I filled twelve notebooks and am halfway through thirteen. Filled: I leave several of the perforated end pages blank, tearing them out for the kids to draw on. I write small. It comes out even enough.
I was hoping I’d find some Kuwaiti dinar when I flipped through my notebooks. Instead I found a carrot cake recipe, two temporary tattoos, letter starts, hall passes, a drawing of a saucepan (?), and an illustrated short story by Claire.
When I go through old notebooks, I see the reason why some writers keep their journal separate from their practice and drafting. I tried that once, over a decade ago. Since then, I’ve excused throwing all my writing in one notebook by supposing I’m entwined enough outside of the pages, I may as well play all the parts on lined paper too: prayer and journaling next to fiction next to haphazard poetry. But having all my writing in one place makes seeing me unavoidable. I see the swing of my emotions. Hope and sturdiness of my faith. A prayer of thanks. And a few pages after, paragraphs of insecurity. I interrupt myself with prayers and verses. I turn the page and continue drafting.
I like me, mostly. I want to be Sarah. Looking through my 2014 notebooks I understand that if I quit drafting poetry, fiction and essay to share, I would still journal. The majority of my notebook space is me sorting something out. Some of that sloppy practice informs finished work.
I love that.
Here are excerpts from my 2014 WP. The majority are short ideas I’d circled to go back to, to mine more deeply. Maybe I’ll dig into a few in 2015.
I have this picture of stretching myself out as flat and open as possible, absorbing sun and rest.
I want something beautiful made from my messiness.
I start to live for a lesson. Like I need to name it to pass the level.
Later that month:
I can’t think why I should cover my nakedness. There is no shame in a work being completed.
Later that month:
Naming pain is important. Respect physical pain, learn the intricacy of your form. Acknowledge all pain. Unstop yourself and live in it.
Why is it easier to shove a fear or hurt down than to let pain bloom?
Let pain bloom. Sometimes I walk through a day, cracking. It hurts. I have to keep it together.
I know someone who won’t name her illness because she thinks that gives her illness power.
What I want for my daughter:
Please don’t be angry at yourself
Know you are beautiful
Know God loves you
Please don’t hurt yourself
Let God comfort you
Enjoy your present moment
Sit on the bus
I love you
Even when you’re a mess
I’m a mess too
And God is Redeemer
I gave my heart to a spent fantasy. I think of David seeing Bathsheba. I hurt for him too. To doubt your good gifts. Open my eyes to all I have.
I cannot nap. My body hums. I hear my heart and the cars on the street. My children sleep like stones. Claire buries herself next to me. Grant abandons his body for a dream. My children are beautiful: milk cheeks, curled lashes.
I think there are no secrets here. I leaned out the window yesterday to watch pedestrians. This is better than TV.
From our flat I can hear cars, music from a radio, a piano, British men talking at a café table under our window, another group of men in a flat across the courtyard, elevator ding, my kids giggling in the next room, a kid yelling, a baby crying, laughter on the street, the clack of heels, the approach and fade of conversation, the front door closing heavily, a cheer.
I have enough.
So much of my twenties felt like play-acting. Like following a script. Now we marry, now we have children. God, let me live unscripted now, free of anyone’s expectation.
Enough is a hard measure.
Keep writing, even the same thing again.
Make me a conduit of grace.