Sometimes, a lot of times, no, most days, I don’t want to write. I know it may sound strange since I’ve known I was a writer since the 3rd grade and Miss Maxine Way at Beryl Heights Elementary School pronounced in her Southern drawl, “Janet, you have a way with words.” But it’s true. I would rather clean the house, watch ridiculous YouTube videos than sit down in front of computer screen, or even my beloved paper journal, and write.
It’s not because writing is a chore, although sometimes it might feel like it. It’s because writing is bleeding.
But writing is also discovering and tinkering and growing into a more introspective, soulfully connected person.
Writing at its most profound, most potential level, is about rolling up your sleeves and getting down-and-dirty naked with The Truth. Fluff is cool and mostly where I start, where I’m comfortable, but it’s not the big fish I’m trying to catch and release. From what I have encountered after 59 years of journaling—-whew!—-is that the best stuff creeps up on you toward the end of your session, that you have to put pen to paper, fingers to the keyboard, for about 30 minutes or more several times a week, so that you hard-wire the absolutely true, almost magical experience of the revelation of IMPORTANT STUFF. When you are done writing, you step back and say, “Wow, where was that hiding?” To me, and other writers I admire, this is why we write even though it can be hard to start, even though we can think of every excuse in the world not to start, even though we’re scared of what we may or may not discover.
I am camping at my favorite spot along the Central Coast. I’ve been camping here for 30 years. For the first leg of my journey I’m solo exploring, with the exception of my cattle dog traveling partner, Miss Monet. I talk to myself outloud, play with paints, go for hikes, eat healthy foods, listen to music, sing really loud and off-key, talk to strangers, read and read and read, but ever-looming in my stash of creative distractions is my journal. My job. My purpose. My key. My connection to my deepest self, the one that is pretty and young, ugly, old, distortive, imaginative, playful, angry, sad, confused, hopeful, confident, cranky and loathsome. I am every character in every Disney movie. I am the soundtrack and the animation. I am Cruella and Snow White. I am 2022 inflation and Canada’s universal medical care. I am the President of the United States and I’m his basement custodian. Journaling reveals the whole kit and caboodle of my foibles and strengths and sieves out the icky and productive compost in my noble attempt to be my best self.
So here it goes:
I am scared.
I put my beloved house on the market two days ago. I set a high bar regarding the dollar amount I need to walk away with: After taxes, commissions, etc., it makes no sense to sell unless I have ample money to build a new life. Better I rent it out for a few years. But somehow, someway, I need to get the footloose and fancyfree travel bug out of my system.
I have been hemming and hawing about whether I should or shouldn’t sell for years now. It’s not that I don’t love my home. It’s a treasure, the site of so many, many memories that scroll through my mind like the rewind button on an old video machine. I love what I’ve done, what I could afford to do, what I had the limited skills to accomplish, but I’ve reached a phase of my life that I don’t want to be responsible any more. I don’t want house-caretaking to take up my days. I want to live an adventure. Like I am right now as potential buyers make appointments to thumbs up or thumbs down the “prized beach property”. I realize, given my lack of financial resources, I’ve done as much as I can to Angel Cove Cottage. I don’t have the funds to push her to the next level. Fixi the staircase. Remodel The Cave. Tear out the firepit and rethink the backyard corral that was never built to my satisfaction. Without a second income, such renovations aren’t possible.
But frankly, even if I had the money, I realize it’s time for a change. Time to do something new to keep myself fresh. I need to be a bit scared, I need to not play it safe all the time.
So now that I’ve written it down and shared it, it’s real. It’s happening. Or not. Either way, I’m good. Because at least I took a chance. At least I stopped contemplating an idea that’s been swimming in my head for a long time. I stepped into a new beginning.
“14 Summers”. That’s the title of the book I’m about to start writing.
If I have the good fortune of living to 80, that means I have 14 summers left. 14 is my grandson Jack in four years. Bronson in six. Millie in 12. Hudson in 13.5. How would a woman—me–use her time if she didn’t have to waste?