I’m sitting in my new Writer’s Turret, as I am calling it. It’s actually just a small room we recently created by putting up a dividing wall in our son’s large bedroom. It is a north-facing room and I was concerned that I would feel the lack of light. But with my desk directly next to the window, looking out over the porch roof onto our residential street, the result is unexpectedly and pleasantly, well, turret-y. I don’t know why I have always fancied myself writing in a turret, it seems very Jane Austen (that’s probably the wrong author – I am embarrassingly unversed in English Lit) or Shakespeare-ish, I guess. I imagined I could be both artistically tortured and prolific in a turret. And alone.
For me, the image of a turret conquers up feelings – glorious feelings – of solitude. Creative solitude. I dream daily of being alone, just me and my words. Emotions, sensations, experiences – intangibles – forming themselves into words and sentences that I might grasp them, hold them, and understand them as best I can. Of course, I don’t need a turret for this, just a writing implement. But solitude? Now that’s an essential.
In one essay I wrote: “In my early twenties the vision of my future life included only the patter of fingers on the keyboard, not that of tiny feet. My imaginary writer’s turret didn’t come equipped with a safety gate.” In one recent workshop which I facilitated, one woman lamented that mothers cannot be fully creative, not because our brains have atrophied, but because of all the demands placed on us. Sadly, unless we can afford, or would be willing to commit to, full-time child-care and/or house-keeping, a mother does not have the luxury to create at her fullest potential. Even with my children out of the home to their respective educational institutions either 3 or 6 hours a day, I find my ability to write (or study for grad school) hampered. I have tried rising extremely early (4AM) and I loved the mental acuity of that time of day. But by Wednesday evening after all the housework, sibling-refereeing, taxiing, errands, etc. etc. etc., I wasn’t fit to be anyone’s mother or companion, let alone write.
I’m not good at grabbing moments. I’m a slow writer. I ponder each word and then go back and ponder it again. This analyzing (self-criticism?) can make a short blog post last the entire length of a Pre-K session. Suddenly I am having to abandon my treasure-trunk of words, ripping myself away mid-sentence to fly out the door to become Mom again. And take today: I have the flu (or something else icky but not bed-riddening). I am home with no demands for the day because after Pre-K my mother (bless her) is taking my son. But Hubby asked that we use this opportunity to do some important paperwork. So I delayed my writing, but then the phone rang and I sat for almost an hour waiting for him to get off the phone. (You know that infuriating situation when you’re meeting someone who’s late and you don’t know whether to leave because they might come right now… or maybe now…? Waiting for him to get off the phone any moment was like that.)
And so goes my life, it seems. I want to write, I love to write, I need to write, but I don’t write (much). I have responsibilities and always the question: should I be doing this or that? what is more important – the clothes or the blog post? And it is this constant questioning – deciding – that is part of the mental exhaustion (links to a NYT article). I love writing so much that I want to dedicate myself to it fully, not some half-hearted minute or two here and there, and so I don’t commit, because I can’t.
But I must. Because by not writing I am forsaking my own soul. My vision of a writer’s turret was just a symbol of my highest need: To be alone with “pen” in hand, scratching away, whittling words – the only tools I have – to make sense of my self and this world.
My turret is finally here. And today is “I Love to Write Day” and I do. So I am. And I will. Will you?
(And as I finish writing this I see this post on FB from Julia Cameron: “Time is what we all need more of–or do we? Time can be chiseled out of the busiest life by replacing our worrying with doing.” Ah, Synchronicity.)
Prompt: If we believe our visions and imaginings are symbols of deep (or higher) yearnings – from our authentic self – what is your “turret”?