July 9, 2014 by Katia
This post is part of a blog tour on the topic of your favourite bloggers’ writing process. I was invited to share mine by Yvonne Spence, accomplished writer and blogger at Inquiring Parent, whose wisdom and kindness transcend continents and computer screens and always find their way straight to my heart.
I start writing this post sitting in my backyard on Canada Day. I soak up the silence. I’m surrounded by shade, peace and the hustle bustle of leaves and I’m in the midst of a mini existential crisis of sorts. There’s a blank space under the job category in my identity checklist and it sometimes makes me feel anchorless. I don’t know what to be when I grow up anymore. Writing and trees are swirling in my mind as some old and new certainties emerge. I revisit the old ones first. I hold on to them to keep myself grounded whenever I get emotionally scattered. I know that I want to be able to see my kids on my own terms and I know that I can always, no matter what, keep writing.
I take in the amazing clutter of trees in the adjoining backyards and I’m as close as I can get to feeling the serenity that looking at trees, spread as far as the eye can see is supposed to bring. I’m catapulted to the two years I’d spent working full time while being a new mom. I remember being surrounded by the same scenery and KNOWING that this is peace yet not being able to feel it. I belonged, in my mind, to my job and remember always, always feeling the pull of work, the grasp that it had on me, the sense that the backyard’s temporary, a fragile figment of an imagined parallel universe and less of a reality than the job. I recall the inner dialogue, the constant autosuggestion “no, THIS is what’s real, THIS is what’s real, THIS is what’s real and everlasting”. I am reliving that when I hear my inner voice: you belong to this. And it’s extremely surprising and reassuring, because it feels like this is coming from someone else, because I would never have phrased it that way. I’d put it more simply: this belongs to you. I’m reminded of something 38 Year Old said when we moved into our house, six years ago. We both marveled at the enormous big tree in the backyard. I expressed my sense of trepidation about owning one, because that fact screamed “adult”, for one thing. My husband corrected me, it’s been here for so long, it’s not our tree, we’re its people. For a while, at least.
I look for certainties in life. I crave stability. Maybe it’s my immigrant blood. I find great satisfaction in news items about archaeological findings, I think it comforts me to think of the past as present. Present as in both still here and still now. I belong to the backyard and trees, my family and writing and that is everlasting.
What am I working on?
In one of my recent posts, I’ve mentioned always wanting to write a book. Since White Teeth and On Beauty were already taken, I gave up on the idea of writing a fictional novel, or anything at all for that matter, since fiction was the only form of writing I was capable of entertaining, before starting the blog. I’ve also discussed, ad nauseam – some might argue, my hang-ups and feelings of inadequacy over writing in a language that wasn’t my native one.
I’m working on overcoming my hang-ups by pitching posts and practicing getting rejected, ignored and embraced so that I could get more comfortable with the idea of writing not just an essay in English but a whole book (just think of how many words I could potentially misspell there…). I’ve come up with some very initial outlines and am trying to organize them into a coherent skeletal structure. I will say that I’m aiming for a humour/mommy-self-compassion type book.
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m not sure it differs at all. Everyone wants to feel original and one of a kind. It obviously feels very personal to me when I write my posts and then reread (and reread and reread) them, but reading some of my favourite bloggers’ posts is often (beware clichés ahead) a humbling experience that puts things in perspective for me. It becomes very clear that kindred spirits who see, feel, experience and even communicate reality on to others in ways similar to me are everywhere.
If there is a difference, then I believe it might manifest itself at the inception point. I think that it’s probably a common thing, but my posts are usually born from a strong emotion: heart-squeeze, empathy, pain, shame, anger, overpowering love. They are evoked by events that I witness and ones that naturally involve my family. Someone else observing the same scene will probably not find it inspiring, or even define it as much of an event, having missed the minuscule muscle twitch on my five-year-old’s face and the story behind it or the fleeting lip quiver on my almost two-year-old’s and the complex emotional web that underlies it, but to me they’re monumental events and ones that often produce posts.
Why do I write/create what I do?
I don’t think I’d be able to summarize it better than I did in the two posts linked below, discussing writing, immigration and child-birth as part of the same fabric.
How does my writing/creating process work?
My blog has several categories but the ones I view as the meta ones are: Sometimes I’m Funny and Sometimes I’m Deep. I started the blog planing to only be funny. When I wrote my first not funny post I was almost apologetic. I even put the word “sentimental” in the title as somewhat of a warning sign. Now I realize that while people love being entertained by funny posts, they also appreciate (perhaps even more so) feeling understood and accepted, as they sometimes do reading the more serious stuff.
When I started writing, I would document the absurdities of life with a baby, toddler and husband. Now my focus has shifted and when I’m being funny, I am driven by recognizing a trend I’ve identified in my family life, which I think has a broad appeal.
It’s different when I’m deep. As I’ve mentioned, it starts with a scene I observe, which grabs my heart and that I feel is just too powerful or beautiful or painful to not share with others. Like my son mumbling his forced “pliz” on the playground, or my younger son contorting his body into strange shapes in an attempt to please his older brother, the crying little girl with the strawberry umbrella or my five-year-old in his snow suit, distraught, trying to stop a fight between my husband and me.
I don’t know WHAT I want to say when I set out to start a post like that. I just try to recreate the scene as accurately as I can. I revive it within me and explore the micro: every little detail in the movement of bodies, facial expressions, voices and the emotional response it evoked in me. I then try to understand why it felt the way it did to me and through that I attempt to identify the broader appeal and potential message, if there is one.
I was requested to tag three favourite writers. I chose three kindred spirits I’ve met here on WordPress. They were all Freshly Pressed because it’s not just me who thinks they’re amazing. All three are sometimes funny, sometimes deep. Here are the links to some of my favourite blog posts by them. They will all be sharing thoughts about their own writing process next week, so make sure to follow them.
Emily at The Waiting: Meet Ed Pate, Salesman
Karen at Mended Musings: The Big Answers
Dawn at WTF (Writing, Thinking, Feeling): Can Someone Tell My Daughter Who God is Please