I don’t write to be famous, I don’t write to be known, I write because I am and I want to be read. How sad to fill a room with paintings no one sees or play music no one hears. Writing is talking without sound, singing without score and dancing without movement and yet, it is all of them. It is a solitary art conjured from thought and expressed by the need to communicate.

HEAD SLAPS, SPEED BUMPS and LIGHTBULBS, one woman's WTF, oops and ah-ha moments of life.

They were published once, and as every writer knows, once is not enough.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A view from sea-level and above

View from a kite.
I live on a hill, two hundred feet above sea level. Doesn’t sound like a lot of elevation but along the coast of Connecticut, two hundred feet up is a big deal. We live in the woods up here at the end of a winding one-thousand foot gravel driveway. It is quiet and beyond peaceful. The trees around our house are so thick, that in order to see Long Island Sound, I’d have to mount a twelve foot step-ladder on the highest peak of my roof now, mid-winter, when there are no leaves on the trees.

A half mile from my house there is a road, which because of its acclimation (few trees) and elevation (same as us) affords locals a blue-strip view of the Sound way off in the distance. 

Our beach and the jetty at low tide.
In the summertime my husband and I drive to the town beach almost every night after dinner. Sometimes we get take-out, park by the water and enjoy dinner right there, sharing crumbs with the gulls which parade the parking lot. 

I love where I live and I love how I live. I have been blessed with good health and a Capraesque existence I simply describe as A Wonderful Life.

Some would call me privileged, I am not. In the sense that fate has smiled on me, yes I am, but my husband and I, and our parents, and their parents, all the way back to the late 1500’s when they came over here, have worked damned hard for every single roof shingle over our heads and every morsel on our plates. We struggle week to week and yet I’d call us an American Success story. Our middle of the spectrum wealth can be defined in hours worked, good choices made and with an abiding faith in our government, ourselves, a higher power and luck.

My good life didn’t come easily. My good life wasn’t handed to me by parents who had nothing better to do than leave me more than what they could spend in their lifetimes. My good life came with struggle, dark times and payments made with chits printed with the word ‘why’ all over them. My good life wasn’t always good.

For almost thirty years I’ve been writing about ‘me’, my opinions, my triumphs, my failures, my dreams both good and bad. Oddly enough, folks have wanted to read what I’ve written. Editors have kindly put my words out there, I guess, because they believed my life experience has value and I am able to communicate that, in a general way. I am constantly amazed by how much we all have in common.

At the request of some of my readers, and especially because of my family, I am in the process of compiling about a hundred of my op-eds, essays and columns in a book. I have written many times about this project. Always, it seems, when I work on it I wonder, who in their right mind would want to read about my simple, yet blessed life. I am a nobody with a postage stamp sized platform. Lining up my life via a group of essays seemed pointless until January 17th of this year. That’s when my audience grew by one, my first grandchild was born.

I won’t go into the wonderfulness of that moment right now because a lot of my columns will be devoted to our granddaughter and what’s it’s like to experience the joy of our diluted DNA. But what I will say is that the recurrent theme of age vs. time left is a daily reminder that the little girl born a wink-ago will never really know me unless I put all the words together, just for her. 

The revelation came quite recently that this collection of published work, along with the force, fall-out and transitioning of thought between pieces, is actually a memoir. 

A memoir?
Me, writing a memoir?
You mean, all along while I’ve been stitching together my writings into a quilt blanketing my life, it’s been a memoir? Yea, I guess it has. My target audience, one.

This will not be a squishy plastic bath-book or a shiny thick-paged cardboard bed-time read for a toddler. It’s for the grown-up girl who may decide someday to finally read that book her Nana put together. I can say with confidence that she and every single person who chooses to scan the contents, will be able to at least find one, out of the one-hundred, that will give her, and them, a head-slap, speed-bump, or light-bulb moment.

On January 17th this project took a turn, from a list of thoughts and considerations, to a mindful portrayal of one’s life; produced by time, directed by life and with the most famous and allusive character of all, truth.

So...here I sit, in my house on the hill, the rock walls peeking out from under a carpet of snow and the trees barely dusted by white. Maybe we’ll take a ride to the snow covered beach today, park at the edge of the blue, count gulls and throw crumbs. The sun is shining, it would be a good day for that.

Who would you write your memoir for?

1 comment:

  1. Just wanted to add that as I sit here on a rare morning off from work, I am shuffling through a quarter century's worth of what went on in my head, got penned and published. I'm seeking arc and order out of a spectrum's worth of thought process.

    It's snowing again. Flakes flash by my window and across the clearing leading to the woods, and then they slow and settle in a soft fall to the blanket already covering the ground. This is a good day, a very good day indeed.