OMG I haven’t finished anything in 3 years


Exhibit B: so stinking sweet

I mean, I knew how it would be, so I’m not complaining exactly. Maybe lament? Lament is fair, I think.

It just kind of hit me strangely as I was pushing Iris around the block on her scooter, Ollie asleep in his carrier, knowing that with Easter coming up I have a whole string of very long days ahead on the parenting front. Three years is a long time not to finish a project. And I have large chunks of two different books written, so I do actually write. I just can’t sustain anything. Because: colds, babies, laundry, dishes, teething, deprivations both mental and physical.

This was the right time for our kids, and nobody is making me stay home. But life is rarely as black or white as all that.

Sometimes I wonder if I don’t finish things for psychological reasons.

You know, like I’m afraid of failure or afraid of success or afraid of whatever sounds most legit at the time. Pondering my mental health is always a good time, but I don’t really think that has much to do with it.

Or maybe it’s just that writing is hard. Although writing was always hard. And I still finished things before.

Maybe it is kids.

It’s hard to know what to fix sometimes. It’s hard to weigh my kids’ inevitable freak out if I leave the house with my own inevitable freak out if I don’t. Sometimes it all just feels like a lot of freaking out.

A lot of it is not having external deadlines.

On the plus side, it’s given the stories an unusually long time to percolate. And I realized today, somewhere around the block with Iris waving hello to every fire hydrant, that on some deeper, unplanned level one of the stories is about purpose and the other is about happiness, and sometimes my switching between them has nothing to do with unconscious fears of failure and everything to do with the ideas churning up at the time in my own life.

Two of my brothers are writing a collaborative book of essays about our childhood vacations at Disney World, and last week Joel emailed me his latest piece on aesthetic appropriation. You know. The way Disney mimics and recreates other places, and the way we as kids mimicked and recreated Disney in our own stories and ideas about travel and culture. It was an insightful, fun read, but while aesthetic appropriation is obviously huge in anyone’s creativity, I think emotional appropriation is the bigger playground for me.

There is nothing autobiographical about any of my plots, unless you count “and then she grew up” as plot, but the emotional lives of my characters are always very vivid and familiar to me… although, of course, I have varying success getting that on the page. And I think this is why it’s been hard for me to finish anything lately. The equation of very limited time with having two books with such enormous topics—it’s like every day I pull up the lobster trap of my daily experience to see if I’ve got anything useful for either of my works-in-progress, and let me tell you, that is a killer slow way to finish a book.

Or maybe I’m overthinking it and it really isn’t anything more profound than the fact that it’s really hard to write with a baby giggling and farting and fussing on your lap.

I feel like that’s probably fair too.

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On Being a Christian and Being Tired

There are a lot of great things about having kids, but it definitely changes your processing style. Gone are the days of dropping everything to think, research, be angry, stare out windows, figure stuff out.

So, yes.

While the rest of the world moves on to newer news, I’m still mulling over the World Vision decision/retraction news from last week… reading articles and absently passing crackers to Ollie in his highchair while Iris takes large bites straight off a block of cheddar. (Not kidding about any of that, btw).

And I don’t know if this is right, wrong, or ignorant, but given that I only have a limited amount of energy to spend engaging on social media, I generally try to restrict myself to topics where I have some chance of being informed. I know a lot about being female in a Christian fundamentalist world. I know something about abuse and childhood trauma. I have a distant shot at adding to conversations about marriage and kids—if only because that’s my parking space these days. And I don’t know anyone who likes to get contentious about the murder mystery genre, but if that ever comes up in my feed you can bet I’ll be on it like white on rice.

But here’s what I think:

I believe no single group has the right to define what it means to be legally married in a secular country. Honestly, I find it kind of bizarre that this is seen as a debatable issue in our culture, but there you go. Apparently it is.

For people attempting to live out the Christian faith as understood in the Bible, of course, the issue is slightly more complicated. I understand that, because I also tend to take the Bible seriously in my personal life. Which, let’s be honest, is a bit more complicated for women than for men. So I’m used to questioning things and having to find my own way a bit. But I absolutely believe in God. I am blown away by the humanity and deity of Jesus. I have no problem affirming anything in the Apostles’ Creed.

And yet.

This week has worn me out.

I’m tired of being told that love and righteousness are in tension. They’re not.

I’m tired of being told that you can love someone and reject them at the same time. I literally do not understand how that’s supposed to work. (And if I hear the “woman caught in adultery” story one more time on this I will punch you in the face. The next time you save a gay person from being murdered, you just might have the credibility to comment on his life choices.)

I’m tired of seeing the word TRUTH in all caps. Please stop.

I’m tired of the idea that correct beliefs are mandatory while correct actions are optional.

I’m tired of people pretending there aren’t genuine Christians on every point of this spectrum and debate.

I’m tired of having my spirituality questioned because I can’t be suitably condemning on this. Trust me, it’s not that I don’t believe in questioning my spiritual commitments.  I question them all the time—when I speak in anger to my kids, when I fail to check in with a friend who’s suffering, when I get myopically and exclusively focused on the little doings inside my own house… But I have never questioned my spirituality for being too compassionate. I’m not sure that level exists, but if it does it’s probably like a bonus round they give you if your heavenly welcoming party gets held up. In other words, that’s not the test I’m worried about failing.

Mostly… I’m tired of waiting to hear back from my church.

Faith is a hard thing.

Hope is a hard thing.

Love, I think, is the hardest of all.