that it’s not a stake I’ve got here. I’m standing on a hilltop, my hiking stick fluttering next to me, my sunhat hanging down my back, while I’ve got my hands on my hips staring up at the peak in front of me. So high above me. It’s been a long, winding path to get here. I can’t quite make out, for trees and fog, the shape of the journey ahead. What I can do is glance over my shoulder while taking a breather, and appreciate just how high up I’ve come from that starting place. The one where I crawled out of the foul black mud, just ahead of my demons, and belly-crawled until I could stand up on my own. Sure, I’m tired. Still, I have energy. I’m looking forward to taking the next step, and the next…
The writing will come back. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t telling myself stories. I wrote poetry, before fiction. I’ve written essays that changed my life since I was 14. That’s a post for another day and probably not this blog. Heck, this post is writing. Might not be useful to any of you, but it’s letting me get some mess out of my head and sort through it. Kind of like dropping a load of clean laundry on the bed, folding it, and putting it all away neatly. From chaos, wrinkles. From concerted effort, calm.
I miss hiking. Texas summers make that inadvisable, but you know, there’s fall and winter and spring, and adjusting my expectations for the new climate I’m in. Mentally, it’s time for me to take stock for a moment, then take up my staff and…
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!”C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
(Header Image: Fresh, not too sweet, Savoiardi which will go into a tiramisu today)