Y'all. This is embarrassing. My last post was April 3, 2015.
In case you weren't aware, it's February 2016. Ack ack ick. 14-year-old blogging Claire (who blogged an average of five times a day) would be very disappointed in 28-year-old not-blogging Claire.
But, 14-year-old self (and everyone else), can we back up so I can tell you what's been going on and give you an idea of just WHY I haven't blogged for ten whole months?
First and foremost, #MFAlife. #amwriting. (14-year-old self would not understand why I'm attaching the number sign to words. Sometimes 28-year-old self does not understand either. Le sigh.) In other words, 2002 Claire, future you got a Masters of Fine Arts degree in creative writing. And the last year of this program took up a LOT of time. Like, a lot. Time that I didn't really have to begin with and so would squeeze hurried and harried into Saturdays and Sundays and sometimes late weeknights while Sean slept. Reading and underlining books shakily on the bus to and from work, closing my eyes to delve and dive into the last 18 months of my life so that I could emerge with something... and I did! I wrote a book, a manuscript draft. It exists, I printed it out (multiple times), I read from it in front of a bunch of people (including the people I was writing about), I gave a graduation speech and got a new diploma and an alumni pin. But all of that just wound down in the last month, and so I'm still adjusting to having writing time on my hands that doesn't have to do with deadlines.
I've been teaching, too, which began as a requirement for my degree and has become a fun, challenging and rewarding addition to my life. I feel constantly amazed by all I've actually learned/read/experienced in the past 5-10 years to be able to do this, and very glad that the folks who come to my classes seem to leave feeling inspired - and then return the next week! Some parts still feel quite experimental, but I'm excited to continue on the journey and see where it leads.
So those are my two biggest excuses, middle school Claire, for having gone my longest stint ever without blogging since the eighth grade. And then of course there's everything in between - the most important people, the full-time job, the early bedtimes and occasional (...) TV binges. For the first time in a long time, I've lived life without writing about it simultaneously. Even on paper, the everyday has gone unchecked. (I read Sarah Manguso's Ongoingness: The End of a Diary with rapt fascination, hearing myself and not-myself on every page.)
But then the other morning - not surprisingly, a day or two after my writing group and I had done ten minutes of free writing on a prompt - I switched my electric tea kettle to "on," and something clicked on within me. "I'll just write until the water boils," I thought, grabbing the most recent blank journal I'd tried unsuccessfully to jump start.
And there it went. The words, again.
It was lovely to write with a deadline - until the water boils! - about nothing and everything. I tried not to monitor what appeared messily on the page, and much of it was mundane, but it felt so good to write and not try and make it deep and sweeping. I liked seeing my handwriting on the page again, even when my hand started to ache from lack of practice.
I got a couple of pages down and then the kettle clicked and I closed the book, got up, filled my mug with English Breakfast and skim milk, poured a bowl of dry Honey Nut Cheerios, sliced up a pear and spread my toast with peanut butter. Turned on NPR.
The day was beginning, but not before I had begun myself. And while I have enjoyed living life without writing about it, finding that to be a mixture of outwardly relaxed and inwardly tense (or inwardly relaxed and outwardly tense?), I am excited to have the time to return. No, to MAKE the time to return.
So I'm back. Choosing life, and writing. Writing, and life. For myself and for you, whoever you may be. And I hope you'll come along for the ride, wherever it goes next.