Recently, our two grandchildren, Maren (11) and Peter (6) stayed with us for the weekend while Mom and Dad were out of town. On Saturday Peter was busy with a soccer game and a birthday party, but Maren had unscheduled time. She slept late, which was not surprising given her new earlier school start time, but the rest of the day was open. I thought about things she might like to do while Peter and Papa were gone and had also told her she could get together with friends at our house or I would take her wherever she wanted to go. What she chose, however, was to stay here, sit at the dining room table and write.
She and a good friend are writing a book, and each time they get together they write, fully collaborating on the characters, plot, and setting. They have filled notebooks with this project and now are transcribing it to the computer. That's what Maren wanted to do on a gorgeous fall day, a weekend day, a free day. Write. Work on her book.
I had intended to spend the afternoon reading and maybe taking a nap, but how could I, supposedly a writer, who says I never have enough time to write, not be challenged by, inspired by my granddaughter's discipline and enthusiasm and belief in her work. I retreated to my office and yes, I, too, wrote.
Maren is now at an age when being with her friends is much higher on her list of priorities and being with GrandNan is much lower. I get it. That's normal and healthy, but I miss her. Therefore, this summer I thought about ways I could spend time with her and have it be a win-win situation. The first key was to include one of her friends in our activities and outings, and the second key was to do something we would all enjoy. I thought about how I could share myself with her in a way that would be meaningful--and fun for her. Writing time! I write. Maren and her buddy Lily write, and, in fact, we each view writing as a valuable and pleasurable activity, so why not do it together?
With permission and encouragement from the Moms I planned three writing times for the three of us during the summer. Two half days and one all day writing marathon. My goal was to support and reinforce their writing interest and energy, but what I didn't realize is that our time together would reinforce and support me as a writer, as well. We were writers writing together. I provided some structure and ideas and facilitated our time, but those writing times were for me as much as for them. We talked about what it means to be a writer and how to practice our craft and what our hopes and dreams for our writing might be. And we wrote. And we read aloud what we wrote, hearing our own words as they hit someone else's ears. And we wrote some more.
I am taking a challenging online writing course right now, which I hope will push me forward on a big and nebulous writing project, a book I am having a hard time getting my arms around. I am struggling and anxious about it, yearning to do it and yet at the same time resisting the commitment I know it will take for completion. My vision keeps shifting. I am unclear, and I have no idea what this book will become.
What I have, however, is the memory of sitting with two lovely young women, excited and eager and trusting, and fully believing they will finish their book and it will be published some day. They are writers, and they remind me that I am, too. Who knows what else they will be as they move through the years, but their passion is a lesson for me -- to know what I love to do and to do it. Now.
Maren was so happy, by the way, with all she accomplished that day as she sat at our dining room table. I was just as happy sitting at my desk in the garret writing, knowing we were both engrossed in one of our loves.
What is it you love to do, but don't make room for in your life? Is there a way to share what you love to do with someone else, especially someone else who might just turn out to be your teacher or collaborator? I would love to know